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Exploring the Nine Best AI Code Generation Tools and Their Impact on Development

Exploring the Nine Best AI Code Generation Tools and Their Impact on Development
Exploring the Nine Best AI Code Generation Tools.

Humans have always sought ways to make their work easier. Software developers, in particular, have been instrumental in automating tasks across various industries. However, developers themselves haven't experienced the same level of job automation and facilitation. That is, until AI code generation tools became widely available.

These tools significantly enhance the efficiency and speed of the development process by allowing coders to generate, complete, or review code using simple, natural language text requests. AI code tools are immensely useful, whether you're a beginner or an expert.

The widespread use of AI code generators has also led to the creation of vast amounts of code and a growing need for developer productivity tools, leading to the evolution of AI in software development. Ideally, you should be able to save the generated code, modify it as needed, reuse code snippets, and seamlessly integrate the generated code into your preferred integrated development environment (IDE). Great code management tools are essential but not that easy to find.

On the other hand, there are a wide variety of AI-based code generation tools available. While most of them work similarly, there are many aspects where they differ. This article explores nine of the most popular AI code generation tools right now, focusing on the accuracy and verbosity of the generated code, the ease of use of the tools, the available modes of use, pricing, the speed at which they output a response, and any additional features they offer. By the end of the article, you'll have a good understanding of the different options and which one is best for you.

Pieces for Developers

When discussing the best AI code generators, Pieces for Developers is a hugely underrated option. Its capabilities in code generation, as well as code management overall, are among the best on the market. Let's begin exploring Pieces and its AI code generation abilities.

To use Pieces for Developers for code generation, you need to first install the Desktop App, which is a visual GUI. Note that you can also use Pieces with the JetBrains IDE, Visual Studio Code, or JupyterLab, as well as install Pieces extensions for Google Chrome, Edge, Microsoft Teams, and so on. However, the Pieces for Developers Desktop App is the most robust option to start with, allowing you to navigate through your snippets visually, transform them between languages, and generate code with a personal copilot.

Fortunately, installing the Pieces for Developers Desktop App is extremely straightforward and completely free. You just need to navigate to the installation page in the documentation and download the Pieces Suite installer. Follow the provided installation steps, which should only take a few minutes. After the installation is complete, you'll need just a minute to set it up by answering a few questions, such as specifying your most frequently used programming languages. There won't be any saved snippets in the newly installed app, which will look something like this:

Pieces for Developers Desktop App.

To start generating code, click the + Add Snippets button. You'll be presented with various ways to add a snippet, as shown in the picture below. Since you want to generate a piece of code, click Describe a Snippet to Generate. Alternatively, you can open the same window by pressing Ctrl+Shift+P.

How to generate code in Pieces.

Now, using plain and natural language, simply describe what you're trying to accomplish. Following the example in the Pieces documentation, go ahead and input the following prompt: Create a function that splits a string based on spaces and print each item. Don't forget to choose the language you want your output to be in, which is set right before the prompt:

Generating code in Pieces.

This prompt will give the following output:

def split_string(string):  items = string.split()  for item in items:     print(item)

View this snippet in Pieces

This output only takes a few seconds to generate because Pieces uses local machine learning models, making your data completely private and secure. Apart from being fast and completely free, the output of Pieces is also very accurate, as you can see from this simple example. However, the real power of the app doesn't come solely from using generative AI to write code. Instead, what sets Pieces for Developers apart from other AI-based code generators on this list is its code management suite.

For example, you can store useful code snippets by simply clicking Save to Pieces:

How to save a generated code snippet in Pieces.

You'll now be able to see the snippet in the app. Not only is this snippet saved, but Pieces for Developers auto-enriches it with a smart description, tags, and related links:

A saved snippet in Pieces.

In addition, you can easily share the saved snippet. From the options on the right, simply click Generate Shareable Link:

How to share a code snippet in Pieces.

You'll need to connect to either a Google, GitHub, or Microsoft account. Once you connect an account, a link will be generated to the saved snippet.

Pieces also regularly adds new features. The recently released Pieces Copilot allows you to chat with a "copilot" powered by Pieces’ machine learning models. You can chat about your code, ask technical questions, check if there are errors, add inline comments, generate code based on your saved snippets, and much more.

Getting started with Pieces Copilot is very straightforward: you only have to click the dropdown menu and then Copilot & Global Search. Or, you can launch the copilot directly from a saved snippet, to add context to your conversation without additional prompt engineering.

