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in “ Tech news in brief ”,
May 26, 2021.

AI-based tool that autocompletes code

Power Apps.

Power Apps. © Microsoft.

Last September, Microsoft acquired an exclusive license for the artificial intelligence technology underlying GPT-3, the language model developed by OpenAI. Today, the Redmond giant announced its first commercial use of the technology: an assistive feature in Power Apps software that turns natural language into ready-made code. Power Apps is part of the Power Platform software suite, featuring web applications that help businesses who want to tackle basic digital tasks like analysis, data visualization and workflow automation, but aren’t in a position to hire experienced programmers. GPT-3-based functionality is limited in scope and can only produce formulas in Microsoft Power Fx, a simple programming language derived from Microsoft Excel formulas, primarily used for database queries. But it shows machine learning’s enormous potential to help novice programmers by supplying them with a code autocompleting tool. “Our goal is to democratize app development for everyone and whilst anyone that is familiar with Excel can get going with Power Apps and Power Fx right away and build awesome apps, makers can still spend time finding the correct function and syntax and refining their formula,” writes Ryan Cunningham, product manager for Power Apps. A preview of the feature will be available in June.

In practice, if you write “Display 10 orders whose product name contains ‘shelf’ and sort by date of purchase, starting with the most recent”, the function will show the appropriate formula:

FirstN(Sort(Search(‘BC Orders’, “shelf”, “aib_productname”), ‘Purchase Date’, Descending)

The Verge, James Vincent, “Microsoft has built an AI-powered autocomplete for code using GPT-3.”

Microsoft Power Apps, Ryan Cunningham, “Introducing Microsoft Power Fx: the low-code programming language for everyone.”

Microsoft Power Apps, Ryan Cunningham, “Introducing Power Apps Ideas: AI-powered assistance now helps anyone create apps using natural language.”



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