GitHub Rolls Out Upgrades for Copilot and Others at GitHub Universe

GitHub, the popular, Microsoft-owned code-hosting and collaboration service, made some big product announcements at its annual GitHub Universe developer conference, underway this week in San Francisco, including among others, expanded access for business users of its Copilot AI-pair programming tool, universal access to Codespaces, and a new funding program for open-source creators.

The loudest buzz was around the Copilot expansion, which the company calls "Copilot for Business." Copilot has been available to individuals since of June 2022. Now GitHub is set to bring its AI-pair programmer to businesses "to take advantage of its proven impact on developer productivity and happiness," the company said in a statement.

Copilot, which installs as an extension in a range of IDEs (e.g., Visual Studio, VS Code, Neovim, and JetBrains), uses OpenAI's Codex, a system that translates natural language into code, to suggest code and entire functions in real time, directly from the editor. Codex is based on OpenAI's GPT-3 language model. Enterprises will soon be able to purchase and manage seat licenses for GitHub Copilot for their employees.

This increased accessibility of the service for businesses was designed, the company said in a statement, "to accelerate GitHub's push into major enterprises and provide the best development experience."

"AI will soon be integrated into every aspect of the developer experience," GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke wrote in a blog post, "and, therefore, we're making GitHub Copilot even more accessible."

GitHub also announced a technical preview of "Hey, GitHub!" an experimental voice-based interaction system for Copilot. Developed by GitHub Next, the company's research division, "Hey, GitHub!” will allow programmers to code with voice commands, similar to the way users interact with Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant. The aim of this feature is to make Copilot accessible to developers who may not be able to use a keyboard everyday through voice-based interaction.

With its GitHub Accelerator Program, the company will be providing 20 open-source developers with "substantial" funding ($2,000 a week for 10 weeks), as well as marketing and mentorship, "helping them turn their passion projects into full time jobs," the company said. The source of the funding will be the GitHub Fund. A dedicated $10M seed fund, backed by M12, will support the projects at their earliest stages of incorporation.

The company also announced that GitHub Codespaces, its cloud-hosted development environment, is now generally available to all GitHub users. Codespaces is a service that provides developers with on-demand access to a secure development environment running a given codebase (Git repository) on a remote server. The use of Codespaces is free to individuals for up to 60 hours a month, and for organizations it's available on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Code Search and Review just got "the biggest redesign in seven years," the company said.  The new features were designed to allow developers to transform the way they navigate on GitHub including:

  • New search engine that can access the world's code in less than one second
  • New search interface
  • Powerful queries with suggestions completions and the ability to filter results
  • Redesigned code view that integrates search browsing and code navigation

The list of product news coming out of GitHub Universe also includes:

  • New roadmap: The company plans to release a roadmap that will provide a "full picture" of what’s being worked on, what’s next, and how those items "span across time."
  • Task lists: A task list is a set of tasks that each render on a separate line with a clickable checkbox. You can select or deselect the checkboxes to mark the tasks as complete or incomplete. This feature will provide support for complex hierarchies.
  • New private vulnerability reporting: "Today vulnerabilities are reported to maintainers through various and sometimes unsafe channels," the company explains. "This public exposure leaves maintainers with no time to fix the issue before bad actors have a chance to hear about it. Private vulnerability reporting provides researchers with a standardized, convenient, and secret way to report vulnerabilities in open-source repositories. (Now available in public beta.)
  • GitHub Server Enterprise 3.7: The latest version adds 70+ features, such as a Security Overview dashboard, support for reusable Actions workflows, and fundamental security enhancements to the management console.
  • Updates to GitHub Actions: With over 10M builds a day on GitHub Actions, developers can now take advantage of larger hosted runners to support bigger codebases and workflows. GitHub Actions Importer is also available to GitHub Enterprise customers looking to migrate from their former automation tool to GitHub Actions to get up and running faster.

The company has also published its 10th annual State of the Octoverse report, which explores the scale and growth of software development across GitHub, and how people, communities, organizations, and companies collaborate and invest in open-source software.

GitHub made news recently when it hit $1B in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) and reported 94 million developers on its platform—that number includes more than 20 million new users accounted for in 2022 and usage by 90% of the Fortune 100.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].