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Take ChatGPT for a Spin with VS Code Tools – Visual Studio Magazine

With ChatGPT being the first “It” tech in the cutting-edge AI space that regular people can play around with, it’s no wonder that tools to use it are exploding in the Visual Studio Code Marketplace.
As of this writing, a search for “ChatGPT” in the marketplace brings up 26 items. Of those, four have been downloaded more than 10,000 times (notably, one was reportedly even created by ChatGPT (and 9 beers).
Those stats are likely to change soon, as ChatGPT was launched by Microsoft partner OpenAI only 55 days ago as a machine language model that reacts in a conversational way to user input — basically a souped-up chatbot. Since then, the public has been stunned by the proficiency of the model in generating realistic prose of all kinds, even recently passing an MBA exam given by a Wharton professor, according to NBC News.
Basically, it did for the public what GitHub Copilot — also based on OpenAI tech — did for computer programmers.
Amid the hype and fanfare, this reporter decided to check out the top two extensions, measured by the number of installations.
Of those most-downloaded extensions in the VS Code Marketplace, the most popular one (in English) comes from Daniel Avila and is called Code GPT, downloaded 51,115 times at the time of this writing. It promises to help coders use the official OpenAI API inside VS Code IDE.
It enables developers to fire up the command palette and:
To use it, you need to provide a secret key from your OpenAI account and do a little minor configuration. From there, you can just hit Ctrl+Shift+P to open the command palette, and, for example, type in a comment like

  // write a program that displays the text "the value of pi to 10 digits is " and then computes the value of pi to 10 digits

In a TypeScript file, that results in this:
For a more robust, animated example, here’s a GIF of the “Ask Stack Overflow” functionality:
The tool received an average 4.2 score (scale 0-5) from 26 developers who reviewed it, though several reported problems that apparently had more to do with their OpenAI accounts and available credits.
However, one user commented, “This is not ChatGPT, you are using the OpenAI API which is paid.” In reply to a similar comment, Avila said on Sunday, “The extension is NOT connected with the ChatGPT API, as it has not been released yet as of today (January 22).”
So, despite coming up in a marketplace search for “ChatGPT,” this tool doesn’t use ChatGPT, though it provides a pretty close facsimile. As you can see in the description of the next item below, however, those official ChatGPT APIs are available, so perhaps this tool will be updated.
The second-most popular tool (in English) was simply named ChatGPT by its creator, Ali Gençay, and has been installed 42,457 times as of this writing. This one does promise to “Use Official OpenAI GPT3 APIs,” though it requires an OpenAI account login in a browser.
Upon installation, a ChatGPT icon appears in the Activity Bar, and clicking it opens a new Side Bar that presents you with this:
Upon going through all the installation and configuration steps, though, you’re like to be confronted with this:
The service just got too popular too fast, so you have to be patient in trying to use it. Or, as the tool description says, “It’s possible that OpenAI systems may experience issues responding to your queries due to high-traffic from time to time.” This reporter can attest to that.
If you do get through the logjam, you can ask ChatGPT questions in the Side Bar, like, “which is better, VS Code or Visual Studio, for creating a Blazor Hybrid app?” The model rides the fence on this one, seemingly being very noncommittal generally in its opinions on all subjects.
The ChatGPT extension also can act just like GitHub Copilot, the famous (or infamous) “AI pair programmer” that uses the OpenAI Codex model.
For example, it quickly spun up a “hello world” program in C#:
Features of the tool include:

Gençay’s tool earned an average 4.7 rating from 19 reviewers who had mostly positive feedback. One, from earlier this month, said: “Very nice extension!! – I think this might be the best implementation directly in VSC. The only problem is that you get logged off due to inactivity and have to log in again. I think that the same might happen on chatgpt’s website. Not super impressed with all the solutions chatgpt delivers at the moment. Actually, at the moment it has been faster to search and find a good solution on stack et al.”
But that latter method will soon be the old way of doing things.
Note that while dozens of extensions have appeared in the VS Code Marketplace, none are available in the Visual Studio Marketplace — yet.
About the Author
David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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An Open Source activist, who pursues his passion for tech blogging. In early years of his life, he worked as market analyst for a number of companies. Martin has been writing reviews and articles for a local magazine for last five years.