Stability AI and Google target software developers with latest generative AI tools

Stability AI and Google target software developers with latest generative AI tools

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Stability AI Ltd. and Google Cloud are stepping up their efforts to automate the business of writing code with the launch of new generative artificial intelligence tools aimed at developers.

While Stability AI is taking its first stab at code generation with its latest generative AI model, Google has introduced a web-based development environment that aims to make life easier for developers building multiplatform applications.

Stability AI said the open-source StableCode is a large language model that’s designed to help developers generate code, and is being made available in three versions — a basic model for general use cases, an instruction model and a long-context-window model that supports up to 16,000 tokens for more advanced programming.

StableCode was trained using coding data from the open-source BigCode project, and is said to support development in Python, Go, Java, JavaScript, C, markdown and C++. The BigCode project was notably used as the base for ServiceNow Inc.’s StarCoder LLM, which was developed in collaboration with HuggingFace Inc. and launched in May.

What’s interesting about StableCode is the long-context-window version, which supports more tokens than any other model of its kind. According to Stability AI, this will allow developers to use more specialized and complicated code generation prompts. In addition, it will be able to look at an existing code base with multiple files, understand it, and generate fresh code on top of it.

In an interview with VentureBeat, Stability AI’s head of research Christian Laforte said the goal with StableCode is to help everyone become a developer, similar to how its Stable Diffusion model helped everyone in the world to become an artist.

“We’d like to do the same thing with the StableCode model: basically allow anyone that has good ideas [and] maybe has a problem, to be able to write a program that would just fix that problem,” he explained.

Project IDX for multiplatform app development

While Stability AI tries to get the entire world into coding, Google’s new Project IDX is aimed at making life much easier for qualified software developers, providing everything they need to start writing new applications. It bundles an integrated development environment with Android and iOS emulators, plus AI enhancements, and makes everything accessible through a web browser.

Google reckons Project IDX will solve a number of headaches for developers, such as the difficulty of setting up the underlying technology stack. It will also make it easier for developers to switch between their regular laptop and a workstation, for example, and ensure the app they’re working on stays in sync on both machines. This helps to resolve problems around code behaving differently across multiple devices.

In addition, Google points out that many developers lack the funds to buy a suitably high-powered laptop or personal computer to build their applications on. For instance, most Flutter apps can be quite taxing on the average PC when the developer is simultaneously editing the code and running it in an emulator.

Project IDX is the solution to these challenges, Google promises. It’s based on Code OSS, an open-source variant of Microsoft Corp.’s VS Code, so it should feel familiar to most developers.

Moreover, everything runs in a Linux-based virtual machine in the cloud, enabling users to set up a suitable tech stack for their projects. In addition, Google provides templates for various apps and projects on frameworks such as Angular, React, Next.js and Flutter to help developers get started.

The other useful thing about Project IDX is it can generate live previews of developer’s apps. This is available only for web-based apps at first, but Google said it’s planning to introduce Android and iOS emulators at a later date. Google says this is key, especially for iOS developers, as they normally have to invest in expensive Apple Inc. hardware such as an Apple Mac. Instead, they will simply be able to run their code in the cloud and see how it works through a cloud-based emulator.

Finally, Project IDX offers integrated Firebase Hosting support, which makes it easier to deploy and share code with others. Of course, it also integrates with Google’s own generative AI code generation tools, Codey and PaLM 2, providing access to features such as an assistive chatbot, smart code completion and contextual prompts such as “explain this code.”

Google hasn’t yet mentioned anything about pricing for Project IDX but said it’s committed to making it accessible to a wide, global audience so it’s likely it won’t be too pricey. Developers can access Project IDX for free now by signing up for the preview program.

Images: frimufilms/Freepik, Stability AI, Google

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