Research: How GitHub Copilot improves developer productivity


Share post:

Transform 2022 will be back in person July 19, and virtual July 20 – 28, we are thrilled to announce. Get connected with data and AI leaders to hear insightful talks and network. Register Today!

Software developers know that an estimated 90% of all computer code has already been written for some application somewhere in the world, so it’s counterproductive to have to manually enter it into a job all over again. Aside from that, artificial intelligenceThe AI tools that we have now in 2022 know exactly where the code is and can retrieve almost anything in just a few microseconds.

Startups are an example of a company TabnineShop for open-source tools GitHub are plugging directly into this trend of development tools that stay one or more steps ahead of code that’s being written. They read the beginning of the code line and then make intelligent assumptions – then offer suggestions – in real time on how to complete it. 

GitHub’s Copilot goes GA 

A year ago, GitHub launched a technical preview. CopilotA new pair of AI programmers that plugs into any source editor, and provides coding suggestions. There are only a handful of test seats. However, the majority of those who used it have continued to use it. GitHub CopilotGitHub told them that the tool was an essential part of their daily workflows. 

Why not? When someone starts typing, the application recognizes it immediately and gives suggestions on how to complete it; it even closes brackets correctly each time.

As of June 21, GitHub Copilot became Generally availableTo all developers 

“The feedback we have heard and continue to hear substantiates our core thesis: AI can help make developers more productive and happier while coding,” GitHub principal researcher Eddie Aftandilian said in a media advisory. “Even still, we wanted to test our theory and see if GitHub Copilot itself actually leads to higher productivity rates among developers.” 

Productivity survey: Do Copilot’s suggestions help?

To find this out, GitHub’s research and engineering teams partnered to combine qualitative survey data from more than 2,000 U.S.-based developers with anonymized data to determine if developers believe GitHub Copilot is making them more productive — and if the data proves they actually are, in fact, more productive when using GitHub Copilot.

Aftandilian stated that GitHub Copilot was created to make developers happier and more productive. It keeps them focused on the most important thing: creating great software. 

But “productivity” is a word that contains a wide range of possible practical meanings. Developers should consider whether they want to save keystrokes or if they want to avoid Google and StackOverflow searches. GitHub Copilot can help developers stay in the flow and provide them with highly precise solutions for manual, calculator-like tasks. Or should it inspire them with speculative stubs that might help unblock them when they’re stuck?

All of the above is true. But GitHub’s research offered more specific answers. The research focused on three questions:

  • Are people more productive because of GitHub Copilot?
  • Does that feeling show up in objective usage measurements?
  • Which usage measure best reflects that feeling

“We found developers didn’t care that much if they needed to rework the suggestion, as long as GitHub Copilot gave them a suitable starting point,” Aftandilian said. “And this makes sense: GitHub Copilot isn’t designed to build software by itself — it’s designed to offer helpful suggestions that make it easier to stay in the flow. Copilot offers developers the parts but leaves it up to them to assemble and design the finished product.”

You can have multiple options with one keystroke

Is Copilot flexible?

“Copilot can return suggestions with as little as one keystroke,” Aftandilian told VentureBeat. “However, the quality of suggestions tends to improve with the amount of context available via both code and comments. Copilot frequently offers multiple suggestions via a ‘cycling’ menu, as well as the ‘Open Copilot’ side panel that displays 10 suggestions.” 

GitHub developers tell Aftandilian that they love Copilot because it allows them to stay in the flow for longer periods of time and concentrate on the architecture of their applications rather than the syntax and methods.

“We’ve heard feedback from developers that even when Copilot isn’t exactly right, users appreciate its suggestions as a helpful starting point,” he said. “For example, Copilot will often suggest the right control structure (e.g., the structure of a loop) even if it doesn’t get the details perfectly right. The user can keep the structure but edit the details, and they find that helpful.”

You can find the You can find the final research hereIn a published academic paper, which GitHub teams presented last Month at PLDI’s MAPS ‘22 conference in San Diego.

VentureBeat’s missionit is to become a digital city square for technical decision makers to gain knowledge and transact. Learn more about joining.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Related articles

The Benefits of a Creative Subscription with Envato Elements

If you’re looking to find and use royalty-free images and other creative resources, it can be tough to...

Get an Additional ₹100 Cashback When You Pay with Domino’s Digital Wallet Partners

How does ₹100 cashback sound? Find out more about the additional cashback you can get when you pay...

Get Unlimited Access to DataCamp’s Library of Online Courses

DataCamp subscriptions enable access to over 300 courses, as well as projects, assessments, and additional content. Whether you're...

Why You Should Buy from DaMENSCH: The Best in Quality, Service, and Value

Buying products online can be dangerous; you never know if you’re getting an authentic product, or one that’s...