GitHub Copilot vs. ChatGPT: Which is Better for Coding in 2024?

In an era where the boundaries of technology are constantly expanding, software development has witnessed a paradigm shift with the advent of AI-assisted coding tools.

Two trailblazers in this journey are GitHub Copilot and ChatGPT. These powerful tools are redefining how developers write code, solve problems, and approach project management.

As we stand at the crossroads of traditional coding practices and AI-driven assistance, it becomes crucial for developers to understand the strengths, limitations, and appropriate applications of these technologies.

GitHub Copilot, known for its deep integration within the coding environment, offers a refined experience in code completion and suggestion. It’s like having a silent but knowledgeable partner, always ready to lend a hand in scripting the next line of code.

On the other hand, ChatGPT, with its conversational AI capabilities, breaks free from the shackles of mere code suggestion, venturing into problem-solving, brainstorming, and providing plain-language explanations of complex code.

With a growing number of AI writing tools and AI marketing software, let’s see which tool could become the best AI assistant for developers.

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Key Takeaways

  • GitHub Copilot is a collaborative tool by GitHub and OpenAI that offers real-time code suggestions and completions, leveraging a comprehensive dataset of code written in various programming languages.
  • Copilot’s compatibility with popular IDEs allows for an intuitive coding experience, providing real-time suggestions without disrupting the developer’s workflow.
  • Despite its generally reliable performance, it can sometimes produce code suggestions that contain inaccuracies and require further refinement by the developer.
  • ChatGPT is not confined to code suggestions within an IDE. Instead, it functions as a versatile AI model capable of engaging in natural language conversations, providing a broader range of support to developers.
  • Its code generation, while useful, doesn’t always meet the precision and reliability standards of more specialized coding tools.

Github Copilot vs. Chatgpt for Сoding

In this article, we explore how using GitHub Copilot and ChatGPT can improve traditional coding practices and learn the distinct advantages of Copilot’s code completion and ChatGPT’s broader development guidance.

We gain insights into the practical strengths and weaknesses of each tool for informed decision-making and view the potential future roles and impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) in software development.

GitHub Copilot in Software Development

GitHub Copilot, a collaborative innovation by GitHub and OpenAI, marks a significant advancement in AI-assisted software development.

Is Github Copilot good for coding? This tool, integrated directly within the integrated development environment (IDE), offers real-time code suggestions and completions, leveraging a comprehensive dataset of code spanning various programming languages.

Copilot’s primary aim is to enhance developer productivity and streamline the coding process, making it a cutting-edge example of AI application in software development.

Functioning more than just a code completion tool, GitHub Copilot intelligently adapts to the user’s coding style, evolving over time to provide increasingly personalized suggestions. It is designed to understand and predict the needs of the developer, offering relevant code pieces and assisting in navigating complex code structures.

This capability not only accelerates the development process but also contributes to maintaining high code quality.

While Copilot is a testament to the growing capabilities of AI in coding, it complements rather than replaces human expertise, serving as an invaluable assistant in the diverse and challenging landscape of software development.

Python code for unit testing on Github CoPilot

How Much Does Copilot Cost?

GitHub Copilot is a subscription-based service. It costs $10 per month or $100 per year.

Pros and Cons of GitHub Copilot

The benefits of GitHub Copilot are rooted in its advanced AI capabilities and deep integration with coding environments. These features aim to improve the efficiency and quality of the coding process.

In the meantime, it’s important to acknowledge its limitations, too.

Pros

  • Offers intuitive coding experience with real-time suggestions in popular IDEs, enhancing productivity.
  • Quickly generates code snippets and functions, speeding up development and reducing manual effort.
  • AI learns from developers’ styles for more accurate, tailored code suggestions.
  • Evolves with use, aligning closely with users’ needs for more effective suggestions.

Cons

  • Integration may falter with less common IDEs, affecting usability for some.
  • Focuses on code completion, lacking in problem-solving discussions or detailed explanations.
  • Sometimes suggests code that needs further refinement.
  • Effectiveness hinges on the specificity of developers’ inputs, with vague inputs leading to less helpful suggestions.

Our Verdict

GitHub Copilot is a powerful tool that brings significant efficiencies and personalization to the coding process. However, its effectiveness is shaped by the context in which it is used and the nature of the tasks at hand.

