We can all agree it’s ridiculous to suggest that we should ignore a modern tool that makes it exponentially easier to finish our work.
But as I’ve learned in 20+ years of writing code, there’s always going to be a drawback to using any tool that “makes life easier”. In this case, AI-based tools that use ChatGPT or some other AI-based foundation are similar to the frameworks we’ve been using for years.
Now ChatGPT is everywhere, in almost any tool we use, ready to do all the work for us.
I can’t see this as being a good thing in the long run. I think two things can be true at once:
- It’s productive to use AI-based tools to complete our work
- It makes us dumber to use AI-based tools to complete our work
So here are my suggestions (meant for front-end developers, but the same concept applies elsewhere):
If you’re pretty sure of what feature to use (like Flexbox) but aren’t sure about how exactly to use it, look it up on MDN or another similar resource. Or find a nice tutorial that walks through all the features. I’ve done simple but interactive ones for CSS Grid and for Flexbox that you might enjoy.
When you write a piece of code, do your best to understand what every line — and even every character — is doing. If you change the code slightly, like changing a CSS value, ask yourself, Why does it break? Why does it not break? Endeavour to understand it. Don’t just move on because “it works”.
All this being said, it is true that ChatGPT itself can be used as a search engine or question/answer engine. But there’s something lacking when we go that route. The answers it gives are often too good and turn us into brainless robots who copy and paste the answers without much thought. And I’ve already had problems when using ChatGPT myself when it comes to debugging, maintaining, and updating code. It almost feels like you save time in the beginning, but lose a lot of that time later.
Ultimately, we’re all going to do what helps us finish our jobs, makes us more money, and pleases our bosses and clients. But let’s not forget about raw coding. That’s the kind of work that I believe makes us better web developers and will help us be capable in a job interview.