Robert Johns | 04 Dec, 2023

7 Best AI Coding Assistants In 2024 [Free + Paid]

In this article, we share the 7 best AI coding assistants in 2024. Whether you’re a student, a beginner developer, or an experienced pro, we’ve included AI coding assistants to help developers at all skill levels, including free and paid options.

But what is an AI coding assistant, and why should you use one? Great questions!

Before we cover the 7 best AI coding assistants, we’ll tackle these questions in more detail, including a breakdown of the benefits of AI coding assistants for students, beginner developers, and experienced pros.

Let’s dive in!

Featured AI Coding Assistants [Editor's Picks]
Best Newcomer Best Overall Best for Data Privacy
Amazon CodeWhisperer GitHub Copilot Tabnine

What Are AI Coding Assistants?

2024 continues to be the year of AI, with 77% of developers in favor of AI tools and around 44% already using AI tools in their daily routines.

But what is an AI coding assistant? In the simplest terms, an AI coding assistant is an AI-powered tool designed to help you write, review, debug, and optimize code.

I guess the clue is in the name here, as it’s literally an AI tool with the sole purpose of assisting you with your dev duties.

These AI tools have become increasingly popular thanks to the huge rise in machine learning, large language models, and natural language processing (NLP).

So whether you’re just starting out or an experienced pro with years of experience, chances are you’ve heard about AI coding assistants. 

AI coding assistants are also a subset of the broader category of AI development tools, which might include tools that specialize in testing and documentation. For this article, we’ll be focusing on AI assistants that cover a wider range of activities.

That said, let’s take a look at some of the main features and capabilities of AI coding assistants:

  • Code Suggestions: This is a lot like auto-complete in any modern IDE, but the main difference is that an AI coding assistant can predict and suggest the next line of code or offer code completions based on the context of what's already written. 

  • Code Reviews: These AI tools are super helpful for assisting in code reviews, as they can spot potential issues, bugs, or deviations from best practices, not to mention the fact that they can suggest improvements or fixes. No more searching for those tricky-to-find Python mistakes

  • Bug Detection: Even the best and most experienced developers can add bugs to their code, which is why these tools are great for spotting subtle bugs or issues in code that might be overlooked during manual reviews.

  • Code Optimization: AI coding assistants can offer suggestions for optimizing a particular code snippet for better performance or memory usage. This is great if you want to optimize for Big-O performance.

  • Refactoring: Another helpful feature is the ability to get suggestions or even direct help with refactoring tasks to improve your code’s maintainability and structure.

  • Natural Language Queries: With this feature, you can ask the AI tool how to implement a particular feature, and it will generate code snippets or explanations in response. This is a lot like asking for development help from ChatGPT or another large language model. 

  • Documentation Assistance: AI coding assistants are handy for generating or updating code documentation, which is great if you want to ensure your comments and external docs stay current after making changes.

  • Learning and Tutorials: If you’re new to coding and development, these AI tools can personalize your learning experience by guiding you through your coding tasks with real-time feedback. This is like turning your AI assistant into a personal coding tutor.

  • Integration with Development Environments: Whether you’re using one of the best Python IDEs or a general-purpose code editor like VSCode, most AI coding assistants have been designed to integrate directly to offer a seamless dev workflow.

One important point about these tools is that many AI coding assistants are trained on other people’s code. Which, as you’ve likely guessed, can be a good and a bad thing.

One downside to this approach is the possibility that the AI will pick up on bad habits or inaccuracies from its training data. Also, there’s a small chance that code suggestions provided by the AI will closely resemble someone else’s work.

So, while there’s no denying the utility and usefulness of these AI tools, it helps to bear this in mind when using AI coding assistants as part of your development workflow.

Why Should You Use An AI Coding Assistant?

AI coding assistants can be helpful for all developers, regardless of their experience or skill level. But in our opinion, your experience level will affect how and why you should use an AI assistant.

We also think it’s important to mention that AI coding tools should complement, not replace, traditional learning and coding practices. The tool’s job is to help you, not do the work for you.

