Recently, GitHub publicly unveiled Copilot, the preview of its “AI pair programmer,” a code completion style tool designed to provide line or function suggestions in your IDE. It has certainly made waves in the world of programming and beyond, and you have likely heard at least something about it.

But Copilot is more than simple autocomplete and is more context aware than other code assistants. Powered by OpenAI’s Codex AI system, Copilot contextualizes a situation using docstrings, function names, comments, and preceding code to best generate and suggest what it determines to be the most appropriate code. Copilot is designed to improve over time, “learning” from how developers use it.

Trained on billions of lines of public code, GitHub Copilot puts the knowledge you need at your fingertips, saving you time and helping you stay focused.

Currently available for Visual Studio Code and platforms powered by a VS Code backend — such as GitHub’s Codespaces — Copilot “understands” dozens of languages, with the technical preview being noted as doing “especially well for Python, JavaScript, TypeScript, Ruby, and Go.” You can accept default code suggestions, cycle through additional proposals, modify the code you accept, or ignore Copilot suggestions at a particular point in your code altogether.

Presently, Copilot is only available via approved request. But fret not; open source alternatives of varying specification exist, and are available for you to try out right now.

Let’s have a look at 4 code-generation and -suggestion alternatives to GitHub Copilot that you can use in your programming today. Though my investigation into these was prompted by the discovery of Second Mate (below), I have listed the options in descending order by number of GitHub stars, as it seemed as good a way to do so as any.

We will start this off with a code suggestion tool, as opposed to code generation, but do so as with 514 stars at publication time, this seems to be the most popular of our alternatives.

This feature is somewhat similar to Github Copilot’s code suggestion. But instead of using AI, it sends your search query to Google, then retrieves StackOverflow answers and autocompletes them for you.

Captain Stack only works with VSCode, making it an especially Copilot analog, and is installed as a VSCode extension.

Use Captain Stack to automate your Stack Overflow code copying! 🙂

GPT-CC is a code-generation tool which employs a GPT-3 model…

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