GitHub Puts Copilot Workspace Developer Platform in Preview

GitHub has introduced Copilot Workspace, a Copilot-native developer environment for artificial intelligence, in technical preview. Developers are invited to sign up for a waitlist for the service, which allows the use of natural language to plan, build, test and run code. The Microsoft-owned company has introduced various aspects of Copilot over the past few years, adding an autocomplete pair programmer in 2022, and in 2023 Copilot Chat for natural language coding, debugging and testing, “allowing developers to converse with their code in real time.” The “task-centric” Copilot Workspace leverages different agents for a “start-to-finish experience.”

In a blog post that includes a presentation video, GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke emphasized “giving developers full control over every step of the process” with Copilot Workspace, saying it “is expressly designed to deliver — not replace — developer creativity,” making their work “faster and easier.”

“Remember when you were given a blank canvas with powerful tools and asked to create something from scratch — and your mind blanks? GitHub expects Copilot Workspace to remove some of the stress developers experience when coding,” writes VentureBeat.

According to Jonathan Carter, head of the GitHub Next applied research and development team, “it represents a big leap forward in the exploration of what might developer environments look like that are truly AI native instead of adding extensions to existing editors or IDEs.”

Increased productivity and greater job satisfaction are what GitHub says will be likely Copilot Workspace advantages. “The more affordable it is to explore and try different ideas while reducing the implementation time, the more organizations will behave like smaller companies,” VentureBeat says of GitHub’s thinking.

With Copilot Workspace, GitHub is “floating the idea” that AI may be the future of software creation and integrated developer environments (IDEs), reports TechCrunch, adding that “at last count, [GitHub] Copilot had over 1.8 million paying individual and 50,000 enterprise customers, but Carter envisions a far larger base, drawn in by feature expansions with broad appeal, like Workspace.”

With a lot of competition among AI-infused software development tools, GitHub is under pressure to make its version profitable, TechCrunch notes, explaining “Copilot loses an average of $20 a month per user,” with some customers costing the company “as much as $80 per month.”

Last year, Amazon made its CodeWhisperer free to individual developers, and startups including Magic, TabNine, Codegen and Laredo are also edging into the space.

“GitHub wants Copilot, its code completion platform powered by GPT-4, present throughout the lifecycle of development, including the very beginning of a coding project,” notes The Verge, which says the plan is to integrate it “into the larger GitHub Copilot platform after it exits preview.”

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