That said, let’s tackle this question for a few common use cases, namely students, beginner developers, and professional developers:

Students: Whether you’re in high school or college, or perhaps you have a child you want to teach to code, AI coding assistants can be super helpful for students:

  • Accelerated Learning: Students can get instant feedback and suggestions, allowing them to correct mistakes and learn best practices faster.

  • Homework & Project Assistance: If you have a challenging assignment or coding challenges, AI coding assistants can offer guidance to make sure you don't get stuck for an extended period of time.

  • Concept Clarification: Students can ask the AI to explain how specific coding constructs work, ideal for bridging the gap between theory and practice.

  • Building Confidence: Positive reinforcement and corrections from an AI assistant can be great for helping students feel more confident about coding.

Beginner Developers: Perhaps you’re just starting out in a junior developer role after taking a Python course, or maybe you’ve only been coding for a short period of time, in that case, an AI coding assistant can be a really helpful AI-powered mentor as you build your experience:

  • Code Quality: Beginners might not be familiar with best practices, and AI assistants can help guide them to writing cleaner, more efficient, and maintainable code.

  • Productivity Boost: Rather than heading over to Google or Stack Overflow to find help, you can ask AI coding assistants directly for help implementing specific functions or features.

  • Familiarity with Multiple Languages: Most AI coding assistants support multiple programming languages, which is great for helping beginner developers learn additional languages to broaden their skill set.

Professional Developers: If you’ve been coding for a while and class yourself as a professional developer, you might be unsure whether to use an AI assistant. And with the ongoing debate of whether AI will replace developers, perhaps you’re on the fence.

Trust me, we hear you! In our opinion, AI tools will not replace programmers, but they will continue to be some of the most important technologies for developers to work in harmony with.

Plus, the general democratization of AI will mean that programmers will benefit from staying at the forefront of emerging technologies like AI coding assistants as they try to remain competitive.

So while there are pros and cons to these tools, there are compelling reasons to add them to your workflow. We like to think of these tools as AI-powered interns that can help us do our jobs more efficiently while saving us brain space to tackle interesting tasks:

  • Speed and Efficiency: Professionals can code faster with real-time suggestions, especially when working in unfamiliar domains or using new libraries.

  • Code Review: AI assistants can offer a first pass during code reviews, highlighting potential issues or suggesting improvements.

  • Bug Detection: Even seasoned developers make mistakes. and AI coding assistants can quickly identify common and uncommon bugs or vulnerabilities.

  • Reduced Boilerplate: For repetitive or standard tasks, AI tools can generate boilerplate code that allows pros to focus on more complex and unique challenges.

  • Refactoring Assistance: AI tools can be really helpful for suggesting refactoring opportunities that will improve your code’s maintainability.

  • Up-to-date Best Practices: An AI coding assistant can help professionals stay current as best practices evolve.

 

How To Choose The Best AI Coding Assistant?

AI coding assistants are one of the newest types of tools for developers, which is why there are fresh tools being released all the time. 

This can make it tricky to choose the best AI coding assistant, which is why we’ve written this article! 

To help us find the best AI coding assistants, we’ve considered the following criteria, which you can also use when weighing up your options: 

  • Language and Framework Support: We looked for AI coding assistants that support the most popular programming languages and frameworks.

  • IDE support: We looked for tools that integrate seamlessly with the most popular IDEs and code editors, whether via plugins or extensions.

  • Accuracy: We looked for AI assistants who provide accurate code suggestions and responses.

  • Performance: We emphasized tools that were fast and responsive - nobody wants a  tool that makes your coding environment sluggish!

  • Documentation & Support: We looked for tools with robust documentation and an active user or developer community.

  • Cost: We looked for AI coding assistants that offer free and paid tiers.

  • Security and Privacy: Depending on your role, you might be working with sensitive code or proprietary algorithms, so we looked for AI coding assistants with transparent security and privacy policies.

Best AI Coding Assistants In 2024

1. GitHub Copilot

GitHub Copilot

Key Information

Languages supported: All languages that feature in GitHub public repos.

IDEs supported: Visual Studio Code, Visual Studio, Vim, Neovim, JetBrains IDEs ((IntelliJ IDEA, PyCharm), and Azure Data Studio

Free or Paid: Free for students or Paid versions for personal & business

Why We Like This AI Coding Assistant:

As a collaboration between GitHub, OpenAI, and Microsoft, Copilot is the most popular AI coding assistant available in 2024, with free, personal and business plans. Plus, this popularity also means a lot of community support

With features like code suggestions, auto-completion, documentation insight, and support for multiple languages, Copilot offers everything you’d expect from an AI coding assistant.

When learning how to use Copilot, you have the option of writing code to get suggestions or writing natural language comments that describe what you’d like your code to do. There’s even a Chat beta feature that allows you to interact directly with Copilot.

Given its popularity, it also offers integration with various popular IDEs and code editors via plugins for Visual Studio Code, Visual Studio, JetBrains IDE suite, Vim, and more (notice that Microsoft tools feature a lot!).

One of the most interesting things about Copilot is that it’s been trained on public GitHub repositories. This can be a double-edged sword, as shown by GitHub stats that indicate only 26% of Copilot's suggestions were accepted.

The crux is that newer or more niche languages suffer from a lack of public code examples. For example, if you’re working on a Python project, you’ll probably get better suggestions than with Fortran, as this features much less on GitHub (no disrespect to Fortran; it’s an OG language!).

Finally, Copilot also offers data privacy and encryption, which means your code won't be shared with other Copilot users. However, if you’re hyper-security conscious, you should know that GitHub and Microsoft personnel can access data. 

2. Amazon CodeWhisperer

Amazon CodeWhisperer

Key Information

Languages supported: Python, Java, JavaScript, TypeScript, C#, Go, Rust, PHP, Ruby, Kotlin, C, C++, Shell, SQL, and Scala.

IDEs supported: JetBrains IDEs (IntelliJ IDEA, PyCharm), Visual Studio Code, AWS Cloud9, AWS Lambda console, JupyterLab and Amazon SageMaker Studio.

Free or Paid: Free for Individual Tier or Paid Professional Tier

Why We Like This AI Coding Assistant:

As one of the newest AI coding assistants, Amazon CodeWhisperer is one of the most desired AI tools among developers during the latest Stack Overflow developer survey. 

Trained on billions of lines from public code repositories, including from Amazon, CodeWhisper can propose entire functions or logical blocks that match your coding style and conventions. It also offers comment completions to speed up documentation. Overall, it’s a pretty cool service and definitely a worthy contender for GitHub Copilot.

At its core, CodeWhisperer aims to provide real-time code suggestions to offer an AI pair programming experience while improving your productivity. We also appreciate the built-in security feature, which scans your code for vulnerabilities.

Other plus points of CodeWhisper include support for popular languages like Python, Java, JavaScript, and others. There’s also integration with popular IDEs, including PyCharm and the JetBrains suite, Visual Studio Code, AWS Cloud9, and more.

And, being an Amazon product, it’s optimized for AWS, including code suggestions for AWS APIs that align with AWS best practices. We also like the reference tracker that flags code suggestions that resemble open-source training data. This is great for avoiding code plagiarism. 

Plus, fresh off the latest AWS re:Invent conference, Amazon also announced their generative AI and LLM product, Amazon Q. This is a lot like a ChatGPT for AWS users, which is cool in itself, but it's also going to be integrated with CodeWhisperer to provide an interactive chat interface.

Regarding privacy, the professional version doesn't use or store content to train its AI model, while the individual version might use user content, such as code snippets, to enhance suggestions. That said, you can adjust data storage and telemetry sharing settings.

3. Tabnine

Tabnine

Key Information

Languages supported: C++, C#, HTML/CSS, Go, Java, Javascript, TypeScript, NodeJS, PHP, Python, React, and more.

IDEs supported: Visual Studio, VSCode, JetBrains IDEs (IntelliJ, Pycharm, etc.), Sublime, Jupyter Notebook, and more.

Free or Paid: Free for Starter, Paid for Pro & Enterprise

Why We Like This AI Coding Assistant:

Another popular AI assistant that’s been around for a while is Tabnine. Trusted by over a million developers worldwide in over 25 programming languages, one of its stand-out features is that the AI model has been trained with open-source repositories with permissive licenses. 

Not sure what this means? The TL-DR is that you get reliable suggestions without copyright issues. We really appreciate this strict approach to training, as while it restricts the volume of data they use, it speaks volumes about their commitment to being a good open-source citizen

Regarding key features, Tabnine promises to generate close to 30% of your code to speed up development while reducing errors. Plus, it easily integrates into various popular IDEs, all while ensuring your code is sacrosanct, which means it's never stored or shared.

You also get contextual code suggestions that aim to match the unique characteristics of your codebase’s style. And, if you have an Enterprise plan, you can use Tabnine Chat for a ChatGPT-like experience for code generation documentation, refactoring, and testing.

4. Codeium

Codeium

Key Information

Languages supported: C++, C#, CSS, Go, HTML, Java, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, Rust, SQL, Swift, Typescript, and more.

IDEs supported: VSCode, JetBrains IDEs (IntelliJ, Pycharm, etc.), Sublime, Jupyter Notebook, and more.

Free or Paid: Free for Individual, Paid for Enterprise

Why We Like This AI Coding Assistant:

Another great option is this AI assistant from Codeium. They also follow a similar approach to Tabnine by only training their model on public code rather than using any private code. Plus, if you use the individual plan, it’s advertised as free forever, which is quite impressive!

Overall, we’re impressed by Codeium’s programming language support, which extends to 70+ languages at the time of writing, ranging from mainstream options like Python, Java, and JavaScript to specialized languages like APL and COBOL. 

When it comes to primary features, their autocomplete uses machine learning to assess context when making suggestions, and their search computes local code embeddings to offer natural language semantic search within your own codebase. This is very cool!

There’s also the benefit of Codeium Chat when you use VSCode, allowing you to ask natural language questions to get help with refactoring and documentation in Python and JavaScript. Again, this is free for individuals, which is noteworthy.

5. Replit Ghostwriter

Replit Ghostwriter

Key Information

Languages supported: Bash, C, C#, C++, CSS, Go, Java, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Perl, Python, R, Ruby, Rust, SQL, and TypeScript.

IDEs supported: Only usable via cloud-based online platform, not available as an extension for local IDEs

Free or Paid: Paid on a per ‘cycle’ basis for their cloud platform

Why We Like This AI Coding Assistant:

This is the only entry on our list that is not designed to be used within your own IDE, as it’s actually a feature that’s built into the Replit suite of cloud-based AI services. 

Touted as a Ghost that codes, the TL-DR is that you’ll need to use their online code editor to use the AI coding assistant. In our opinion, this is not as convenient as IDE-based options, but the product is solid, so it is well worth considering and deserves its place on our list.

In terms of features, Ghostwriter offers real-time code suggestions in more than 16 languages, although it performs best with popular languages like JavaScript and Python. Another solid feature is the ability to generate code based on a user's descriptive prompt. 

Being cloud-based, you might be curious about data privacy, and that’s a fair question. From what we can tell, by setting your online instance to private, you can safeguard your code, but you’ll want to dig deeper if you have specific requirements.

6. JetBrains AI Assistant

JetBrains AI Assistant

Key Information

Languages supported: Java, Kotlin, and Python

IDEs supported: IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate, AppCode, Aqua, CLion, DataGrip, DataSpell, GoLand, PhpStorm, PyCharm Professional, Rider, RubyMine, and WebStorm.

Free or Paid: Free but requires a supported IDE, which may be a paid version.

Why We Like This AI Coding Assistant:

This is one of the newest AI coding assistants in our list, and JetBrains offers it for their suite of professional IDEs, including Java IDEs like IntelliJ IDEA, PyCharm for Python, and more.

One of the unique features of this AI tool is that it’s been designed to function with various Large Language Models (LLMs). Not sure what this means? No problem!

Basically, this means you can choose the AI engine. Currently, this is only working with the OpenAI LLM, but there are plans to include more providers soon, which we think is a cool touch! 

One important note is that this approach means sending data to the LLM provider. And while JetBrains assures confidentiality, this may or may not work for your own data privacy requirements.

