GitHub Copilot: Everything You Need to Know

Madison Zoey Vettorino
Madison Zoey Vettorino

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GitHub is a fan-favorite amongst developers for plenty of reasons. And now, thanks to the widespread release of GitHub Copilot, devs have yet another reason to love the platform. 

Person using GitHub Copilot to write code more efficiently

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In this post, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about GitHub Copilot, including how much it costs, how to use it, and some tips & tricks to make the most of the product.

What is GitHub Copilot?

GitHub Copilot harnesses the power of Codex, a generative pre-trained language model credited to OpenAI. You can use this AI pair programmer to write code quickly and efficiently. Because you're saving time and effort, your team can reallocate those resources elsewhere. 

GitHub Copilot uses context from comments and code and immediately suggests individual lines and whole functions. The product was also trained on natural language text and source code from several publicly available sources, including GitHub's public repositories. 

GitHub CoPilot: This code module shows what the product looks like in action. You can see there's a popup on the bottom that suggests changes. Image Source

It's worth noting that GitHub Copilot does not write flawless code, as it can only generate code according to context. It also doesn't test the suggested code, so be sure you do that yourself. However, it's a great place to begin if you want to make the process easier.

The best way to think of GitHub Copilot is as an apprentice to help you write code. Will it get it right all the time? No. Will it help you eliminate some time and energy by creating a foundation for you to build upon? Yes.

How much does GitHub Copilot cost?

If you're considering using GitHub Copilot, you likely have questions regarding how much it costs and if there's room for it in your business' budget. The good news is that you have a few options when it comes to pricing.

First, you can try GitHub Copilot for 60 days free of charge. Once your trial ends, you can decide whether you want to proceed with the product. If so, you'll pay $100 yearly or $10 per month per user.

There are some cases where you can use the product for free. GitHub CoPilot is free for verified students, teachers, and individuals who maintain some popular open-source products.

GitHub Copilot for companies is expected to debut later this year but has yet to be available. You can join the waitlist if you'd like to learn more when it launches. 

How do you use GitHub Copilot?

You already know that GitHub Copilot uses artificial intelligence (AI) to write code. Let's dive deeper into how and where you can use this product to make it work for you. 

The product is available for use as an extension for Visual Studio Code, Visual Studio, Neovim, and Integrated Development Environments (JetBrains suite). If you're looking to use GitHub Copilot in Visual Code Studio, you'll need to have — you guessed it — Visual Code Studio installed.

Because Codex was trained on natural language and publicly available source code, it's suitable for programming and human languages. The GitHub Copilot extension sends your comments and code to the Copilot service, which relies on context to produce suggestions. 

The product may also collect URL repositories or file paths necessary to evaluate context. Then, your comments and code are paired with context. OpenAI's Codex uses this to offer individual lines and whole functions. 

Tips & Tricks for GitHub Copilot

Are you considering investing in GitHub Copilot? These tips and tricks will help you make the most out of the product. Here are some of our best suggestions to help you get started.

Be mindful of which language and framework you're using.

While the product offers suggestions for several languages and a variety of frameworks, it does have its favorites. We suggest you use GitHub Copilot with JavaScript, TypeScript, Python, Ruby, Go, C#, and C++, as it works the most efficiently for these.

Remember, this product uses the context you provide.

Remember that GitHub Copilot uses artificial intelligence to make suggestions. Therefore, the more context you offer, the more accurate and usable those suggestions will be. For the best results, you should use meaningful names for your function parameters, write solid docstrings and comments, and divide code into smaller, more digestible functions.

Test and vet your code.

We can't emphasize this enough: You should always test your code. Whether you're writing it or artificial intelligence is, there's never a wrong time to test your code. By doing so, you'll be able to quickly catch any code that isn't functioning correctly or doesn't make sense.

GitHub Copilot: Orange background with white font that reads: Be mindful of which language and framework you're using. Remember, this product uses the context you provide. Act accordingly. Test and vet your code.

Start using GitHub Copilot today.

With the help of this product, you can make the entire coding process smoother and more seamless. By downloading GitHub Copilot today, you're one step closer to quickly-written code that can significantly impact your project timelines.

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