Using ChatGPT for code writing

Using ChatGPT for code writing

Using ChatGPT to Write Code: An Adventure in Automation


Have you ever wondered if an AI language model like ChatGPT can write code? It seems like an unlikely pairing, but the results might surprise you. In a test, I asked ChatGPT to write a simple WordPress plugin, and to my amazement, it did an excellent job. But as I delved deeper into its capabilities, I discovered that coding with ChatGPT is both an adventure and a cautionary tale.

The Two Sides of ChatGPT and Coding

There are two important things you should know about ChatGPT and coding. First, it can indeed write useful code. Second, it also has a tendency to produce incomprehensible gibberish. This revelation came to me when I ambitiously asked ChatGPT to create a Mac application. Despite my careful prompt, ChatGPT’s response consisted of an endless stream of code and text, none of which was usable. It failed to identify where the code belonged or how to construct the project properly. This experience taught me an important lesson: if you want ChatGPT to build something for you, it will most likely fail.

But here’s the good news: ChatGPT can be a valuable tool for experienced programmers. It excels in helping you build specific routines and accomplish specific coding tasks. For example, if you need help putting a menu on the menu bar, ChatGPT can provide you with a routine that you can easily integrate into your project. It’s not about expecting ChatGPT to create an entire application; rather, it’s about leveraging its abilities to simplify and automate certain aspects of your coding practice.

How ChatGPT Can Help You Write Code

Now that we understand the potential and limitations of ChatGPT when it comes to coding, let’s explore some practical steps on how to use it effectively.

1. Narrow down and sharpen your request

Before you ask anything of ChatGPT, take the time to clarify and refine your request. Just like you would with a human programmer, provide sufficient information about what you want to achieve, the desired function or routine, and the inputs and outputs involved. Avoid being too vague or ambiguous, as it may result in unexpected or unrelated code. Clear communication is key, even with AI.

2. Use ChatGPT to explore libraries and resources

ChatGPT can be a valuable resource when it comes to finding libraries and resources for your coding project. Instead of manually searching for AI libraries like Sumy, Gensim, or NLTK, engage in a conversation with ChatGPT to discover which ones are suitable for your needs. For example, you can ask ChatGPT to describe different open-source AI libraries and their compatibility with various programming languages. This interaction provides you with valuable insights and saves you time.

3. Ask ChatGPT to write example code

While ChatGPT cannot produce the final code for your project, it can generate example code that serves as a starting point. When using ChatGPT, think of it as a code-writing assistant rather than a code-writing replacement. Give it a clear prompt with specific instructions and constraints. For instance, you can ask ChatGPT to write a PHP function called summarize_article that retrieves the contents of a web page and generates a summary.

Remember, the example code generated by ChatGPT is not the end product; it requires your expertise to fine-tune, integrate, test, and debug. It’s important to approach the code generated by ChatGPT critically and never blindly trust it without verification.

FAQs about ChatGPT and Coding

Q: Does ChatGPT replace programmers?

No, ChatGPT doesn’t replace programmers. While it can write code at the level of a talented first-year programming student, it lacks the ability to maintain or modify existing code. ChatGPT is a helpful tool for entry-level programmers and experienced coders alike, streamlining the coding process and providing information. However, it cannot handle complex coding projects independently.

Q: How reliable is ChatGPT for coding? Can I trust the code it generates?

ChatGPT is not infallible. Just like human programmers, it can produce flawed code with bugs. Always test, refine, and verify the code generated by ChatGPT before integrating it into your project. While the code may serve as a useful starting point, it’s essential to maintain an iterative development process and perform thorough testing to ensure its reliability.

Q: If I use ChatGPT to write my code, who owns it?

The ownership of code generated by ChatGPT is still a complex legal issue. However, based on current copyright laws in the US, Canada, and the UK, code created entirely by AI may not be eligible for copyright protection. There are also liability concerns related to the origin of training code and the usage of the resulting code. If you’re using AI-generated code, it’s advisable to consult legal experts and consider the specific circumstances to determine ownership and liability.

Q: What programming languages does ChatGPT know?

ChatGPT has knowledge of a wide range of programming languages, from common modern languages like Python and Java to obscure languages like COBOL and FORTRAN. During tests, ChatGPT demonstrated proficiency in different languages and even provided instructions for programming on legacy systems like the PDP 8/e. However, it’s important to note that ChatGPT’s expertise in specific languages may vary, so it’s always advisable to verify its suggestions and consult additional resources if needed.

In conclusion, ChatGPT offers a promising avenue for coding assistance and automation. While it has limitations and can produce unpredictable results, it can still be a valuable tool for programmers. By providing clear instructions and exercising critical judgment, you can leverage ChatGPT’s capabilities to enhance your coding practice and streamline your development process. Embrace the adventure, but remember to be cautious and vigilant throughout your coding journey.

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