GitHub is hosting its annual GitHub Universe conference this week with new features announced adding even more power to the site’s GitHub, GitHub Copilot and GitHub Codespaces actions, and introducing GitHub issues.
Nat Friedman, Managing Director, took the stage to make the announcements while Thomas Dohmke, Product Manager, spoke with iTWire to provide more detail on what the announcements mean, in practice, to developers around the world.
“GitHub puts the developer at the center of everything we do,” Dohmke said. “Our daily goal is to integrate our work into the lives of software developers, including students and professionals. “
GitHub now has 73 million developers on its platform. If GitHub were a country, it would be the 20th largest in the world, below Germany and above Thailand. So when GitHub makes a change – saving a click of a button, saving milliseconds on an operation, or even rebuilding your entire development environment overnight – its impact is magnified by millions and millions. of developers performing billions of interactions every day.
In fact, says Dohmke, GitHub has delivered more than 20,000 enhancements over the past year – continuous changes, “paper cuts” as GitHub calls them, that fix small issues or generally improve operation. These are documented in the GitHub changelog.
Then we have this week’s big announcements, big innovations to dramatically improve developer productivity, increase security, and help teams collaborate.
The first big announcement is support for additional languages for GitHub Copilot. This is GitHub’s AI-based programming assistant that was trained on the GPT3 Open AI model from open source code available on GitHub, in partnership with Open AI. The source code used to train the model is the same code that was archived in the Arctic Vault at GitHub and was shared with the Internet Archive. Well, not entirely – the source code has been cleaned up to ensure that no obscene behavior or security issues have been included.
Using GitHub Copilot, a software developer can start entering code and the Copilot will get involved in connecting to a database or encrypting a string, or a plethora of other routine tasks. It determines what you’re doing based on contextual clues and comes up with a suggestion that you – as a pilot – can adopt, modify, or reject.
According to GitHub telemetry reports, developers using GitHub Copilot are producing apps where about 30% of the newly written code comes from GitHub Copilot itself. 50% of people who have used GitHub Copilot so far are still using it after 90 days. Right now, GitHub Copilot has a waitlist, but GitHub is draining the waitlist as fast as possible, subject to the availability of the GPU to run the computational models needed to drive the AI.
Dohmke confirmed that GitHub Copilot servers are placed around the world to reduce latency, including servers in the APAC region.
GitHub’s next big announcement is about GitHub code spaces; it is a container-based development environment that you can run as needed. It provides you with a cloud development environment that is not tied to anything on your local machine. You can have multiple GitHub code spaces with multiple environments and branches. You can try a different compiler or other stuff and if they don’t work just discard the code space and revert to your previous version.
It’s an “infinite laptop,” says GitHub. It also makes it easier to integrate new team members. GitHub itself has moved 600 developers to GitHub code spaces and cut the onboarding time for a new employee to set up their development environment from 45 minutes to ten seconds.
Two new features were announced; GitHub code spaces now integrate with the GitHub CLI and you can also SSH into your code space and run real commands.
Harvard University has adopted Codespaces for its CS50 computer science course. Not only is it faster and easier for students to level up, but now they can focus on their course without the complexity of setting up an environment they are unfamiliar with.
GitHub code spaces are billed based on usage and new features have been added at no cost increase.
Problems with GitHub
GitHub announced the GitHub issues, available to all users and currently in beta (pictured above).
This is a feature designed to keep developers in the flow and follows a simple idea of how we might take notes and sketches on paper at the moment. We don’t think about custom fields or requirements, we just empty our thoughts and then put them away.
Likewise, GitHub Issues provides a spreadsheet-like interface where you can quickly type in notes or lists, then add columns as a priority, assigned to, sprint, or whatever, and customize and group.
Dohmke says, “It’s as powerful for project management as Kubernetes is in its field. “
GitHub’s tool for automating workflows and continuous integration and continuous delivery now allows deployments to be approved from mobile apps. Of course, it’s always safe for your team to send out pull requests and review the code, but the entire development lifecycle can now be managed from a mobile device.
In fact, code spaces themselves can be built by GitHub actions allowing powerful flows such as rebuilding your entire development environment overnight. With this and GitHub’s Dependabot for Security Analysis, your team can start every day with a reliable, secure, and up-to-date version.
Other GitHub share announcements include OpenID connectivity, reusable workflows – repository to repository, rescheduling runners via API, and the marketplace has now reached 10,000 custom actions.
Additionally, scanning GitHub code to ensure that tokens (or secrets) are not exposed in public or private repositories now includes support for Ruby.
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