Developers Use AI to Work Faster, Smarter — Here’s How

August 31, 2023 | Reskilling Your Workforce | 5 min read

In the fast-paced world of web development and software engineering exist a multitude of challenges:

  • Tight deadlines
  • Intense workloads
  • Cybersecurity threats
  • Continuous technological change
  • The need to constantly stay on top of learning (and everything else) name a few.

However, the recent boost of generative AI platforms and tools has ushered in new opportunities to tackle these challenges head-on. And developers are catching on quickly. A GitHub-Wakefield Research study revealed 92% of developers have begun using AI tools at work — and for good reason.

AI's role in building websites, apps or software solutions provides developers with numerous ways to work more efficiently. From automating mundane tasks to predicting user behavior and personalizing content, AI is changing the way developers work and the products they create.

With this in mind, how are developers using AI to bolster their efforts? Let's dive in.

Cut Down on Repetitive Tasks to Save Time

Generative AI, machine learning and other facets of the technology have become integral parts of developers' workflow. AI is particularly good at automating simple, repetitive tasks. Doing so frees up developers' time to work on more complex projects, which helps strike an ideal balance between what's best suited for the machine versus the human.

A GitHub study found 88% of developers felt more productive at work when using its Copilot. "I have to think less, and when I have to think it’s the fun stuff. It sets off a little spark that makes coding more fun and more efficient," said a study participant, who works as a senior software engineer.

McKinsey research found that developers leaning on generative AI at work sped up their output in these areas:

  • Up to 50% faster at code documentation
  • Up to 45% faster at code generation
  • Up to 30% faster at code refactoring

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Improve Test Accuracy and Frequency

AI enhances testing by:

  • Automating repetitive tasks
  • Predicting potential errors
  • Identifying bugs
  • Supporting continuous testing
  • Optimizing test cases
  • Conducting performance testing

These capabilities make testing more efficient and accurate, helping developers create high-quality software more quickly. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind. Currently, artificial intelligence tools can stumble when faced with complex assignments.

"AI often lacks the nuanced understanding and context required to address complex bugs effectively," writes Nicole Abramowski, a full stack software engineer and writer, in CareerFoundry. "Bugs can arise from various factors such as conflicting code interactions, server configurations, or external dependencies, requiring a deep understanding of the codebase and system architecture."

All this is to say that while AI can support testing, humans must complete the analyses to ensure accuracy. But, going through this process supported by AI can speed up a sometimes painstakingly long process.

Codecademy has a free course on debugging Python code with ChatGPT. It's meant to show developers how to effectively work with ChatGPT to debug code, and more.

Speed Up Development with Copilots, Natural Language Programming

AI copilots like GitHub Copilot, OpenAI's ChatGPT, Amazon CodeWhisperer and others are seeing a surge in adoption by developers for their ability to speed up development significantly.

A study by GitHub split a group of 95 developers randomly in half to see the impact its copilot could have at work. The assignment was to write a web server in JavaScript.

The developers in the group that used GitHub Copilot finished in just over an hour on average, whereas those in the group that didn't spent nearly three hours on the task. What's more, the group using the copilot also had a higher completion rate, meaning more developers finished the assignment.

Tools like these are changing the way developers code and for the better. Working with copilots like GitHub's or ChatGPT help make programming easier and more accessible, especially since human developers can interface with machines like they would a co-worker.

“That allows you, as a developer, to have an intent to accomplish something in your head that you can express in natural language and this technology translates it into code that achieves the intent you have,” said Kevin Scott, Microsoft's CTO, in an article. “That’s a fundamentally different way of thinking about development than we’ve had since the beginning of software.”

Of course, copilots are not always perfect. Despite its capabilities, AI may generate erroneous code due to limitations in understanding complex programming logic, a lack of context, or training data inaccuracies. So, it's always important to double and triple-check work.

Close Skill Gaps with AI-Enhanced Learning

AI tools help developers learn by doing. As these tools provide code suggestions in the flow of work, developers can learn new methods, functions, or best practices sometimes directly within their dev environment. They can also leverage AI chatbots to ask questions or clarify doubts in real-time.

AI also allows for adaptive learning, where the learning path changes based on the learner's progress, ensuring they're always challenged or engaged. This way, AI aids in creating a more efficient and effective learning journey for software developers.

What's more, AI-powered learning platforms like Skillsoft's Percipio provide personalized content based on the developer's proficiency level, interests, and career goals. These platforms use algorithms to analyze the developer's interaction with the platform, including completed courses, search queries, and assessment results, to recommend relevant learning resources.

Lean into AI-Powered Learning Solutions

In software development, continuous learning is crucial. Skillsoft provides training solutions to help developers keep pace with the latest technological advancements — like generative AI — while working toward their career goals.

With Skillsoft's Codecademy, developers gain access to a robust platform, Percipio, which uses AI to personalize and enhance the learning experience for each person. The AI tailors learning based on user profiles, search behavior, learning activity, skill assessments, and roles. (Read about 12 ways Skillsoft Percipio uses AI.)

Whether you're interested in AI, web development, software engineering, cybersecurity or another area, you can start learning with Skillsoft today — for free. Get started today by signing up for a trial.