GitHub Copilot; Friend or Foe

Paul Muller
Feb 13, 2024

In this duo-blog, two of our SogetiLabs Fellows talk about their hands-on experience using GitHub Copilot.

Hi Peter, how are you? Looking vital and sustainable as ever!

Vitalized as always! How about you? How is your productivity going?

Well, now that you mention it, that could use some improvement…
I hear a lot about GitHub Copilot among
other tools. I understand you have started using it too.
Yes, after years trying to boost my productivity with Stack Overflow and Google, I thought ‘why not give it a try?’, even though I was quite skeptical. I must say, I still am, what about you?
I was really skeptical about it,
because of all the fuzz and buzz online.
There is a big hype going on with the 55% productivity boost that prevented me from stepping on the Copilot train. What are your first impressions?
To be honest: not that bad. It is really nice to see how it is integrated in the various Visual Studio versions, like a sort of super IntelliSense! Did you have the same experience?
After you were bragging about it, I bought a year’s subscription.
And I have to say, using it in my very first file, a Markdown file, it helped me out a lot. Of course, if you write Markdown a lot, this might seem trivial to you, but in my day-to-day job I use a plethora of tools and languages. I always get confused about how to do things like for example tables. GitHub Copilot really was remarkably smart and helpful with my markup and language queries in Visual Studio Code!
Yeah! I asked it to translate a bash script into PowerShell and it did a great job, even adding some parameter validation which I would probably not have thought of myself. But the big question: are you now at least 50% more productive…?
Well that some strong marketing percentage, but I am definitely less annoyed by bash,
PowerShell and Markdown quirks. I would say it saves me switching context to Google or StackOverflow. My gut feeling says maybe 10 or 15%? But is it hard to measure. For example, one of the questions I asked was regarding some json configuration, and it started spitting out garbage. Did you experience something like this also?
Yeah, I agree, about 10-20%. But I also feel more ‘happiness’ when I get some good suggestions. It saves a few minutes here and there and that is really nice. I have seen garbage though yes, and it can be very tricky to spot when a lot of code is generated and just some variables are named incorrectly.
That is a nice angle, instead of focusing on
percentages, Developer Velocity and
Developer Happiness are really important! My guess for the future? AI is not replacing me anytime soon, but I’m definitely happier having a Copilot fixing my minor mistakes, or even helping me out with Unit testing or JavaScript quirks.
Do you think this will replace experience of a developer?
No I don’t think so.
You still need to have experience so it will boost you,
not replace the years of experience. Think about a DIY project. Having a normal screwdriver, or using an impact driver? Without experience you will have no clue how to fabricate, use wood, use screws, and what type. An experienced carpenter will definitely be a lot quicker with the impact driver than with a normal screwdriver, but only because he knows wat he is doing!
So, you are keeping your subscription? I certainly will, I have paid more for less useful stuff in my life 😊
I paid for one year so I can test this out for
a longer period. And indeed, any streaming service will cost at least double this amount, and spending less time searching for trivial fixes makes me want to keep using GitHub Copilot, until something better comes along 😉
Happy coding!

About the author

Senior Technology Consultant | Netherlands
Peter Rombouts is a Multi Cloud Solution Architect (Azure and AWS) with a strong focus on the Microsoft Azure platform. Supporting enterprise organisations in the Netherlands as consultant, lead developer and architect. Currently employed as a SIG Certified software consultant, Microsoft Certified Azure Architect, AWS Certified Solution Architect and certified Scrum Master in the Netherlands.
Senior Software Architect Microsoft | Netherlands
I joined Sogeti in 2022, after working as a Microsoft .Net developer and Azure architect in retail and the energy sector among others for over 20 years. Combining Cloud infra with Cloud applications in integrated environments is what I love most, hands-on delivering scalable and resilient solutions.

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