We discuss the benefits of ChatGPT, OpenAI, and other generative AI tools for developers, including efficiency, planning, and design.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you have no doubt heard of ChatGPT and other generative AI tools. ChatGPT is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot unleashed upon the world by OpenAI in November 2022. The name “ChatGPT” combines “Chat” (referring to its ability to respond to complicated, long-form questions) and “GPT” (which stands for “Generative Pre-trained Transformer”), a type of Large Language Model (LLM).
In the short time that ChatGPT has been around, it has already revolutionized numerous industries, from movie making to database management. While some IT practitioners are fearful that ChatGPT will take away their jobs, if history is any indicator, there is no need to fear; it is much more likely that ChatGPT will forever alter how developers accomplish their work. In fact, ChatGPT has already begun to help with various common development tasks, from analyzing and debugging code to generating code based on problem statements.
This tutorial covers just a few of the ways that ChatGPT can maximize your productivity as a developer, along with how to use ChatGPT to its fullest potential, all while avoiding its pitfalls.
Want to learn more about ChatGPT? Check out our ChatGPT Cheat Sheet.
One of the most exciting ways in which ChatGPT can help developers is in writing code. ChatGPT can act as a personal coding assistant that takes the users’ coding style and natural language into account when producing programming code.
Not limited to basic functionality, ChatGPT can also produce complex code for tasks like constructing classes and modules. This enables beginner developers – or those unfamiliar with a programming language or framework – to get up to speed quickly without spending a lot of hours on the fundamentals.
ChatGPT can even help with code formatting to improve its readability; programmers just need to tell it to format their code based on their organization’s style guidelines. That leaves one less thing that developers do not need to invest a lot of time in.
Let’s face it – no developer likes debugging. Sometimes a bug that took seconds to create can take days to stomp out. Thanks to ChatGPT, such hardship may soon become a thing of the past. ChatGPT can quickly scan through thousands of lines of code for error identification based on a code or error message. It can then suggest particular actions that developers can take to correct the issue.
Moreover, ChatGPT can implement best practices in coding by evaluating source code and recommending enhancements regarding efficiency, security, or readability. Developers can then follow these recommendations to produce code that is more efficient, secure, and maintainable.
Writing test cases
ChatGPT can help developers to write tests in many ways. For example, you can ask ChatGPT to write a test case for invalid input. In that case, ChatGPT might generate invalid inputs such as special characters, empty strings, and out-of-range values.
Thanks to its ability to identify the logic and the structure behind the code, ChatGPT is able to come up with test cases that cover many different code paths and edge cases. For example, it can produce tests specifically for big data sets.
Beyond the tests themselves, ChatGPT is also able to generate test case documentation. As such, it can generate short, easily understandable descriptions of the test cases, including the test inputs, predicted outcomes, and conditions under which the test cases should pass or fail. This can greatly enhance developers’ understanding of the tests, so that they can better address any issues that a failing test might expose.
Thorough and up-to-date documentation is crucial for applications that are developed and maintained by teams. Unfortunately, it is probably the task that gets overlooked the most, leading to documentation that is mostly unhelpful. Today, that no longer needs to hold true. ChatGPT can analyze complex code, contextualize its logic, and develop an appropriate explanation of the code’s functionality. More importantly, the specific language used in such documentation can be adjusted to ensure it is tailored to the skill and comprehension level of the person(s) reading it.
Additionally, ChatGPT can generate documentation in multiple formats, such as Markdown, HTML, or JSDoc, making it easy for developers to integrate with their code editor.
Information gathering and research
Have a programming question such as how to solve a specific problem or about syntax? Just ask ChatGPT. It can comprehend complex programming ideas and deliver relevant information accordingly. Similar to a search engine, or a question-and-answer website like Stack Overflow, ChatGPT can respond with an appropriate response based on its training data. This is comparable to looking through several sources of information all at once.
ChatGPT can even offer relevant code samples and snippets. For instance, a developer can ask ChatGPT for the code to solve a specific problem, and the model would respond with relevant code snippets that match the developer’s request. This can take much less time and effort compared to browsing the Internet for code snippets and/or examples when a developer needs to build a certain feature or solve an issue in short order.
A word of caution
Although ChatGPT does a wonderful job of dealing with complex subjects, it is not infallible. ChatGPT has been known to come up with plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers. Sometimes it gets basic math wrong, is unable to understand simple logic, and will even present facts that are entirely false in its justification. It may also produce code in a different language than you asked it to produce. As such, developers should not take everything it says at face value. Spend some time to double check its output for correctness.
Final thoughts on the benefits of ChatGPT for developers
This tutorial covered just a few of the ways that ChatGPT can maximize your productivity as a developer, along with how to use ChatGPT to its fullest potential while avoiding its pitfalls.
The next phase of ChatGPT will be ChatGPT 4. It will be more intelligent, have more features, and contain a variety of new skills that ChatGPT currently lacks. Whereas the current ChatGPT can access 175 billion parameters to comprehend questions and respond accordingly, version 4’s parameters will exceed 100 trillion! It follows that its capacity for learning and possible applications will take a quantum leap forward.
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