Getting started with Pieces Copilot.

You can simply paste the code to check for errors. You don’t even have to write any prompt. Pieces Copilot will automatically identify the errors and provide explanations. For instance, if you try to create a dictionary without commas between the items, Pieces Copilot will detect this mistake, correct it, and offer insights into the error. All of these actions take mere seconds.

Using Pieces Copilot to find errors in code.

You can also provide the tool with a simple code snippet and request an explanation of what the code does. The copilot will respond with a comprehensive explanation of the code's functionality.

Asking Pieces Copilot questions about the code.

As Pieces Copilot is a brand-new tool, its function and use cases will expand regularly. For example, an update next week will allow you to ask whom within your organization you should talk to about a specific coding question or snippet, which can significantly improve collaboration.

Related people with Pieces Copilot.

Verdict

Pieces for Developers is one of the most underrated AI code generation tools out there. It's straightforward to use, accurate, fast, and free, and can be used as a desktop app, as an extension in popular browsers, or integrated with an IDE. However, the most significant advantage Pieces has over other tools on the list is how easy it makes saving, enriching, sharing, finding and reusing snippets.

GitHub Copilot

GitHub Copilot landing page.

GitHub Copilot is among the first and most popular AI tools that can generate code. Driven by the OpenAI Codex language model, Copilot is based on open source code from GitHub and trained on billions of lines of code. It also has the ability to suggest and complete lines of code, including entire functions. It assists in error identification, security threat detection, and debugging and can generate helpful comments. If you are not satisfied with the suggestions provided, you can conveniently toggle between different suggestions until you find one that suits your needs.

Copilot is also able to quickly generate code from a simple text prompt. All you need to do is write a comment explaining what you want to accomplish, and Copilot will output a piece of code that does exactly what you described. Just make sure to make the instructions as clear as possible so that Copilot's code is more accurate. Keep in mind that AI generated code with GitHub is only as good as the prompts you give it (and not based on pre-trained context of your repository like with Pieces), so be as specific as you can. Don't give the tool any doubt about what you want it to accomplish. If your instructions are vague, it's quite possible that Copilot will output something different from what you had in mind. Take a look at this Python snippet provided by GitHub Copilot for an example of a good prompt:

import datetime

def parse_expenses(expenses_string):
 """Parse the list of expenses and return the list of triples (date, value, curre
 ncy).
 Ignore lines starting with #.
 Parse the date using datetime.
 Example expenses_string:
   2016-01-02 -34.01 USD
   2016-01-03 2.59 DKK
   2016-01-03 -2.72 EUR
 """

Here's the corresponding output:

expenses = []
for line in expenses_string.splitlines():
 if line.startswith("#"):
   continue
 date, value, currency = line.split(" ")
 expenses.append((datetime.datetime.strptime(date, "%Y-%m-%d"),
          float(value),
          currency))
return expenses

As you can see, all you need to do is describe clearly what you're trying to accomplish. In this example, Copilot generates a function that does exactly what the comment specifies. If you don't like the function that Copilot suggests, you can scroll back and forth between different suggestions until you find one that you like.

Copilot is very accurate and provides real-time feedback and suggestions. As you write, Copilot understands the context of your code and which frameworks you're using to provide you with relevant recommendations. All of these will make you significantly more productive and efficient. In addition, Copilot can work with popular IDEs and offers extensions for tools such as JetBrains and Visual Studio Code. It also supports many different programming languages.

On the other hand, Copilot is one of the few AI code generation tools that doesn't have a free version (with certain exceptions, such as for students and teachers). Its price ranges from $10 per month for individuals to $19 per month for businesses.

Even more importantly, it lacks some very useful code management features that a tool like Pieces has, such as the possibility to save, enrich, search, share, or reuse code snippets.

Verdict

Copilot is accurate, easy to use, and very fast. It's also easy to integrate with popular IDEs. But there's no free version of it, so you'll need to pay if you want to use it. Also, it doesn't provide features such as saving and reusing code snippets.

ChatGPT

ChatGPT landing page.

When it first came out, ChatGPT shook the world with its instant popularity. Even those without any coding or technical expertise were very enthusiastic about it. Thanks to open source training data and natural language processing, ChatGPT is able to complete a huge range of different tasks. Using AI to generate code is one of its many abilities.

However, it also excels at explaining complex programming concepts and helping with code debugging. That said, ChatGPT has many capabilities outside of coding. Among its countless use cases, you can use it to get information about any topic, translate text between languages, reply to emails for you, and even just have a conversation with it.

