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AI-powered development 101
Let's keep it simple at first
I hope you’re curious as me about integrating AIs into your daily job as a developer. But if you’re just getting started, you’re probably overwhelmed by the current pace at which the field is evolving. So here is a quick catch-up to get you started.
Disclaimer: an AI was only put to work for the header image, glossary definitions, and examples (screenshots)
LLM: A Large Language Model (LLM) is an AI model trained on massive amounts of text data. LLMs can understand and generate human-like text, allowing them to perform various natural language processing tasks, such as translation, summarization, and question-answering
As you might have understood, I’ll focus on chat LLMs in this post. So here are my favorite ones by order of preference:
Price: 20$ (+tax) / month for ChatGPT+
Why: Allows most personalization of the chat’s “personality”. Has been providing me with the best results and can help with multi-step projects if used well
Price: Free, requires Microsoft Account + Edge
Why: well worth the price of $0. It seems to be a mix of GPT3.5 and GPT4. A good place to start if you don’t want to pay.
Why not: Bing search is integrated but actually gets in the way when using it for software development. UI is not great with code blocks.
Price: Free, Boosted with ChatGPT+
Why: Really fast to answer. Ok for a single question or working on a really small subset of code.
Why not: Response quality is way lower than GPT4’s and Bing’s. Not great with following multiple steps.
Bonus, Repplit Ghostwritter:
Price: 20$/month (with other advantages)
Why: It’s integrated into Repplit, a fully online code editor with hosting capacities. It’s now my favorite tool for tinkering with code.
Why not: Responses are good but not up to GPT4’s level.
What you should not do
Try to search with it: All of them are trained with data as recent as September 2021. Also, note that apart from Bing Chat, none are connected to the internet by default. And be wary that Bing’s answer may not match the provided reference’s content.
Expect up-to-date library/framework standards: Again, due to the knowledge cutoff, they don’t know about recent releases and breaking changes of your favorite framework.
Try to get it to write the complete projects: I think we’ll get there fast, but right now, the main limitation is the chat’s memory. I already wrote more about this on Twitter.
What you should try
Here are the basic things I now use ChatGPT-4 exclusively for:
Catch up & learn
I’ve started using Python to integrate LLMs into my own projects. I chose Python because it’s the most commonly used language for AI-related projects and has the most cutting-edge libraries.
But I don’t know Python. I’ve only dabbled with it. So I’ve been using GPT4 to teach me the basics:
“How do you set up a python project?”
“How do you do X in python”
And even better if you know another language, “Translate this JS code on Python” with some JS code right under
Tip of my tongue prompts
When explaining some concepts or trying to find resources on a language/library, I often can’t remember the correct term to define a particular element.
So I pop up ChatGPT and ask for the name with a rough description or example
While ChatGPT-4 can’t write a full project easily for you yet. It is very helpful in planning things out. Right now, I’m working on prompting my own data. But I don’t know where to begin. Well, let’s ask:
And I make sure to ask for sub-steps:
If the step is small enough, I ask it to do it for me:
A nice addition is that it also recommends useful libraries to achieve your goals. But be sure to do your due diligence and watch out for deprecated recommendations.
If the code doesn’t work, copy-paste the error into the text box, and ChatGPT will fix it.
I also use it in a code review format. It works with complex code but won’t process the whole response if the code is too long.
Limitations to watch out for:
I’ve already talked about this, but it’s always nice to set a reminder. So here are the main limitations once again:
The Chat will start to forget after some time
The libraries and standards used in the code may not always be up to date
If the response is too big, it will stop halfway through
Do not use it for search
Ok, we’re done with the first post. Hope you found it useful. If so, please help me by recommending and sharing my Newsletter.
🙋 Also, while I have your attention, I’d love to know what you’re most interested in 👇
And if you’re looking for something else, you’re always welcome to leave a comment: