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Kite: The Smart Copilot for Programmers

This is the third post in our new series of blog posts on AI in software development, a topic that is dear to our heart here at Codetrails.


Kite, developed by the Bay Area start-up of the same name, calls itself a “smart copilot” for Python programmers. Like a real copilot, Kite assists you (the pilot/programmer) with supplemental information about the task at hand. Kite presents this information both inside your IDE and a separate “sidebar” application, whose window hovers next to your IDE.

What Does It Do?

Kite works with several popular Python IDEs (PyCharm) or editors (Atom, Sublime Text). It will rank their code completion proposals based on their popularity in the wild. It also enhances the built-in documentation tooltips with extra documentation derived from public code repositories. In addition to completions and documentation, the separate sidebar offers detailed examples on the module or function selected in the current editor. (For both modules and functions, you can browse this information on the Web as well.)

Beyond these features of Kite Basic, Kite Pro provides you with information on popular parameter patterns, which is especially useful in a dynamically-type language like Python, where a function’s signature often doesn’t tell the whole story. Kite Pro also includes a search engine to quickly search for modules and functions both in your own code and in thousands of Open Source libraries.

To work their magic, both Kite Basic and Pro have to upload your code to the cloud.

The following video gives a good introduction to Kite (Pro)’s various features:

Where’s the AI?

The classic AI application in Kite is the recommender system that powers its enhanced code completion. According to the developer’s blog, it bases its recommendations not only on usages in publicly available Python code but also on the feedback you implicitly give whenever you select a completion.

There’s also a lot of Big Data behind the scenes, as Kite crawls PyPI, GitHub, and HTML documentation on the Web. This is done not only to extract documentation and popular patterns, but also to derive concise code examples, often even with example inputs and outputs.

Where Can I Try it?

You can download Kite for Windows or macOS from the company’s website. You will get an unlimited license of Kite Basic. Moreover, you can register for a free 7-days trial of Kite Pro. A third product, Kite Enterprise, has also been announced but isn’t publicly available yet.

Dr. Marcel BruchAbout the author: Dr. Marcel Bruch is the founder of Codetrails and holds a PhD from Darmstadt University of Technology. He leads the Eclipse Code Recommenders project, which brought AI-powered developer assistance tools to over 4 million users.