Regarding features, the AI considers project-specifics like language and technology when generating code suggestions. Additionally, it can generate documentation for Java, Kotlin, and Python, craft commit messages, and suggest names for code declarations.

7. AskCodi

AskCodi

Key Information

Languages supported: C#, C++, CSS, HTML, Java, JavaScript, Node JS, PHP, Python, React, Rust, Typescript, and more.

IDEs supported: VSCode, IntelliJ IDEA, PyCharm, WebStorm, PHPStorm, and Sublime.

Free or Paid: Free or Paid with Premium

Why We Like This AI Coding Assistant:

AskCodi is powered by the OpenAI Codex, which it has this in common with our #1 pick, GitHub Copilot. And while it’s lesser known, it still offers the main features you’d expect. 

If you want suggestions on individual lines of code or advice on functions, you just need to ask Codi (clever name, right?!). You can use the web app or install an extension for Visual Studio Code, Visual Studio, and the JetBrains IDE suite, depending on your needs.

It also supports more than 50 programming languages and frameworks. This is ideal if you’re trying to learn new skills by taking a React course or getting to grips with Django. We also like their use of Jupyter-style workbooks and projects to help with code organization.

Codi is also multilingual, which means it also answers queries in languages like German and Spanish. But like any LLM, results depend on the clarity of your natural language statements. This is the subtle art of prompt engineering.

We should point out that we couldn’t find as much online documentation as we would have liked, so we cannot fully discuss the data privacy aspect of this tool. If this is important to you, it might be wise to contact their customer support for more detailed info. 

Wrapping Up

And there you go, the 7 best AI coding assistants you need to know about in 2024, including free and paid options suitable for all skill levels.

Whether you’re intrigued by GitHub Copilot, you like the sounds of Amazon CodeWhisperer and its integration with AWS, or perhaps you’d prefer an AI coding assistant that’s only trained on open-source repositories like Tabnine, there’s something for you on our list.

We’ve also taken the time to answer the question “what is an AI coding assistant?”, along with a detailed breakdown of how they can help students, beginner developers, and experienced professionals.

Whichever AI coding assistant you choose to add to your workflow, we hope you’ve found this article helpful, and feel free to let us know in the comments if there are other tools you’d like to see added to the list.

Happy coding!

Are you new to development and ready to use an AI coding assistant as your personal tutor? Check out:

Dr. Anglea Yu's 100 Days of Code: The Complete Python Bootcamp for 2024

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Are AI Code Assistants?

An AI coding assistant is an AI-powered tool designed to help you write, review, debug, and optimize code. AI coding assistants are also a subset of the broader category of AI development tools.

2. Which Is The Best AI Coding Assistant?

This depends on several factors like your preferred coding language, favorite IDE, and data privacy requirements. If you’re looking for the most popular AI assistant today, this is probably GitHib CoPilot, but we’d highly recommend reviewing each option on our list.

3. Is There An AI That Writes Code?

Many AI coding assistants can write code for you in response to natural language prompts or descriptive coding comments that outline what you want to achieve with your code.

4. What Is The AI Coding Assistant For VS Code?

There is no official AI coding assistant for VSCode, but most of the options on our list provide plugins to work with VSCode, which is not surprising as it’s currently the most popular coding environment among developers.

5. Will AI Replace Programmers?

In our opinion, AI will not replace programmers but will continue to be one of the most important technologies that developers will need to work in harmony with.

This includes using AI coding assistants to enhance productivity and free up time for complex programming challenges that are beyond the scope of AI. That said, the democratization of AI also means that programmers need to work hard to develop their skills to remain competitive.

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By Robert Johns

Technical Editor for Hackr.io | 15+ Years in Python, Java, SQL, C++, C#, JavaScript, Ruby, PHP, .NET, MATLAB, HTML & CSS, and more... 10+ Years in Networking, Cloud, APIs, Linux | 5+ Years in Data Science | 2x PhDs in Structural & Blast Engineering

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Jim Markus

Seems like GitHub copilot and chatgpt are top contendors for most popular ai coding assistant right now.

6 months ago