University Student User Stories: Simplifying Coursework, Internships, and Hackathons

Kyle Goben is a well-rounded software engineering student at Iowa State University. He’s still early in his career, but he’s developed his own way of doing things through his coursework, several internships, and hackathons. “Hackathons are 24-hour sprints from start to finish of a new project,” explains Kyle. “I use Pieces a lot in those as well as in my general workflow throughout school.”

Benefits Highlights:

Improved Code Snippet Management:

  • Integrates seamlessly with favorite development tools (Desktop App, VS Code Extension, Chrome Extension).
  • Facilitates easy searching and retrieval of snippets during coding sessions.

Efficient Code Retrieval:

  • Solves the challenge of tracking code generated with ChatGPT or found on external sites.
  • Offers tailored solutions to common problems, saving developers time.

Enhanced Context Retention:

  • Automatically saves a snippet's origin website as a Related Link.
  • Eliminates the need to comb through search history, providing context when revisiting code snippets.

Simplified AI-Generated Conversations:

  • Pieces Copilot features, such as auto-generated conversation titles and summaries, streamline the process of finding specific code snippets among numerous conversations.
  • Saves time and frustration compared to manually scrolling through conversations.

Context-Specific Conversations with Copilot:

  • Pieces Copilot allows developers to set context and ask repository-specific questions.
  • Particularly useful during hackathons or when working on unfamiliar frameworks.

Ease of Learning and Navigation:

  • Helps developers quickly understand the structure and formatting of new frameworks or projects.
  • Provides a smoother learning curve, especially for those working with unfamiliar technologies.

Overall Versatility:

  • Useful for managing and documenting reference code in various scenarios, including hackathons and daily workflows.

Kyle’s Tech Stack: 

  • Languages: React, NextJS, Tailwind, CSS
  • IDEs: VS Code 
  • Other tools: Pieces, ChatGPT

Managing Code Snippets

Before Pieces, Kyle’s code snippet practices were, “pretty minimal.” Mostly he’d paste a useful snippet from Stack Overflow into a file, leave comments around in-project code he thought he could reuse later, or manually search for previous solutions by combing through his ChatGPT conversations or redoing a Google search. 

“Before Pieces, I wasn't using any snippet tools,” says Kyle. “I pasted snippets into my IDE and then tried to remember. I knew it was on Stack Overflow, or I knew it was on Friday. So I went back a few weeks and looked at all the Fridays until I could find that code snippet or that website that talked about it, so it caused a pretty big headache. Before Pieces, I didn't have a solution to manage snippets very well.” 

Luckily, Pieces fits seamlessly into Kyle’s workflow by integrating with his favorite dev tools. Right now, he’s supercharging his development process with one of the most powerful Pieces Suite combos: the Pieces Desktop App, the Pieces VS Code Extension, and the Pieces Chrome Extension. “The Desktop App is most intuitive,” Kyle explains. 

“I search through the Desktop App to find my snippet and then copy and paste that if I need it while I am coding. The extensions help my workflow in different ways. The Chrome extension makes saving snippets from the internet easy, and the VS Code extension is more large language model-driven as far as querying on different repositories.”

Easily Finding Previous Code

Before Pieces, Kyle had trouble keeping track of the code he generated with ChatGPT and the solutions he found on Stack Overflow and other coding sites. Since installing the Pieces Suite, he’s reclaimed his time with Pieces’ tailored solutions to these common yet infuriating problems.

Leveraging Related Links

Like many developers, especially those learning new languages, Kyle’s first stop for solutions to a bug is often Stack Overflow. But, simply copying code from the site meant that Kyle lost important context and wasted time looking for that solution again in the future. 

Because Pieces automatically saves a snippet’s origin website as a Related Link, Kyle never has to comb through his search history again. “If I’m looking on Stack Overflow, I can copy a code snippet and Pieces saves the web page,” says Kyle. “It saves time so I don't have to go back into my search history to find the website.”

With this simple fix, Kyle’s workflow is already smoother. “I found context switching between the internet or Stack Overflow and my actual coding a lot easier. If a week later I wanted to go back to a code snippet, I could find it again on Stack Overflow with the saved link that I already had,” Kyle says. 

Sifting through AI-Generated Conversations

It’s a story we all know. “I've migrated a lot of my code generation to ChatGPT,” Kyle says. “But as far as re-viewing code snippets on ChatGPT— you wouldn't like to see my chat history there. It's a mess! I might have to scroll through a hundred conversations, looking for a snippet.”

But, Kyle doesn’t always have the time to scroll through that many conversations. “After a few minutes, I get frustrated and just start a new chat to try to get that code generated again,” he says. He’s found that a few Pieces Copilot features make finding the correct conversation far easier, especially auto-generated conversation titles and summaries.

“Finding a code snippet among 30 conversations would be a lot faster and easier on Pieces versus ChatGPT, where I'm scrolling through so many conversations and clicking on them,” Kyle says. “I find Pieces very informative— the actual summary made sense versus trying to match up something random in my head. That was very straightforward and quite helpful for someone who doesn't want to rename each chat.” 

Chatting about Code with Pieces Copilot

One of Kyle’s favorite features is Pieces Copilot, especially the ability to set the copilot context and ask questions specifically about his repository. “I was working in a hackathon a couple of weekends ago, I found it very helpful to be able to ask questions and learn more about a new framework,” he says. “I found it a lot easier to pick up and hit the ground running during those 24 hours.”

In this hackathon, Kyle and his team built a financial literacy project in Dart. “I've never worked in Dart before, so I was panicking a little bit in the beginning!” Kyle laughs. “As our repository got more complex, I found my contributions slowing down. That's when I remembered that I had Pieces and I could query on the actual repository. I was trying to integrate some button on the screen, and I was able to query our repository and ask, ‘Where should I put this code?’ or ‘How is this framework formatted?’ Using Pieces to show me the lay of the land was helpful in that situation.”

Context-specific conversations mean that Pieces Copilot beat out ChatGPT for Kyle. “Being able to set the context to different files or repositories that I’m working on helps a lot,” Kyle explains. “When I was using GPT-4, to get the context that I wanted I had to copy and paste files I'm working on, but with Pieces, I can just set that context and hit the ground running.”

Final Thoughts

From behind-the-scenes context capture to actively generating code, Kyle found a lot to like about Pieces. “Saving the code snippets from a Stack Overflow page is a really useful tool; saving the source website was probably my favorite feature,” says Kyle. “Using some of the large language model-type features, like setting the context for a certain repository, was helpful in a lot of cases. It’s really awesome to be able to use Pieces to set the context of an entire repository and reference the whole project.” 

But the all-important question remains: Would he recommend Pieces for Developers? “I would definitely recommend it to anyone who's looking for snippet management or honestly any developer that uses any sort of large language model tool to help them generate code or document their reference code in any way,” Kyle says. If that’s you, try it out for free here.

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