How to Use GitHub Copilot in VS Code

If you’d like to take coding to the next level, meet GitHub Copilot, the AI-powered coding assistant that can radically change how you code. GitHub Copilot uses the GPT-3 language model technology for quick code suggestions and improvements. The Copilot can make coding more accessible for newer devs just starting out or seasoned ones wanting to save time and brain power. It’s available for several integrated development environments (IDEs), including the popular Visual Studio (VS) Code.

How to Use GitHub Copilot in VS Code

In the article, we’ll show you how to install and use GitHub Copilot in VS Code, so you can savor the new coding age and all the neat benefits it brings.

How to Install GitHub Copilot

Before stepping into the new and exciting world of AI-powered coding, you’ll need to install GitHub Copilot. Here’s how to get it:

  1. Head over to your GitHub account and go to “Settings.”
  2. Pick “GitHub Copilot” on the left menu. Click “Allow” to enable it, then “Save.”
  3. Open Visual Studio Code and go to “Extensions.”
  4. Search for “GitHub Copilot.”
  5. Install GitHub Copilot and restart VS Code.

At the bottom of the window, you’ll see that GitHub Copilot is active in the IDE. Please note that the GitHub Copilot free trial period only lasts two months. You’ll need to subscribe if you’d like to continue using it after the trial.

Using GitHub Copilot in VS Code

After completing the setup, it’s time to see how GitHub Copilot looks in action. There are many ways to use the Copilot, and we’ll explore just a few everyday activities you’ll likely use.

Autocomplete Magic

GitHub Copilot is like the fairy godmother of coding, magically completing your code lines with AI-powered suggestions. To see these suggestions, start typing your code (in a supported language), and watch as GitHub Copilot offers context-aware suggestions. To accept a recommendation, press “Tab,” which will automatically appear in your code window.

Function Generation From Function Names or Comments

As opposed to some older AI coding assistants, GitHub Copilot has more tricks up its proverbial sleeve than autocomplete. It can also generate functions based on function names or comments you provide.

For example, if you’re creating a function to find the highest number in an array, start typing:

function findHighestNumber(array) { ...”

Wait a moment, and GitHub Copilot will suggest the rest of the function.

Help Examples

Perhaps you’re working with Javascript, Express, React, or Python classes. GitHub Copilot has got your back for these tasks. It can generate code templates for popular frameworks, making your development nearly effortless. Type a comment or function name describing what you want, and GitHub Copilot will conjure up the code. For example:

  • To generate a function to multiply two numbers in JavaScript, write a comment like “Create a function to multiply two numbers.” Then, press “Enter,” and GitHub Copilot will offer suggestions in your chosen language.
  • You can quickly generate arrays and objects with different data types with GitHub Copilot. For instance, you can create an array of items for a video game or an array of objects with key-value pairs combining numbers, strings, and booleans.
  • GitHub Copilot can also help you import modules and packages for React and Express. For example, you can import hooks like useState and useEffect in React or the CORS package in Express.
  • The Copilot can help you generate HTML code for web development. You can create elements like unordered lists, customize their styles, and much more.

GitHub Copilot the context of your code and is here to help with multiple suggestions.

Cycling Through Suggestions

GitHub Copilot is all about giving you options. If you don’t like the first suggestion it provides, use “Alt + ]” or “Option + ]” on Mac to cycle through alternative solutions. You can also press “Ctrl + Enter” to see up to 10 suggestions in a separate window. To accept a solution, hit “Tab” or press “Esc” to cancel and ignore all the suggestions.

Coding Tips to Max Out GitHub Copilot’s Potential

To make the most of this new AI-powered coding companion, we’ve got some tips to help you maximize its potential.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they can be handy when you want to squeeze out a little more time off your work. GitHub Copilot comes with a range of helpful keyboard shortcuts to speed up coding. Take the time to learn and master these shortcuts, and you’ll save more time in the future by coding faster than ever before.

For example, use “Ctrl + Enter” to open Copilot’s suggestions page or “Tab” to accept the suggestion. These shortcuts will help you navigate Copilot’s features quickly and efficiently.

GitHub Copilot for Repetitive Tasks

GitHub Copilot truly shines regarding repetitive tasks, like filling out forms or generating boilerplate code. Delegate these tedious tasks to your AI sidekick. This way, you’ll breeze through them and free up time for more intellectually engaging tasks. This means you can focus more on your project’s complex problems or creative aspects while Copilot handles mundane ones.

Learn From GitHub Copilot

Believe it or not, GitHub Copilot can be an excellent learning tool. It is ideal for new, aspiring developers and people who wish to program for fun and personal development but have been put off by the potentially steep learning curve. It isn’t a mere speed cheat.

Using the tool will expose you to many code patterns and best practices, helping you develop your coding skills and become a better developer. Observe how Copilot generates code and compare it with your own approaches. This lets you discover new techniques, optimize workflow, and expand programming knowledge. Over time, you may rely less on the Copilot for ideas and code fixes and use it more as a tedium automation tool.

Pair Programming With GitHub Copilot

Think of GitHub Copilot as your AI pair programmer. Use it to get a second opinion on your code, seek help with date time manipulation, or for assistance when you’re stumped. You can even use it to brainstorm ideas or explore alternative solutions to problems. You can treat the Copilot like a reliable teammate who’s always ready to lend a helping hand.

Multilingual Support

GitHub Copilot isn’t just limited to a single programming language. It supports many languages like C++, JavaScript, Python, TypeScript, Ruby, etc. This means you can rely on Copilot to help you navigate different project types or pick up new languages more easily.

Multilingual support offers some clear benefits to programming newbies learning their first language. But the benefits extend to experienced coders who may have worked with one language for many years but want to try a new language. The Copilot will make the transition painless by catching mistakes that happen when hopping from one language to another.

Faster, Simpler, and Easier

And there you have it – the first steps to using GitHub Copilot with Visual Studio Code. This AI-powered coding companion might seem intimidating or even cheaty initially, but it can make your coding adventures more enjoyable and efficient. Go forth and conquer those lines of code with your newfound sidekick, GitHub Copilot and enjoy cleaner, better code and more time for other tasks.

Have you tried GitHub Copilot already? Which of its features do you find the most useful? Keep the conversation going in the comment section below.

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