iOS Dev Weekly - Issue 514

Do you want to pair program with a copilot? 🤖

iOS Dev Weekly

View on the Web    Archives

ISSUE 514  July 2nd 2021




It’s always a good signal to write about something when I get several emails saying “Have you seen this?” along with a link. I’ve received more of those emails this week about GitHub Copilot than for anything else I can remember recently.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you won’t be surprised to hear that I can see both the positive and negative sides of this technology. 😱

Before I start, It’s important to note that I don’t yet have access to Copilot. I signed up, but I’m still on the waiting list. Everything I write here comes from what I see on the marketing page. That’s not ideal, but it’s what I have!

The negative side of things is the obvious place to start. AI-produced code is going to be buggy, just as human-written code is buggy. However, Copilot doesn’t have the context of what you’re trying to achieve or why you’re trying to achieve it. It also doesn’t benefit from the clarifications and adjustments you naturally make as you progress through a problem.

Then, there’s a more subtle side of things. The consequences of AI making a wrong choice in a self-driving car are immediate and drastic. 💥 The results of a mistake in a generated function are neither and will be much easier to miss.

Since I haven’t had a chance to experience the product, part of my concern comes from how GitHub is marketing it. For example, I really couldn’t disagree more with this statement:

Whether you’re working in a new language or framework, or just learning to code, GitHub Copilot can help you find your way.

Surely learning a new language or framework is the last time you should use a tool like this. I think we can all agree that it’s good to understand the code you write, and without knowledge of the language or framework, you’ll miss plenty of mistakes. If GitHub can’t be sure that the code won’t contain biased, discriminatory, abusive, or offensive outputs or someone’s personal data, will it really be well written? To get sidetracked slightly, I also saw a few people ask good questions about whether any of the training data was GPL licensed, because that will be a problem. 😬

It’s surely also a terrible way to learn to code. The code produced by Copilot comes with no information on why the AI wrote what it did. Is GitHub genuinely thinking about this as a teaching tool? 🙄

I have to stop myself here, or my negative take will take you all day to read. It’s almost too easy to find problems with this product. Yet, when I think about it, I want to support what GitHub is doing here.

If not for experiments and research like this, how would we move software development forward? I’ll be surprised if Copilot ends up being more than a curiosity in its current form, but who knows if some of the ideas and techniques that come out of this project could lead to significant advances in the field?

Ironically, I’d be more excited about this if it did a little less! 😂 If Copilot generated one line at a time rather than whole blocks of code, it’d feel like enhanced code completion rather than code generation. The slower pace would mean you’d be reviewing a line at a time rather than a whole block. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem feasible given that the result of the AI seems to be full blocks of code. It’s maybe one way to think about how AI could make our lives as developers easier in the future, though.

Now, where’s the Copilot for writing newsletters? 🤔

Dave Verwer


  Sponsored Link  


Mac Remote Desktops from MacStadium & Teradici

MacStadium, the developer cloud for Mac, has partnered with the creator of PCoIP® technology, Teradici, to enable high-performance remote access for Mac use cases, including automating CI/CD pipelines, improving testing, and bringing Mac desktops to wherever they're needed. Launching later this summer, sign up now to get release updates.





Is there anyone reading who hasn't dealt with a merge conflict in an Xcode project file? Even if you work alone, you'll inevitably need to merge one as soon as you have two branches on the go. Wouldn't it be great if you didn't have to worry about all but the messiest and most complex ones? Enter this tool from Ben Yohay! The goal of the project is to cope with 99.9% of conflicts automatically. I'm not sure how close they are, but it's certainly going to be better than not having the tool!


Apple's DocC is excellent, but unusable for open source projects

Jesse Squires with a rather pessimistic view of Apple's new DocC documentation tool. He makes some good points, and he's right that it's pretty apparent Apple created this tool for themselves first and the community second. However, instead of looking at it as something that missed the mark. I think it's better to look at it as a promising start. I hope Apple isn't finished developing this tool, and as Jesse added in an update, there are options to build better processors for DocC output. In fact, immediately before publishing this issue, I noticed Helge Heß published a set of three new packages that look interesting. 🤔

Also, as Sven said on Twitter, helping to host open-source package documentation was already on our Swift Package Index radar. CocoaDocs was a fantastic resource, and expanding into that area would fit nicely alongside what we've already built.




Advanced SwiftUI Animations with TimelineView

As soon as I saw Canvas and TimelineView in SwiftUI, I knew I would be reading Javier Nigro's thoughts on them at some point! Sure enough, the first topic he has picked to write about is animations with TimelineView, and the post is just as good as you'd expect. 🚀


How Swift runs an async executable

What happens if you write a command-line Swift tool and call an async function in it? If you'd have asked me to guess, I'd say it'd quit and never complete the task. Am I right? Ole Begemann has investigated.


Mastering search in SwiftUI

If you've ever implemented search UI using UISearchController, you may not have the fondest memories of it. So when SwiftUI made significant improvements to creating searchable content this year, I was intrigued to see what they had implemented! Majid Jabrayilov has some good coverage of what's new and how to use it.


