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When Copilot Loses Direction: A Celebration of Shoddy Workmanship

A video from Microsoft, intended to be a dazzling demonstration of Copilot's capabilities, is instead a tragically comedic presentation of the decline in programming craftsmanship.

I'm referring to this video. It's supposed to showcase the abilities of GitHub Copilot, including how to use it to write a regular expression for searching <img> tags with the hero-image class. However, the original code being modified is as holey as Swiss cheese, something I would be embarrassed to use. Copilot gets carried away and instead of correcting, continues in the same vein.

The result is a regular expression that unintentionally matches other classes, tags, attributes, and so on. Worse still, it fails if the src attribute is listed before class.

I write about this because this demonstration of shoddy work, especially considering the official nature of the video, is startling. How is it possible that none of the presenters or their colleagues noticed this? Or did they notice and decide it didn't matter? That would be even more disheartening. Teaching programming requires precision and thoroughness, without which incorrect practices can easily be propagated. The video was meant to celebrate the art of programming, but I see in it a bleak example of how the level of programming craftsmanship is falling into the abyss of carelessness.

Just to give a bit of a positive spin: the video does a good job of showing how Copilot and GPT work, so you should definitely give it a look 🙂

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