In the next section, we explore ChatGPT vs. GitHub Copilot’s capabilities and how they compare and contrast in software development.

ChatGPT in Software Development

ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, represents a different facet of AI’s integration into software development.

Unlike GitHub Copilot, ChatGPT is not confined to code suggestions within an IDE. Instead, it functions as a versatile AI model capable of engaging in natural language conversations, providing a broader range of support to developers.

This includes brainstorming, explaining complex concepts, and offering guidance on software design and architecture.

Let’s examine the strengths and weaknesses of ChatGPT vs. GitHub Copilot in the context of software development.

ChatGPT helping with a Javascript for filtering data by category

How Much Does ChatGPT Cost?

ChatGPT has a free version. Users can also opt for ChatGPT Plus – an advanced plan that costs $20 per month and gives access to OpenAI’s most advanced large language model, GPT 4.

Pros and Cons of ChatGPT for Software Development

ChatGPT stands out for its versatility and broad application scope in software development. This AI model, adept at processing and responding to natural language, offers unique advantages that extend beyond traditional code suggestions, catering to various facets of software development.

However, despite its wide-ranging utility, ChatGPT faces certain limitations, especially when it comes to the specificity and reliability of coding-related tasks.

Pros

  • Excels in brainstorming and problem-solving, helping structure software projects.
  • Advanced NLP interprets various queries, accessible to different expertise levels.
  • Simplifies complex concepts, aiding developer education across skill levels.
  • Assists in documentation, automation, and more, showcasing developmental versatility.

Cons

  • Generated code may not always align with precision and reliability standards.
  • Often provides broader responses, lacking in specific coding solutions.
  • The quality of suggestions depends on query clarity and specificity.
  • Reliance on NLP can lead to misunderstandings, necessitating careful application in coding projects.

Our Verdict

In ChatGPT, we see a tool that is highly adaptable and useful for a variety of tasks within software development, yet one that requires careful handling, especially when it comes to code generation and interpretation.

GitHub Copilot vs. Chatgpt 4: Key Characteristics for Software Development

Feature GitHub Copilot ChatGPT
Integration Direct integration with IDEs like Visual Studio Code. Accessed as a separate tool, usually via a web interface.
Code Completion Provides real-time code suggestions and completions. Offers code templates and samples, but not in real-time.
Language Support Strong support for many programming languages. General support for multiple languages, but with varying depth.
Context Awareness Highly context-aware, providing suggestions based on current code. General context understanding; relies on user input for specifics.
Learning and Adaptation Learns from the user’s coding style for personalized suggestions. Provides generalized responses, not personalized to the user’s style.
Problem-Solving Assistance Primarily focused on code generation and completion. Capable of offering broader problem-solving guidance and explanations.
Error Detection Limited error detection capabilities. Can provide general advice on error detection and debugging.
Documentation Assistance Can suggest comments and documentation snippets. Capable of generating detailed explanations and documentation.
Usability for Non-Developers More suitable for users with programming experience. Accessible to non-developers for general queries and explanations.
Interactivity Interaction through code within IDE. Conversational interaction, allowing for follow-up questions.
Customization Limited customization options. Flexible in handling a variety of queries and use cases.
Real-time Feedback Provides instant feedback and code suggestions. Feedback depends on query complexity; may not be immediate.
Code Reliability Generally produces reliable, contextually accurate code. Code suggestions may require verification and adaptation.

Coding Assistant Alternatives to GitHub Copilot and ChatGPT

The debate over the best AI tools for software development doesn’t end with comparing Copilot vs. ChatGPT.

While GitHub Copilot and ChatGPT are prominent tools for AI-assisted coding, there are several other noteworthy solutions available to developers.

These alternatives bring their unique features and strengths to the table, catering to various needs in the software development process.

Here’s an overview of some of the viable alternatives:

TabnineAmazon Code WhispererAskCodi

Tabnine is an AI-driven coding assistant that significantly enhances productivity for developers by enabling quick and effective code writing. It supports various programming languages, including Python, Java, JavaScript, PHP, Go, and Rust, making it a versatile choice for developers.

Tabnine not only increases productivity but also improves code quality with its smart completion suggestions and error detection capabilities.

A standout feature of Tabnine is its adaptability to individual coding styles, combining universal AI knowledge with personalized suggestions.

