SAN FRANCISCO: Singapore’s coding community takes the lead in Asia-Pacific growth, surpassing even India, according to a recent report from GitHub. The findings, released during the GitHub Universe conference in San Francisco, indicate a significant surge in coding participation in the city-state.

Nearly one million residents in Singapore, constituting one in six of the population, have embraced coding. This represents a remarkable fourfold increase from 260,000 in 2019, underscoring Singaporeans’ growing interest in programming skills. The local coding community witnessed a notable 39% growth in the 12 months leading up to September, outpacing India.

GitHub’s Insights and the Growth of Singapore’s Developer Community

GitHub’s data, derived from unique user logins in Singapore, provided valuable insights into the growth of the city-state’s developer community. The report was revealed during the GitHub Universe conference, drawing attention from 2,100 tech enthusiasts over two days.

While an estimated 200,000 software developers are in Singapore, GitHub’s data includes members contributing to analytics, design, or deployment of computing commands, not exclusively writing code, as reported by The Straits Times.

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GitHub, a platform utilised by 93% of global software developers, has become a key player in tracking and analysing developer trends.

GitHub’s Shift Towards an AI-Powered Developer Platform

At the conference, GitHub’s Chief Executive, Thomas Dohmke, and other presenters introduced a suite of generative artificial intelligence (gen AI) tools, marking a strategic shift towards an “AI-powered developer platform.” Acquired by Microsoft in 2018, GitHub has maintained an edge over competitors through its partnership with OpenAI, in which Microsoft invested over US$10 billion (S$13.6 billion) for first rights to its renowned gen AI technology, ChatGPT.

Dohmke described gen AI in coding as a “fundamental shift in software development.” The emphasis on natural language aims to provide a more expressive way for humans to interact with code, unlocking a new wave of software developers and enhancing productivity for existing developers.

GitHub Copilot Chat and Future Developments

GitHub’s upcoming launch of GitHub Copilot Chat, a text-prompt addition to GitHub Copilot, is set to further enhance the coding experience. The multi-language chatbot, scheduled for release in December, acts as a supportive companion to coders, offering suggestions, completing code lines, and troubleshooting alongside them.

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GitHub plans to introduce a personalised Copilot version for enterprises, priced at US$39 per user a month, by February. According to the company, GitHub Copilot has already demonstrated its effectiveness, raising developers’ productivity by 55%. Singapore, ranking 10th globally for contributions to gen AI projects on GitHub, is expected to swiftly adopt these innovations.

Ms Sharryn Napier, GitHub’s vice-president for Asia-Pacific, expressed confidence in Singapore’s tech sector, stating, “In my experience, Singapore has always punched above its weight, particularly in the technology sector.”

Analyst Thomas Murphy from research firm Gartner highlighted GitHub’s strategic move to offer Copilot Chat to subscribers at no additional fee, adding perceived value to its core product. GitHub’s revenues are anticipated to rise fivefold to US$5 billion within the next five years, according to Bernstein Research managing director Stacy Rasgon.

While GitHub has traditionally been seen as a strategic player rather than a primary revenue driver, the platform’s evolution and integration of AI technologies position it for substantial growth. Despite not being listed in Microsoft’s 14 product revenue lines, GitHub’s potential for revenue generation is becoming more evident.

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Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, shared insights during an analyst briefing in October, revealing that over one million users from around 37,000 organisations now pay to use GitHub Copilot for business. Nadella praised GitHub Copilot for its approachability and ease, expressing a vision to empower a billion people. /TISG