In this backend user story, we spoke with Alvin Jolene. Alvin has been working as a backend software developer for three years. In his current position, he’s building a REST API to serve as the backend for a content submission platform that will facilitate the work between freelancers and their clients. Alvin works largely as a solo developer, but he’s found a helping hand in the Pieces Copilot.
- Streamlined Workflow: Directly integrates with the IDE, eliminating the need to switch contexts between coding and seeking assistance.
- Ease of Use: Exceptionally intuitive and user-friendly, allowing for immediate and efficient use from day one.
- Efficient Code Snippet Management: Offers a clutter-free way to store and manage code snippets, replacing less efficient methods like using a notes app or commenting out code blocks.
- Enhanced Productivity for Solo Developers: Particularly beneficial for developers working independently, facilitating more organized and efficient coding practices.
- Potential for Collaboration: Features like snippet sharing are promising for collaborative projects, even if not currently used by Alvin.
- Incremental Efficiency Gains: Provides small but meaningful enhancements to the development process, collectively contributing to a significant improvement in workflow.
- High Satisfaction with Minimal Investment: Rated highly in terms of satisfaction, offering a worthwhile boost to productivity with little to no cost.
Alvin’s Tech Stack:
- IDEs: IntelliJ, Eclipse
- Other tools: Pieces, ChatGPT
Combatting Context Switching
Like nearly every software developer, Alvin immediately recognized that ChatGPT could help to answer coding questions much more quickly than searching the web. But copying code, pasting it into ChatGPT, having a conversation, and then moving code back to his IDE seems clunky now that he uses Pieces Copilot.
“One thing that's useful with Pieces is that I don't have to tab out [of my IDE]. I can literally just highlight the code, open the copilot, and then ask a question. It's sort of a small efficiency boost, but it still is an efficiency boost,” explains Alvin. “Before, I would literally copy-paste all that code, put it into GPT-4, and then ask a question. So I found myself naturally using Pieces for that instead.”
But, in-IDE copilot is not the only upside Alvin finds in Pieces. “I would say the number one thing about Pieces is just how easy it is to use; I think everything is just extremely intuitive,” says Alvin. “Literally day one, right? 20 minutes in, if I want to find something I could just instantly do it. It's very easy to navigate to find whatever you're looking for.” As his repository grows, that ease of navigation becomes more and more valuable.
Simplifying Code Snippet Management
Alvin used to save blocks of code in his notes app but now stores them in his Pieces repository. Instead of cluttering his production code with commented-out code blocks, they’re safe in Pieces.
“There are lots of cases where I want to save the code anyway, so saving in Pieces and then deleting it is a double functionality of saving it for later and also just getting rid of it so we can try something else,” says Alvin. “If I had a method where I wanted to try a different implementation, I would comment it out or put it in Notepad and then rewrite it. Now, I just put in Pieces and it's a little bit easier and a little bit less messy to do so.”
As a largely solo developer, Alvin doesn’t often work with other devs on the same project. But Pieces’ sharing features intrigue him, and he sees their promise. “I think the main point of this is to share snippets with other people. If I were collaborating with others, I could definitely see that Pieces could be really useful.”
While Alvin doesn’t feel that any particular Pieces feature has revolutionized his workflow, all of those smaller boosts add up. When asked to rate his overall Pieces experience, Alvin thinks for a moment. “Satisfaction-wise, I would say 8.5, pretty high. But impact wise… it's like a bag of Lay's chips. It's not a big boost to your life, but it's also really cheap. So why not, right? It's a completely free boost.”