ChatGPT is extremely easy to use. All you need to do is give it instructions in plain, natural language, and it will be able to understand your request and respond to it. As with most code generative AI tools, the answers may not always be perfectly accurate, but their accuracy is satisfactory. To illustrate its capabilities, the following is its response to a request for the same function from GitHub Copilot's landing page:

ChatGPT response.

Similar to GitHub Copilot, you don't have to simply accept ChatGPT's code if you're not satisfied with it. Instead, you can iteratively improve on the generated code. Once the code is generated, you can ask ChatGPT to modify it, giving it instructions regarding the direction in which you want it to change the code. Tell it why you don't like the code and what it can do to improve it. You can do this multiple times until ChatGPT finally produces code that completely meets your expectations.

ChatGPT is completely free to use, but for $20 a month, you can upgrade to ChatGPT Plus. This will make ChatGPT available at all times, as the free version may not be available during peak demand hours. It will also give you priority access to new features, enable even faster response times (although even the free version's speed is satisfactory), and provide access to GPT-4, a more advanced model.

One of the cons of ChatGPT is that unlike many of the tools listed here, it's not built specifically for AI code generation. This means that although it will generate code, its accuracy may not be on par with the other tools on the list, and it may often be more verbose than needed. Also, ChatGPT can't be integrated with your favorite IDE, so you'll have to copy and paste its output.

Verdict

ChatGPT is one of the most useful AI tools to have in your arsenal. It's universal, and you can really use ChatGPT for anything, including AI code generation. Its ease of use and its free features mean that you can set it up and generate code in literally a few minutes. Like with all AI tools, you'll need to check the code accuracy yourself, although the code is much more accurate with ChatGPT Plus.

Replit Ghostwriter

Replit Ghostwriter landing page.

Replit Ghostwriter is a browser-based AI tool that helps you generate and debug code. You don't have to download anything, and you can use it from anywhere. It comes with a chat interface where you can give prompts to the Ghostwriter AI. In a way, it's as if you had ChatGPT right in your editor.

The Ghostwriter AI will give you suggestions for auto-completing your code as you write. It will also automatically check your code for bugs, detect mistakes, and even recommend ways to correct the code. As you're typing, Ghostwriter can comprehend the context of your code, enabling it to provide relevant suggestions accordingly.

Replit has a few different pricing plans, including a free plan, a $7/month plan, and a $20/month plan. However, only the $20/month plan includes Ghostwriter, so that's what you'll need to get Replit's AI for code generation capabilities.

Ghostwriter is very fast and supports many different languages, although it works best with Python and JavaScript. However, you can't use it with any old IDE since it works only with the Replit IDE.

Verdict

The Replit Ghostwriter AI is a great option if you're looking for a browser-based platform that you can access from anywhere. It's great for auto-completing code and debugging, as well as for giving it prompts through its chat interface.

Tabnine

Tabnine landing page.

Tabnine is a very popular, deep-learning-based AI code generator. Like many of the tools on the list, it's able to auto-complete your code and give you code suggestions. The code it outputs will be written in the same style as your code. It's generally accurate and fast, and it will work with many different programming languages. Another advantage is that it's very easy to integrate with the most popular IDEs.

But the thing that really sets Tabnine apart from other future AI tools is how much the company is dedicated to keeping your data private. In fact, they don't even use your data to train their models. You can use it for free, although for completing functions and whole lines of code, you'll need to get the Pro version, which is currently priced at $12/month.

Verdict

Tabnine is a solid AI code generation tool on its own, especially if you value your privacy. In addition, its output is pretty good, its pricing is reasonable for the features it provides, and using it is generally easy since you can integrate it with your favorite IDE. However, it takes some time for the tool to learn your coding style and provide good suggestions. In addition, though it works with many programming languages, its accuracy varies a lot between different languages.

CodeWP

CodeWP landing page.

CodeWP is an AI chat code generator specifically built for WordPress creators. If you want to code some custom WordPress functionality or a WordPress plugin but don't have the necessary WordPress knowledge, CodeWP is the perfect tool for you. CodeWP prompts you to simply describe what you're trying to accomplish, and it generates the code you need. It also comes with a bunch of premade code snippets that you can copy and paste.

CodeWP’s generative AI for code is cloud-based, accurate, fast, and easy to use. You can use CodeWP with ten monthly generations for free, but unlimited generations and more advanced AI functionalities will cost $12 a month.

