How software developers can harness ChatGPT to solve real-life situations
ChatGPT, OpenAI’s chatbot, has found many real-life uses since it was released in late 2022. Writers and marketers are using it to create text and ads, artists and photographers are using it to generate and manipulate imagery, and students are using it to write their essays.
Technology companies are early adopters of breakthrough technologies, and ChatGPT has been widely accepted and put to use in a variety of ways. In particular, ChatGPT and other AI language models help them stay competitive in their extremely fast-moving environment by saving human time and introducing efficiencies that save money.
Software developers are finding that ChatGPT and other AI tools can help them operate more efficiently and productively by streamlining the coding process. The CEO of technology company, Nvidia, Jensen Huang, said recently that the ability to write code by issuing a few commands to an AI system has bridged what he called the ‘digital divide’.
“The programming barrier is incredibly low,” he said. “Everyone is a programmer now — you just have to say something to the computer.” While his comments suggest that everybody can now become a coder, that’s probably a simplistic view. However, what is clear is that ChatGPT and other language models can help professional developers in their development journey.
Here are some ChatGPT use cases that developers are already using:
ChatGPT is known for its ability to generate code snippets by leveraging its massive knowledge about programming languages, libraries, and frameworks. Like it does for writers struggling with writer’s block, ChatGPT gives developers a hand when they’re stuck with a problem or need a starting point for their code.
Developers can simply describe their requirements to ChatGPT, and it almost instantly comes back with code examples or templates that can then be customised and integrated into their work. This can save huge amounts of time and effort and it supports the re-use of code, which lifts productivity.
Troubleshooting and debugging
A software developer’s role often involves troubleshooting and debugging problems. ChatGPT helps by providing insights and suggesting possible solutions to the issues a developer may be facing.
They simply type the problem they’re facing into the ChatGPT user interface, and it comes back with relevant suggestions. While developers shouldn’t see ChatGPT as a substitute for thorough debugging techniques, it can be used as a valuable resource to help them view issues from a different angle.
Exploring APIs and libraries
The landscape of APIs and libraries is vast, which can sometimes be overwhelming for a developer. ChatGPT can bridge this knowledge gap by supplying information and examples about specific APIs and libraries. For example, it can help a developer understand the use of a specific API, explore available parameters and functions, or get insights on best practices.
Design and architecture
Software development involves making important decisions about design patterns, architecture, and system structure. ChatGPT has a solid use case as a sounding board for developers that lets them discuss ideas, brainstorm potential solutions, and get valuable feedback.
Learning and skill development
In the fast-moving world of software development, it’s essential for developers to stay up to date with the latest technologies and practices. ChatGPT can support by providing explanations, tutorials, and even personalised learning paths, depending on what the developer needs or is interested in.
Real-life example of how ChatGPT can help developers
Here’s an example where ChatGPT could help a developer with a real-life situation.
Their interaction with ChatGPT might go like this:
Dev: “I’m working on a web app and need to implement email functionality. Can you help with some code snippets or guidance?”
Dev: “I’m using Node.js with Express.js for the backend. I need to send emails using a library like Nodemailer. Can you give an example of how to send a basic email?”
ChatGPT: “Yes. Here’s an example of how you can use Nodemailer in Node.js to send a basic email.”
ChatGPT then provides the code, with the following comment: “Note that you need to replace ‘email@example.com and ‘your-password’ with your Gmail account details. Also make sure you have the Nodemailer library installed in your project.”
In this example (which was actually performed in ChatGPT), ChatGPT provides a code snippet that shows how to use Nodemailer, a library for sending emails in Node.js. It includes the steps to create a transporter, define email options, and send the email.
The generated code is a foundation that the developer can modify and integrate into their web application.
In short, ChatGPT, with its natural language processing capabilities and huge knowledge of programming languages, frameworks, and libraries, is a very valuable tool for developers. If you haven’t set aside time yet to explore it’s capabilities, it’s definitely worth the effort!