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ChatGPT and Developers: Friend or Foe?
The rise of advanced technologies, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) emergence as a prime example, has revolutionized the digital world and streamlined almost all activities. The arrival of ChatGPT is yet another excellent proof demonstrating the AI’s ability to complete tasks with minimum human effort.
Currently, ChatGPT is gaining lots of traction owing to its excellent response algorithm, allowing those without technical backgrounds to use it effectively. As an advanced chatbot powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) technology, it’s able to hold natural conversations with people by understanding and responding to their text inputs.
On the other hand, ChatGPT has also sparked numerous concerns. Some experts believe that the tool may displace jobs held by humans due to its capability of providing meaningful responses to various types of inquiries. Moreover, as ChatGPT can help people write code in different programming languages quickly, it’s expected to replace developers in the near future. By concentrating on the impact of ChatGPT on software development, this article will help you figure out whether this tool is a friend or a foe.
ChatGPT in Software Development
Back in November 2022, ChatGPT was first time released to the market and was regarded as a powerful content generation tool. However, ChatGPT soon revealed its extraordinary potential for writing software code as well as creating headlines in the software development industry. Considering the tool's capabilities, it provides developers with many benefits, such as writing complete programming code based on your requirements and allowing you to sit back and provide instructions.
This technology has the potential to cut down development time due to its ability to generate code quickly. ChatGPT can also help reduce the risk of errors, as the tool is capable of generating code that can be tested and used immediately. This certainly represents a next-level evolution, showing how the development process can also be automated. However, there are some concerns raising whether ChatGPT will become a threat to software developers. Rather than looking at the tool as an existential threat, let’s discuss the upsides and downsides of ChatGPT to developers.
How ChatGPT Benefits Developers?
There are various ways you can use ChatGPT to automate your specific technical tasks. Here are some use cases in which the tool can enhance developer productivity.
1. Generate code in different languages
Here’s an example of how we can request ChatGPT to generate Java code to call the API from Postman curl that is used in banking deposits. Let’s ask!
Prompt: Please generate Java code to call this API from the curl I provided.
By leveraging this ability of ChatGPT, developers can get ideas for coding a particular function in the programming language they prefer. The more details of the app feature you want to build, the more accurate suggestions that this tool can bring to you. You can ask ChatGPT to generate a sample code for a payment function in a mobile banking app as below:
Prompt: Write in React Native code for a payment function in a banking app that will show the error notification when users enter invalid input
It’s quite different from the previous case since you input your curl and require the tool to generate code based on it. In this case, ChatGPT writes code based on your demonstrations, so it can be correct in general but not for each specific scenario.
As you may see from the two examples, ChatGPT provides not only the right code but also suggestions for improvements, such as streaming down the code lines or boosting efficiency. Moreover, the tool can help build automation test cases for different scenarios, leverage CI/CD, test different kinds of apps, etc.
2. Translate and explain codes
ChatGPT can also help translate code from one language into another. This is especially useful when a developer is more comfortable with one language but needs to code in another language. It is highly recommended to use markdown syntax when providing code. Here's how ChatGPT work:
Prompt: Translate these lines of code into NodeJS
Besides the capability of code translation, ChatGPT can explain codes in natural language (English or any kind of language for that matter). This is particularly useful for the developer who begins to learn a new programming language or would like to understand a random line of code.
Prompt: Explain these codes in English
3. Track down bugs and implement good coding practices
For developers who wish to identify bugs and adopt best practices in development, ChatGPT can be a beneficial tool. For example, the tool can analyze a piece of code and recommend specific steps that developers might take to identify and fix errors. As a result, software engineers may save a significant amount of time and effort by no longer having to spend hours identifying the bug’s root cause.
ChatGPT can help find issues by suggesting code restructuring and coding techniques to make it more readable, maintainable, and bug-free. With the aid of these recommendations, you can produce code that is more efficient and secure, leading to fewer defects and a shorter development cycle.
4. Gather information
Similar to a search engine, ChatGPT is helpful in seeking knowledge. Software engineers can use the tool to ask technical questions regarding code ideas, required test cases for a single app function, etc. Below is the response from ChatGPT for the request to provide some libraries for handling the drag & drop feature:
Prompt: List down the common libraries for a React app to handle drag & drop features. Give me the pros and cons of comparing those libraries.
Limitations of ChatGPT
After analyzing more carefully at ChatGPT’s capabilities, some developers are quite sceptical of whether it is a threat to their future or not. However, it is still a computer bot created by humans and has a few limitations in its system. Here are some downsides of the tool that you may consider when using it:
- Possibility of incorrect answers if inputs are not detailed enough: ChatGPT is a large-scale language model that is continually improved to give an accurate response. However, as mentioned above, because it lacks the context of what developers are building, the tool cannot understand the project’s expectations around coding and design guidelines, security, performance, accessibility, and so on. So, you will need to spend a significant amount of time training the tool, but unsure if it responds with the correct answer.
- Training data limitations and bias issues: Similar to other AI models, ChatGPT has limitations in its training data. In fact, many users figure out this tool demonstrates a bias when it comes to training minority data groups, which may negatively impact the model output.
- Non-trending: All the data that ChatGPT provides are before 2021, which is not up-to-date. However, in this fast-paced digital world, the code and techniques are updated constantly, and developers are working every day to leverage their codes for readability and efficiency. While ChatGPT is just a tool that assists us in reducing time-consuming tasks and suggesting ideas; for high-level tasks, we still need the brains and expertise to design the whole system. This is one of the core reasons why human developers still have the edge over ChatGPT.
Is ChatGPT a Friend or Foe?
Back to our previous question, is this tool a robust assistant that can help us in coding, or is it a risk that may replace software development jobs in the near future?
ChatGPT is undoubtedly a revolutionary AI tool that will bring lots of advantages to IT engineers, from speedy code generation, and code translation to bug track down. But software development is not just about those simple tasks; it's about planning, thinking, teamwork, expertise, and many more. ChatGPT is a fantastic achievement, but it is not equal to the human brain. Software developers will remain critical to the software development process for the foreseeable future, and AI advances will help them perform tasks better.