• Github Copilot Chat is the centerpiece feature of Github Copilot X, an advanced version of the popular Copilot coding assistant launched in mid-2021.
  • The beta release of Copilot Chat marks the initial step in introducing GitHub Copilot X to enterprises, with a vision to evolve the original Copilot into a context-aware conversational assist.

According to Microsoft Corp.’s GitHub, the enhanced Copilot tool’s primary feature will soon be made available to developers in limited beta test mode.

Described as the “centerpiece feature” of Github Copilot X, Github Copilot Chat is an improved version of the well-known Copilot coding assistant that debuted in mid-2021. When the company unveiled Copilot X in March, it stated that it would be integrated into the user interface of Microsoft’s VS Code and Visual Studio code editing programs.

Copilot Chat’s beta release is the first step in bringing GitHub Copilot X to businesses to transform the original Copilot into a “context-aware” conversational assistant. It resides directly within the integrated development environment where programmers write their code.

Technology for generative artificial intelligence underlies Copilot Chat. It will enable programmers to complete some of the most challenging coding tasks using straightforward prompts, accelerating the creation of new applications and debugging existing code.

According to GitHub, Copilot Chat has the unique ability to recognize both the code that a developer has typed and any displayed error messages. Every developer receives individualized support from it, with real-time assistance suggesting best practices, advice, and solutions to each unique coding challenge the developer faces.

In addition to offering guidance on the following lines or snippets of code, it can automate code fixes by making remediation suggestions, assisting in lowering the number of vulnerabilities discovered during security scans. Additionally, it can examine entire code sections to clarify in simple language what that section is supposed to accomplish. In addition, it can aid in troubleshooting by pointing out potential issues with the developer’s code.

Copilot Chat is all about increasing developer velocity, according to Mario Rodriguez, Vice President of Product at GitHub, in a blog post. According to him, developers now spend more time on non-coding activities such as reading documentation to learn how to use a new database, connect to an application programming interface, or comprehend what a coworker was trying to do.

Rodriguez cites the most recent developer survey by Stack Overflow, which revealed that 63% of developers spend between 30 minutes and two hours daily looking for solutions. Naturally, this means they’re spending less time on more productive activities, like writing new code and coming up with creative solutions to issues.

Rodriguez explained, “We want to help developers spend their time on what matters most: building what’s next. This work started with GitHub Copilot offering code suggestions right in the IDE – but now with Copilot Chat, developers can not only get code suggestions but ask questions, get explanations, offer prompts for code, and more. That means they’re spending more time in the IDE and in the flow.”

According to Constellation Research Inc. Analyst Holger Mueller, the fact that there aren’t enough developers worldwide makes increasing developer productivity a top priority for businesses. Mueller enthused, “Most governments believe increasing developer velocity is critical for economic growth, and there’s a lot of hope for generative AI, which has already delivered the biggest productivity gains since the introduction of the PC itself. GitHub is fast becoming a leader here, integrating the latest advances in generative AI inside the IDE to help developers write superior code and debug it faster.”

Administrators can now access the limited beta of Copilot Chat by going to the Copilot settings, selecting the “Policies” tab, and adjusting the settings from there.

According to Rodriguez, GitHub thinks Copilot Chat will eventually usher in a new era of code development in which natural language powers the entire experience for developers, increasing their happiness and productivity.