Verdict

If you're a WordPress developer, CodeWP would be the best AI for code generation for you. While other AI tools can also be used for WordPress, CodeWP is the only tool on the list that's specifically built with WordPress in mind.

Amazon CodeWhisperer

Amazon CodeWhisperer landing page.

CodeWhisperer, developed by Amazon, is a great AI tool if you're working with the AWS API or the Amazon Suite in general. Similar to other AI code generation tools on the list, you can use natural language in a comment to generate code from CodeWhisperer.

In addition, it scans your code to find security vulnerabilities (only in some IDEs and languages), it can auto-complete your code while you're typing, and it works with many different programming languages. CodeWhisperer is pretty accurate, easy to use, fast enough, compatible with popular IDEs such as Visual Studio Code and JetBrains, and can provide both short snippets of code and whole functions. Unlike most of the tools on the list, Amazon CodeWhisperer is free for individuals.

Verdict

Amazon CodeWhisperer is another accurate, fast, and easy-to-use AI tool to generate code. If you're working with the Amazon Suite, this is the AI code tool for you.

PyCharm

PyCharm landing page.

If you're a Python developer, you're probably already familiar with PyCharm. It's not just an AI for generating code, but a very popular Python IDE. However, you may not be aware that it also has an AI coding assistant among its many features. It can auto-complete your code, identify and notify you of errors, and facilitate code testing. Since many Python developers use PyCharm anyway, it's very easy for them to use its AI-based code generation tools. If you're already using PyCharm, you don't have to pay for a separate code generation tool. If you aren't a current user, PyCharm is more expensive than the other tools on this list (given that it's much more than an AI code tool) and costs $25 a month.

Verdict

PyCharm is not for everybody. But if you're a Python developer, PyCharm is a great tool for you, both as an IDE and as a code generation tool.

Codiga

If code review is your main concern rather than code generation, you can opt for Codiga instead of some of the other tools on the list. Codiga's primary strength lies in reviewing code and resolving any identified issues. You can significantly reduce errors and vulnerabilities in your code with this tool, enhancing the security of your products. Codiga can also generate code, although that's not its main purpose. It's compatible with many IDEs and programming languages, although PHP is not supported.

Verdict

Codiga is a very solid tool if AI code review and security are your top priorities. If you're looking for the best AI code generation tool instead, you should probably look for another tool on the list.

Impact of Using AI Code Generation Tools on Software Development

With AI code generation tools, code creation is significantly faster. This also means that far more code is being created now than before such tools became prominent. This is especially true for less experienced developers, who can now write code much faster.

Code generation tools have led to a shift in the role of the developer. This shift has created a demand for tools that enable developers to efficiently manage code snippets produced by AI tools, including saving, searching, sharing, referencing, and reusing them. A solution like Pieces for Developers can effectively facilitate these processes.

Pieces has a ton of features that make code management much easier. For example, when you save a snippet, Pieces automatically extracts and enriches the snippet with the project name, source file, collaborators, related links, a description, and so on. That way, your snippets are automatically augmented with useful context and metadata when you save them. This is far superior to solutions like saving your snippets in a note-taking app.

Pieces offers plugins and extensions as well. For example, Pieces has a new Microsoft Teams plugin that allows you to easily save, enrich, and extract code snippets, right within your chats. It even enables you to generate code right from the chat, as well as ask the AI any sorts of questions about your project.

Additionally, Pieces has browser extensions that allow you to save code snippets from ChatGPT or other websites. It enables you to easily search from your saved snippets, which becomes increasingly important as your number of saved snippets grows. You can also discover related snippets in your source code repositories with the click of a button.

Pieces can also convert screenshots into code or text. If you have a screenshot of a piece of code, you only need to drag and drop it into the Pieces Desktop App, and it will convert it into a code snippet. In addition, you can use Pieces for Developers to make code more readable, improve its performance, or transform code from one language to another.

Conclusion

In this article, you learned about the importance of AI code generation tools and how they can significantly ease your development process. You saw nine of the best AI code generation tools currently on the market, including their accuracy, ease of use, pricing, speed, and features.

You also learned about Pieces for Developers and some of its numerous advantages over other AI code generators. These include saving, searching, and reusing snippets; snippet auto-enrichment; connecting to other software through plugins and extensions; transforming code from one language to another; as well as numerous other features. If you want to bring your coding game to a new level, try the Pieces Copilot and other AI-powered features in Pieces today.


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