Private Preview of GitHub Copilot Extensions Customizes AI Coding Assistance

GitHub introduced Copilot Extensions, providing customized AI assistance by integrating tools from partners like DataStax, Docker and Microsoft Azure directly into the Copilot interface.

Announced as a private preview during Microsoft Build 2024, the extensions work with GitHub Copilot Chat, the AI-powered pair programming tool that leverages natural language processing. They work in, the Visual Studio IDE and Visual Studio Code, where developers can access various services, perform actions and generate files without leaving those dev environments. GitHub said they streamline workflows, reduce context-switching and support natural language interactions, enabling seamless debugging, deployment and database management. Organizations can also create private extensions for internal tools, further customizing their development environments.

GitHub Copilot Extensions
[Click on image for larger view.] GitHub Copilot Extensions (source: GitHub).

The preview includes extensions from more than a dozen partners, with more to come.

Marketplace App Tiles
[Click on image for larger view.] Marketplace App Tiles (source: Microsoft).

"Imagine you're a developer who just got paged on an incident for a database-related error," GitHub said in explaining how the tools work in a May 21 blog post. "You're trying to get context of the issue from a variety of tools. It could be from a GitHub issue or audit logs in DataStax. With enough context, you start troubleshooting what could be the cause, going to tools like Sentry for error monitoring to learn more. Then, you have to figure out a solution, apply the fix, and then deploy with Azure. In this scenario, there is a lot of context-switching.

"Copilot Extensions bring this whole process together. From GitHub Copilot Chat, you can now easily invoke all of these tools to get context, perform actions and generate files and pull requests -- accelerating workflows across more tools."

GitHub said the initial raft of extensions will be supplemented by more partners and services to come.

Some examples include:

  • DataStax: Developers can interact with databases and build applications with AstraDB.
  • Octopus Deploy: Developers can view the status of deployments.
  • Sentry: Developers can resolve pipeline issues in natural language.

A Microsoft-built Azure-bespoke extension is also available, providing guidance on the cloud platform's services, React app development and database selection.

"Microsoft's extension, GitHub Copilot for Azure, showcases just how much GitHub Copilot can push development velocity with natural language," the announcement said. "By calling on GitHub Copilot for Azure right in Copilot Chat, developers get answers to their questions about Azure -- anything from choosing an Azure service to running a React app to selecting the best Azure database to use with Django. And, when it's time to deploy, GitHub Copilot for Azure guides developers through the steps for a successful launch."

Developers can sign up here for access to the Azure extension.

"Today's announcement is a sneak peek of what's to come," GitHub said. "Once invited, users can access Copilot Extensions from DataStax, Docker, Lambda Test, LaunchDarkly, McKinsey & Company, Octopus Deploy, Pangea, Pinecone, Product Science, ReadMe, Sentry, and Teams Toolkit on the GitHub Marketplace. In the coming weeks, all users will be able to access extensions from Stripe, MongoDB, and Microsoft (including Teams Toolkit and Microsoft 365) on Visual Studio Marketplace for VSCode as well."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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