Its deep learning algorithms allow it to provide high-quality suggestions across multiple coding languages, making it fit for a wide range of projects.

A machine learning-powered code generator, Amazon Code Whisperer provides real-time code recommendations within an IDE.

Trained on a comprehensive dataset of open-source code, CodeWhisperer can suggest snippets to full functions based on comments and the existing code. It supports various programming languages and integrates with several IDEs, including JetBrains, Visual Studio Code, and AWS Cloud9.

By automating repetitive tasks and offering suggestions based on current industry standards, CodeWhisperer enhances productivity and promotes the creation of accurate and secure code.

It’s an invaluable asset for developers seeking to optimize efficiency and ensure code precision and security.

AskCodi, powered by OpenAI Codex, is an AI assistant designed for quick and accurate coding.

By integrating with popular IDEs like VS Code, PyCharm, and IntelliJ IDEA, AskCodi simplifies the coding process with features like code generation, programming question answers, and code suggestions. Its capabilities extend to generating SQL queries and creating DocStrings.

The tool’s user-friendly workbook-style interface is particularly beneficial for beginners, providing an interactive learning environment.

With the Codi WorkBook tool, developers can generate code, request AI explanations for specific code snippets, and even automate documentation.

AskCodi is suitable as a learning tool for novices and works as a valuable development aid for more complex projects.

The Future of Coding Assistants and Potential Pitfalls

The trajectory of AI in coding is set to profoundly reshape the software development landscape.

A key statistic from GitHub reveals that nearly 92% of software developers are actively implementing AI coding tools, and 70% believe these tools provide a competitive edge, enhancing code quality and completion time.

This shift towards AI coding assistants indicates a growing recognition of their value in increasing efficiency and improving the overall quality of work.

As these tools evolve, they are expected to become more intuitive and integrated into the development process, offering predictive and proactive assistance that streamlines the development workflow and fosters innovation.

However, this promising future comes with its own set of challenges and potential pitfalls.

The increasing reliance on AI for routine coding tasks raises concerns about the erosion of fundamental coding skills among developers.

The standardization of code generation might also impact the uniqueness and creativity traditionally associated with coding.

Moreover, the security and privacy of AI-generated code are paramount, especially as these tools learn from extensive and diverse datasets, which could include sensitive information.

“It’s essential to raise awareness because many things go poorly when AI is not used appropriately or without awareness of its current limitations and risks,” Francesca Rossi, an IBM Fellow and AI Ethics Global Leader, told Techopedia.

“This open-source tendency or open innovation ecosystem is significant for everybody. Not just those who have enough resources to participate in the AI revolution should be able to bring their talent to advance AI and also advance the responsible uses of AI.

 

Companies have an essential role to play, but also governments, standard bodies, academia, and educators for the next generation that will build AI systems and use them.”

Navigating these challenges will be crucial in the coming years. Developers and organizations will need to strike a balance between leveraging the efficiencies of AI coding assistants and maintaining the core skills and creativity that are essential to software development.

The focus should be on using these tools to complement human expertise, ensuring a future where AI enhances rather than replaces the nuanced and intricate art of coding.

The Bottom Line

Deciding between GitHub Copilot vs. ChatGPT for software development largely depends on the project’s specific needs and the developer’s individual preferences.

GitHub Copilot is the go-to for developers seeking immediate, context-aware coding assistance within an IDE, excelling in projects that demand time efficiency and precise code accuracy. It’s particularly beneficial for those handling complex codebases or repetitive coding tasks.

On the other hand, ChatGPT is ideal for the early stages of development, offering broad, conversational guidance and in-depth explanations, making it a valuable resource for developers who are new to a language or framework or those who require a more exploratory approach to coding.

In essence, both GitHub Copilot and ChatGPT can be strategically utilized for different aspects of software development. While Copilot enhances hands-on coding and productivity, ChatGPT provides foundational support in planning and problem-solving.

FAQs

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Alex McFarland
AI Journalist

Alex is the creator of AI Disruptor, an AI-focused newsletter for entrepreneurs and businesses. Alongside his role at Techopedia, he serves as a lead writer at Unite.AI, collaborating with several successful startups and CEOs in the industry. With a history degree and as an American expat in Brazil, he offers a unique perspective to the AI field.