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Love them or hate them, large language models (LLM) are here to stay. After opening the Pandora’s Box of ChatGPT in late 2022, everyone from developers to grandmas began using the tool to get the answers they wanted – and fast. As with every other new technology, ChatGPT created a new set of security risks, impacting both organizations as malicious actors use it to write realistic phishing emails and developers as they seek to improve their delivery times. 

If you’re looking to use ChatGPT for coding, you should understand its capabilities and limitations so that you make informed decisions about when and how to use it. 

What is ChatGPT Coding Assistant?

While many developers use the free version GPT-3 version to answer coding questions, the paid version of OpenAI’s ChatGPT Coding Assistant leverages the advanced GPT-4 model provides features like:

  • Code completion: using predictive analytics to automatically suggest code snippets using its knowledge base to research syntax and relevant functions
  • Code generation: using natural language descriptions that describe functionality to generate code snippets for less experienced developers or alternate implementations
  • Code optimization: analyzing code examples or descriptions of inefficiencies to suggest improvements that improve application performance, like optimizing memory usage

OpenAI trained the ChatGPT neural network on large quantities of code examples so that it could learn and generate relevant code suggestions across various code semantics, syntactical patterns, and programming frameworks. 

What are the benefits of using ChatGPT for coding?

Since ChatGPT can transform inputs written in normal human language into code-based outputs, the AI assistant enables developers to ship applications faster. 

Close education gap

ChatGPT gives less experienced developers a way to ask technical questions without requiring them to use technical language. Less experienced developers can ask questions using everyday language, and ChatGPT answers with things like:

  • Unfinished code snippets for practicing new skills
  • Explanations of functions 
  • Conversational answers so developers can ask follow-up, clarification questions

ChatGPT enables developers to learn at their own pace through dynamic interactions so they can understand how the code and functions work rather than simply copying and pasting the generated code snippets. 

Faster time-to-market

ChatGPT’s code completion capability means that you can solve problems faster, reducing the time it takes to ship code. Instead of spending hours reading through search engine results, you can use ChatGPT to provide responses, enabling you to:

  • Analyze different completions
  • Understand the reasoning behind them
  • Compare multiple solutions
  • Observe patterns, coding conventions, and idiomatic approaches
  • Experiment with different ways to write code and solve problems

Fixing bugs faster

Developers can spend hours scouring the internet for how to resolve issues. Using ChatGPT, you can write a prompt that helps identify and fix the bug faster by:

  • Describing the issue, including any symptoms, error messages, or unexpected behavior
  • Pasting the code snippet into the prompt
  • Explaining how the code should work when fixed
  • Asking for guidance on how to fix the issues, including potential causes, debugging strategies, or specific code modifications

Improved code optimization

Code optimization improves your application’s performance and makes it easier to maintain. Using ChatGPT, you can break down code and analyze the smaller components for opportunities like:

  • Changing data types to reduce the number of conversions taking pl