  Business and Marketing  


The Droid (Stats) You're Looking For

Curtis Herbert posted this the day before WWDC started, and while I wanted to link to it, that's terrible timing! If you write an iOS-only app, it's so easy to dismiss the idea of creating an Android version for so many reasons. So when someone with a well-established app on iOS goes through the process and then publishes numbers about how it went, that's worth a read, so I'm glad I kept it in my queue.


  And finally...  


I 😍 this attention to detail.

You received this email because you subscribed via the iOS Dev Weekly site.
We'll be sorry to see you go but you can unsubscribe instantly.
Shiny Development Ltd. Daresbury Innovation Centre Keckwick Lane Daresbury Cheshire WA4 4FS United Kingdom

©2021 iOS Dev Weekly | Privacy Policy | Twitter | Suggest a Link
Published with Curated

Older messages

iOS Dev Weekly - Issue 513

Friday, June 25, 2021

I may be out of things to say, but there's still plenty of links! 👀 View on the Web Archives ISSUE 513 June 25th 2021 Comment Sometimes I sit down to write my comment for this newsletter, and there

iOS Dev Weekly - Issue 512

Friday, June 18, 2021

A truly amazing feature of Xcode, that I might never use… 😰 View on the Web Archives ISSUE 512 June 18th 2021 Comment I didn't know quite how to feel as I watched Kieran Senior talk about reviewing

iOS Dev Weekly - Issue 511

Friday, June 11, 2021

Did you have a good WWDC? Mine was a bit special! 😍 View on the Web Archives ISSUE 511 June 11th 2021 Comment I didn't think I'd ever get to see anything I had worked on in a WWDC session

iOS Dev Weekly - Issue 510

Friday, June 4, 2021

Dub Dub Dub Dub Dub Dub Dub Dub! 😍🎉🚀 View on the Web Archives ISSUE 510 June 4th 2021 Comment It's almost WWDC time! 🚀😍🎉 Looking around Twitter and the web this week, I see two very different

iOS Dev Weekly - Issue 509

Friday, May 28, 2021

The constant ebb and flow of complexity in software development. 🌊 View on the Web Archives ISSUE 509 May 28th 2021 Comment I still (just about! 👴) remember the first time I came across asynchronous

Kotlin Weekly #261

Sunday, August 1, 2021

ISSUE #261 1st of August 2021 Hi Kotliners. Jetpack Compose 1.0.0 is out there, and we have already seen a boom in content just after a few days. Expect more Compose in the near future - and if you

[Sublime + Python Setup] The Ctrl+s "Heisenbug"

Sunday, August 1, 2021

"What the **** is going on?!" I heard Keith yell. Returning from my lunch break and in a helpful mood I grabbed my coffee mug and shuffled over to my coworker's desk. "What's

[PythonistaCafe] Why PythonistaCafe exists

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Hey there, In one of my last emails I talked about how some online communities in the tech space devolve over time and turn into cesspools of negativity. This relates directly to how and why I started

Show HN: – read-only Wikipedia using a 43GB SQLite file — and Hosting SQLite Databases on GitHub Pages

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Issue #481 — Top 20 stories of August 01, 2021 Issue #481 — August 01, 2021 You receive this email because you are subscribed to Hacker News Digest. You can open it in the browser if you prefer. 1 Show

Weekend Reading — Working with real data

Saturday, July 31, 2021

This week we Kanban our job search, change our strategy vision to fix a bug, ride the bike, and mind the duck! Weekend Reading — Working with real data By Assaf Arkin – 31 Jul 2021 – View online → 🪑

Charted | 1.6 Billion Disposable Masks Entered Our Oceans in 2020 😷

Saturday, July 31, 2021

The entire world has relied on disposable face masks to contain the spread of COVID-19, but over a billion of them are now in our oceans. FEATURED STORY 1.6 Billion Disposable Masks Entered Our Oceans

Daily Coding Problem: Problem #481 [Hard]

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Daily Coding Problem Good morning! Here's a solution to yesterday's problem. This is your coding interview problem for today. This problem was asked by Jane Street. Given an arithmetic

Week in Review - The metaverse reversal

Saturday, July 31, 2021

TechCrunch Newsletter TechCrunch logo Week in Review logo Saturday, July 31, 2021 • By Lucas Matney Hello friends, and welcome back to Week in Review! Last week, I talked about the specter of an “eco-

Startups Weekly - Unicorns are ready for a haircut

Saturday, July 31, 2021

TechCrunch Newsletter TechCrunch logo Startups Weekly logo Saturday, July 31, 2021 • By Natasha Mascarenhas The digitization of your haircut may not have been on your 2020 bucket list, but 2021 has an

[Sublime + Python Setup] How to become a happier & more productive Python dev

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Hey there, I really struggled with setting up an effective development environment as a new Python developer. It was difficult to build the right habits and to find a set of tools I enjoyed to use.