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AI Comes to Visual Studio via IntelliCode

Microsoft is bringing AI-assisted development to Visual Studio by way of Visual Studio IntelliCode, the company announced Monday at its 2018 Build conference.

The release -- which is still in preview and is available as a Visual Studio experimental extension in the Visual Studio Marketplace -- adds upon the company's IntelliSense functionality by pulling from the vast repository of Github code to make smarter suggestions using context-driven cues and also making sure suggestions are timely (vs. perhaps older logic of just being alphabetically ordered.)

"IntelliCode saves time by putting what you're most likely to use at the top of your completion list," the company commented. "IntelliCode's recommendations are based on 2,000 high-quality open source projects on Github -- each with over 100 stars -- so it's trained on best practices. When combined with the context of your code, the completion list is tailored to promote those practices."

According to Microsoft, with the AI-assisted context-awareness, it can also serve as a learning tool: "As you type, AI-assisted IntelliSense recommends the most likely API...This makes it easier to learn a new API and dramatically reduces the number of keystrokes required to complete a line. With more context from the code you write, IntelliSense becomes more accurate.

The company said that machine learning is also put to use to analyze source code to ID irregular patterns, missed refactorings, incorrect variable usage and more.

The brand-new technology preview from Microsoft DevLabs works only with Visual Studio 15.7 -- which itself came out of preview this week -- and for now works only with C#, though support for other languages is planned.

As the project is in an early experimental stage, Microsoft invited developers to sign up for news and updates on the project or go ahead and get started with the extension -- which was already downloaded more than 400 time shortly after being announced at the Build conference -- and provide feedback via its built-in Report a Problem option.

More hands-on info for IntelliCode is provided in this video.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.