As the majority of coders and programmers know, ChatGPT is hugely useful for their craft. Thanks to its capacity for natural language processing (NLP), you can ‘speak’ to it as you would a human, simulating conversations and helping you talk through problems in your code.
In order to help you harness that power, we’ll be covering some of the best ways to use ChatGPT for coding and programming.
We’ll be splitting the various uses of the AI tool up based on which level of programming experience they’re most suitable for. That way, everyone from beginners to experts can get what they need out of ChatGPT.
One of the hardest parts of coding and programming is finding ways to get started. When you look at complex pieces of code, or apps with lots of functionalities that seem to run perfectly smoothly, it can seem daunting to try and get to that level from nothing.
However, with the advent of ChatGPT, coding has become more entry-level-friendly than ever before. The two functions below will help beginners find their feet in relative comfort.
Generating code snippets
It’s very easy to prompt ChatGPT to spit out a piece of code. All you have to do is specify what you’re looking for, and you can generate theoretically infinite snippets of code in all kinds of programming languages, for all kinds of purposes.
Unless you request otherwise, this will usually be incomplete code–and that’s very valuable to beginners.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re trying to learn how to code a basic function. You know where to find it in pre-existing code, and you know how it’s supposed to look, but what you aren’t sure about is how to start writing it.
You can get ChatGPT to start you off, so you can practice how to finish your function on your own. This lets you learn at your own pace, making it a beginner-friendly option.
Since it uses NLP to process your input, ChatGPT is capable of answering follow-up questions in a conversational manner. This makes it the perfect choice for anyone who’s still learning the basics and needs to ask a lot of questions to understand the material.
While it’s technically possible to speak to human programmers for a similar result, not everyone will have access to a teacher or experienced coder at all times. Even if they do, ChatGPT’s ability to explain new functions can still be useful for anyone looking to learn more slowly (or quickly).
You can even ask the AI to rephrase if you’re confused about something, as many times as you need. This lets you figure things out in the way that’s best for you.
Whether you’re a new coder with a solid grasp on the basics, or you’re already a programmer but learning a brand-new language, you may want the support of an AI to help you reach the intermediate stage.
While ChatGPT can answer questions, its main use isn’t as a source of advice for beginners. Instead, it’s particularly useful for those who need a hand with the following processes.
A major use for ChatGPT is as a bug fixer.
If you keep seeing the same error message or unwanted effect, and you need strong remote support, a quick solution is to plug the problematic code into ChatGPT and ask it for a fix. Often, it will resolve the problem for you–plus, you can ask how it did that.
The success rate goes up for simpler code, which makes this function perfect for people between absolute beginners and intermediate coders. And the explanation of how the bug was fixed is bound to be useful to just about anyone who’s willing to learn.
Completing partial code
We’ve already covered the fact that ChatGPT can generate snippets, chunks, or lines of code for you. While that’s perfect for someone without much experience, it might not be quite what you’re looking for when you’re lines away from finishing a project but you’re not sure how to proceed.
Instead, you’ll want to use ChatGPT’s code completion feature here. By observing the ways in which it completes partially-finished code, you can also start to learn how to do this for yourself. This makes it easier to move up and become an intermediate-level programmer.
As you start to get into more complex code and complicated programming, you’ll likely have less use for the above functions. However, ChatGPT can continue to be a great tool to support you.
The following use cases explain how.
When you’re looking for virtual spaces to host your content, you might manually research options–or you might ask an AI tool like ChatGPT to draw up a list for you. You could also ask it to assess options you already know about, like Only Domains in this example.
In the same way, you can instruct ChatGPT to help you explore libraries and figure out which ones suit your needs best.
This saves you time and effort. It also has the potential to encourage you to try a new library you didn’t have previous experience with, if the AI can convince you that that’s the best fit for your requirements.
Improving old code
Whether you’re looking to replace buggy code, or replace a very long piece with more concise language, it’s always worth putting in the work to fine-tune code you’ve already written. This also helps you learn from your past mistakes and continue to improve.
ChatGPT, as it turns out, is very capable of helping you with that endeavor.
You can optimize old code by asking ChatGPT to do exactly that. Better yet, you can take parts of your code and ask for ChatGPT’s help, then use its methods to approach the rest of the project, which lets you use the tool while maximizing your own learning opportunities.
As an advanced programmer, you likely won’t be asking ChatGPT to complete entire chunks of your project for you–not when you can do it yourself. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still use this tool to your advantage.
With the capacity for understanding more intricate coding, ChatGPT can be your ally as you take on challenging projects and push yourself to learn new things. Here’s how.
Comparing example code
As stated above, advanced coders don’t need to paste blocks of code written by an AI into their ongoing projects. By the time you’re able to work with more complex material, like MLOps solutions, it’s much more effective to use those chunks as learning material.
For example, you could ask ChatGPT to draw up a chunk of sample code, then dissect what it comes up with. You can determine what it does well, where it falls short, and how you’d approach the same assignment.
Perhaps more importantly, you can consider why ChatGPT gave the answer it did. What’s making that solution look better than the alternatives? Why?
This way, you can use your own expertise to learn from its mistakes and choices.
Translating between programming languages
Even experienced programmers don’t necessarily know how to write in every language. They might have experience with some of the most popular programming languages, but that doesn’t necessarily extend to every single one.
This is where ChatGPT’s capacity for programming language translation can really shine. Plus, if you are familiar with both languages that you’re translating between, you can assess how well ChatGPT does at that assignment. This once again represents an opportunity to hone your own skills, while also making the translation process move more quickly and efficiently.
People who need to know how to operate higher-level tasks can still use ChatGPT, even if they won’t be touching its AI-generated code in most cases.
Instead, what they can do is ask the AI to perform highly specific functions like simulations of terminals. That’s particularly useful when your Windows remote desktop doesn’t ordinarily have this capability, so you can still access all of the resources you need to test your code.
Additionally, when managing WordPress websites, tools like SafeUpdates can help ensure that your WordPress environment remains current and secure, allowing you to access all the necessary resources to test your code without interruption.
Simulating a Linux terminal
If you give it the right instructions, ChatGPT can simulate a Linux terminal and respond to your user input accordingly.
You can use this feature to test your code, or to run particular functions, even if you don’t normally have access to a device that runs on Linux. That’s highly useful in the age of remote working, when employees don’t always have access to their in-office supplies and tools.
To exit the simulation, you simply give the same instructions you’d give to a genuine Linux terminal. ChatGPT will then return to normal.
ChatGPT is a powerful tool that can fill many different niches, depending on the needs and experience level of each
programmer that uses it. From a coding assistant to a simulated terminal, it’s flexible enough to take on plenty of roles and perform them to a suitable standard.
This makes it a great idea to use ChatGPT for coding and programming.
Another point to note is that, being a piece of AI tech, ChatGPT is always growing and learning. What it can do now may be a small fraction of what it’s going to become capable of in a few years’ time. That’s why programmers should keep a close eye on the software and see what it evolves into.
Disclaimer: The author is completely responsible for the content of this article. The opinions expressed are their own and do not represent IEEE’s position nor that of the Computer Society nor its Leadership.