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Choosing the Best AI Code Assistant: A Tabnine vs Github Co-Pilot Comparison


For developers coding can be a time-consuming and tedious task with repetive mundane tasks, thankfully AI-powered coding assistants are emerging that make developers more efficient and allow them to focus on writing new/unique software vs reinventing and wasting hours on writing boilerplate code. Two such AI Coding assistants are Tabnine and Github Co-Pilot. But which one is the best choice for you or your team/organization?

In this post, we compare Tabnine and Github Co-Pilot to help you make an informed decision for yourself or your organization:

Tabnine is an AI-powered code assistant and code completion tool that uses AI and advanced machine learning algorithms to understand your codebase and suggest relevant and accurate code snippets. It works with a wide range of programming languages and can be integrated with several popular code editors like IntelliJ, Pycharm, Visual Studio Code, Sublime Text and many more. Tabnine provides AI code completions, smart module imports and more. The biggest advantage of Tabnine is that it provides a private model trained on your code, while Github Copilot doesn't. Tabnine also offers mid-line code completions.

Github Co-Pilot, on the other hand, is also an AI-powered code completion tool with many features similar to Tabnine, it has the advantage of being developed by Github that has access to vast amount of training data for their models (200M+ code repositories). It also integrates with a variety of IDEs; popular opinion says it generally works best with VSCode relative to other IDEs.

The biggest disadvantage of Github Co-Pilot is when you are looking for code-privacy. This is where Tabnine beats Co-Pilot hands down. There is a discussion thread about this where the top answer notes from Github CoPilot Terms of Service:

When you edit files with the GitHub Copilot extension/plugin enabled, file content snippets, suggestions, and any modifications to suggestions will be shared with GitHub, Microsoft, and OpenAI, and used for diagnostic purposes to improve suggestions and related products.

So based on the discussion and developer community observations, it can be noted that Tabnine has greater respect for IP/code-privacy, so if you are a large organization with a sensitive codebase, and are looking to empower your developers while protecting your code and intellectual property then Tabnine is a superior option. If you are an open source developer or any other organization that is okay with the idea of your code being used to train the Co-Pilot AI/ML models, then Github Co-Pilot may work just as well for you.