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ChatGPT Prompt Engineering for developers

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In today’s rapidly evolving tech landscape, developers and code enthusiasts are continually seeking ways to optimize their workflow and achieve greater efficiency. There is one thing you need to seriously pay attention to miss if you’re an active programmer or a hobbyist interested in coding: using ChatGPT to help you with your tasks. Not only is it that ChatGPT can produce code, but it can also debug it, give feedback, and help you learn to code.

In this article, we will dive into how ChatGPT is making Prompt Engineering for developers increasingly popular because of its ability to optimize productivity and facilitate learning. We will talk about the most common programming languages that prompt engineering is being used for and give some tips and tricks that can be used use with most languages.

Learning to code without Prompt Engineering

First, ChatGPT can be an amazing study buddy. It can help you generate summaries, create questions to test your knowledge, help you understand concepts by explaining them differently, or even by interpreting and explaining code. In this screenshot, taken after I pasted some Python code as a prompt, you can see how you can use ChatGPT to learn: 

screenshot of chatgpt response

Using ChatGPT as a real-world developer

“Developers are reporting that ChatGPT helps do about 75 percent of their work. They can then focus on more complex parts of the coding work and review what the AI has done before going to production” Source: ChatGPT for dummies by Pam Baker 

Even if you are a professional developer, you can still use ChatGPT to take a look at your code. Let’s see if ChatGPT can find the mistake I left in this Python code: 

def factorial(n):    if n == 0:        return 1    else:        return n * factorial(n – 1)
number = 5print(“The factorial of”, number, “is”, factorial(number))print(“This program calculates factorials.”)

Okay, ChatGPT found the mistake, but let’s be honest, there’s tools that can also do this nowadays, so it’s not that incredible. Let’s see if ChatGPT can help in other ways. Can ChatGPT create a working app? Let’s try creating a Chrome extension that helps saving webpages and sorting them. ChatGPT is pretty clear from the start: it can help, but it’s up to you to supervise the creation of this extension. However, ChatGPT provided useful insights:


ChatGPT continued to provide code to guide us, then explained the steps to take:


While ChatGPT didn’t provide us with a final product, it helped us enough to understand what to do. 

Another thing that ChatGPT can help you do is write comments and documentation for your code. Imagine you want to share your code with someone who has less knowledge than you, ChatGPT can help you by adding comments or documentation to help. It saves you time! Imagine this in a work environment, you’d rather leave a junior developer with comments and notes instead of spending an hour sitting next to them to explain the code.

A useful thing that ChatGPT can also do for you is to help you reorganize your code. Explain to ChatGPT what your code is for and what your goal is (it can be different based on the language or end goal: have a shorter/more efficient code, have a code consuming less power to run, have a code that is more compatible with a specific OS, etc). Once you explain your code and end goal, ask ChatGPT for suggestions and adapt your code accordingly.

The pros of using ChatGPT for coding

Quick problem solving:

Using ChatGPT reduces the need to go bother a colleague, search forums, ask a question in GitHub, and other time consuming research tasks.

Exploring ideas

ChatGPT might suggest ways to code and coding languages to use that you may not have considered. 

Quick explanations

ChatGPT can interpret the code and help you understand what it’s made for.

ChatGPT knows many coding languages: It can help you on more specific languages that may not have a large community of developers like HTML or Python.

ChatGPT can help at any level

Whether you’re just curious about code or a senior developer, ChatGPT is there for you.

Availability

ChatGPT is online 24/7, the humans helping you in forums or at work are not.

So, if ChatGPT is that amazing, will it take the job of human developers?

Let’s ask ChatGPT, and then analyze the reply. ChatGPT is very honest and replied the following: 

“While I’m capable of performing various coding tasks and providing assistance, I’m not a replacement for human developers” and ChatGPT pointed out some important reasons:

  • Lack of contextual understanding
  • Limited creativity
  • Inconsistent quality and need for fact checking
  • Limited expertise
  • Inability to replicate the dynamics of a team of human developers
  • Lack of human judgment and empathy needed to make ethical and moral decisions.

No need to interview a developer to see that ChatGPT is very self-aware and brings out excellent points, and some of those points can be applied to other jobs as well.

Why developers should learn Prompt Engineering 

Prompt Engineering is the art of saving time, tokens, and getting the output desired by writing the right prompt on the first try. It should be a no-brainer why anyone using ChatGPT should learn it. While the roots of prompt engineering are in natural language processing, its principles can be valuable to developers. Here’s why:

  • Learning Prompt Engineering will help you if you plan to switch careers and work in AI development.
  • Quality output: Well-designed prompts lead to more accurate and contextually relevant responses from language models. 
  • Automated task execution: If your application involves automating tasks using language models, prompt engineering ensures quicker and more accurate outcomes.
  • Saving even more time on comments and documentation
  • Task decomposition: Like crafting prompts for specific tasks, breaking down complex programming challenges into smaller, manageable subtasks is essential. 
  • Choosing the right tools: Just as prompt engineering involves choosing the right phrasing, developers should choose the appropriate programming languages, frameworks, and libraries that best suit the project’s requirements. 

The future of ChatGPT for developers

As always, it’s tough to predict the future, but based on what we know so far, here’s what could happen:

  • OpenAI could partner up with other companies to work towards creating software and learning tools that have ChatGPT integrated in them.
  • OpenAI could release a “coding” version of ChatGPT, some sort of advanced version of ChatGPT tailored for coding.
  • Due to privacy concerns or new AI laws, it could be decided that letting AI access company/individual programming data is not safe. It is also possible to host an AI locally, so that could be an alternative solution.

Most developers are actually extremely happy that ChatGPT can save them time (well, pretty much everyone is happy about saving time, in any type of job), and of course, we will need developers to build an AI that will be able to help developers even more. So we will need more programmers and developers in the future, and guiding today’s generation to learn and love coding is a step towards progress.

Can AI improve itself by improving its own code?

ChatGPT and OpenAI creations in general are quite impressive, but can they write code to improve themselves? Are we a step closer to the technological singularity?

So far, it seems that ChatGPT cannot decide on goals and tasks for itself like AutoGPT can do. But yes, if we talk about AI in general, it’s happening. AutoGPT and GoalGPT are already capable of setting goals and tasks for themselves and function autonomously. It’s not like it’s a rogue AI working on taking over humanity though, it still needs an initial human command to start, but it’s way more independent.

This is pretty impressive already, and yet it’s just the beginning.

Prompt ideas to code with ChatGPT

“Write code in (format, language) for a (purpose/final product)”

“I will paste you some code in (language) and I need your help to improve it and find any errors. This is the code: (insert your code)”

“I would like to create (final product/service), what is the best coding language for this?”

“I need you to generate quiz questions to make sure I studied properly, here is the raw theory that I’m supposed to know (insert text). Generate (number) questions in (question format). Remove questions I already asked correctly. Rephrasing is allowed”

Developers and coding enthusiasts are always striving for better ways to work efficiently. ChatGPT has emerged as a game-changer, offering assistance in code creation, debugging, feedback, and learning. 

The advantages of ChatGPT for coding cannot be ignored. However, it’s crucial to remember ChatGPT’s limits. It’s a tool, not a replacement for human developers. It’s a tool that empowers coding and learning, showcasing the potential of AI and humans working together.

Additional resources:

openai.com/blog/openai-codex

github.com/features/preview/copilot-x

deeplearning.ai/short-courses/chatgpt-prompt-engineering-for-developers/



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