How experienced programmers are using ChatGPT
Despite the hype, ChatGPT isn’t good enough to take our jobs (just yet), so how are programmers using ChatGPT day-to-day to improve their code and careers?
Debugging sections and snippets of code
Generally, ChatGPT can do a pretty good job of highlighting any issues with snippets of code you show it and gives suggestions on what may be causing an issue. For example, it can highlight a potential syntax issue such as any missing closing brackets similar to using a lint/linter extension on an IDE but it can go one further in solving more advanced issues that may be caused in your code and give suggestions on how to fix and improve these.
Despite their incredible confidence, senior programmers don’t actually know everything. There might be a situation where they are asked to integrate an API or e-commerce payment gateway, or anything that they have never done before and sometimes the official documentation for it isn’t very good. ChatGPT might be a quicker way to get the information they need by having a two-way conversation in getting the information they need rather than spending hours trawling through Google and StackOverflow.
Converting code from one programming language to another
There might be a situation where there is a fully working function or snippet of code that the programmer regularly uses that is needed for another project that is written in a different programming language or framework. ChatGPT can do a pretty good job at cross-converting code if the programming languages are similar and can do the same task.
Inspiration and research
ChatGPT is great at suggesting how to progress in certain areas, not only in a programming sense. For example, you might have a basic idea of an app you want to build but you are not really sure where to start or you might need clarity on the type of app that people might want to use. ChatGPT is a great tool for expanding on a topic or idea where a lot of feedback and information can be given to really get a better understanding of the task at hand.
The heavy lifting on simple but repetitive tasks that would typically take time
Sometimes programmers will be tasked with updating certain areas of their application that are repetitive and time-consuming but are relatively simple. ChatGPT can take on this heavy lifting which will then free up the programmer to use their time more efficiently.
Refactoring and improving code
There might be an old piece of code that is still used regularly that the programmer knows is a little messy or something new that isn’t the finished piece and needs improving. ChatGPT can offer suggestions for not only streamlining the code to remove potential duplications for example but also improving its efficiency or even giving further instructions on how to add additional functionality. For example, if you have two pieces of code that are very similar it might suggest how to put them into a function so that they don’t need to be repeated each time.
Playing around and seeing the potential of AI
The sudden leap of AI has been overwhelming, especially with the hype that it comes with. For many, this is still an experimental phase, and playing around with the chatbot and other AIs can help get an understanding of its advantages and limitations and how best to use this in the future.
About the Author
Stephen is a web developer who has been building websites and applications for over a decade. He continues to build projects and solutions for clients and enjoys teaching others in his field.