Using ChatGPT
Last modified on Thu 07 Mar 2024

"Use ChatGPT not as a crutch, but as a catalyst. Let it spark creativity, generate ideas, and enhance your problem-solving abilities. Embrace its potential, but always remember that your own expertise and experience are the ultimate keys to success." - ChatGPT

ChatGPT and how to use it for software development

As an AI language model, ChatGPT can be a useful tool for software engineers. It can help engineers quickly generate code snippets, clarify language syntax, and offer insights into best practices. However, it is important to use ChatGPT with caution and understand its limitations.

First and foremost, ChatGPT offers only one answer at a time, and this answer may not always be the best or most accurate solution. In many cases, the "correct" answer to a programming question is subjective and depends on the specific context and use case. Developers with less experience may struggle to discern whether the answer generated by ChatGPT is the best option for their needs.

Additionally, ChatGPT is not a substitute for thorough research and due diligence. Engineers should still consult official documentation and authoritative sources, such as Stack Overflow, language-specific forums, online communities, and expert blogs to validate the answers provided by ChatGPT. Googling for solutions can also provide developers with multiple answers to choose from, and in general expand their knowledge in a couple of areas.

When using ChatGPT for software engineering, it is also important to keep in mind that it is an AI model that was trained on a large dataset of text inputs. Therefore, it may not have the same level of expertise and domain-specific knowledge as a human expert in a particular programming language or framework. This means that there may be edge cases or nuanced scenarios where ChatGPT's responses may not be the best solution.

Another very important thing to remember is that ChatGPT has limitations in terms of its ability to protect sensitive information. When using ChatGPT, it's essential to exercise caution and avoid copying and pasting sensitive or confidential information, such as client information, account details, or passwords, into the tool. This is because ChatGPT operates by analyzing and synthesizing large amounts of data, which means that any sensitive information provided could potentially be accessed or shared by others. To protect sensitive information, it's best to keep it separate from ChatGPT and other third-party tools. If you need help with a specific problem that involves sensitive information, it's best to consult with a trusted and experienced colleague or supervisor, or to seek out specialized resources and services that are specifically designed to handle sensitive data. Additionally, make sure that any code or other output generated by ChatGPT is carefully reviewed and vetted before incorporating it into your development work, to ensure that it meets any applicable security and privacy standards.

Other everyday situations where you can utilise ChatGPT

In addition to its use in generating code and solving programming-related problems, ChatGPT can be a useful tool for software engineers in a variety of other everyday scenarios. Here are some examples:

Enhancing Our Debugging Approach with ChatGPT

When faced with a bug we cannot solve, our usual workflow typically looks like this:

  1. Solution search: We search Google for a solution. This quick and efficient first step can guide us toward known solutions or new perspectives.
  2. Consulting within the team: If the problem is not quickly resolved, we seek help within our team. Sharing the problem with colleagues can lead to new insights and solutions.
  3. Posting questions on forums: If the team can't help, we post a question on Stack Overflow or similar platforms and wait for feedback from the wider community.

By using ChatGPT as step 0, we can further enhance this process. Here's how:

If you don’t know where to start:

Our goal is to use ChatGPT as a tool to help us better understand the problems we face, not just as a means for copying and pasting ready-made solutions. Clarity and details in our communication with AI can significantly improve the quality of responses and help us debug more efficiently.

Be encouraged to try these approaches but don't forget to share your experiences with each other to continuously improve your skills and processes. Our Slack team channels are knowledge repositories because we ask questions or share our journeys. Let's continue to do that by sharing how ChatGPT helped us fix our bugs, too.

*Confidentiality - Similar to writing your question about some bug on a forum or Stack Overflow, you should not share sensitive information. It's crucial to maintain the confidentiality of our work while seeking assistance. OpenAI trains on our data unless we are using ChatGPT Team, ChatGPT Enterprise, or API Platform.


In summary, while ChatGPT can be a useful tool for software development, it should be used with caution and in conjunction with other research methods. Engineers should validate ChatGPT's answers against official documentation and authoritative sources and consider its limitations as an AI model. By using ChatGPT responsibly, developers can leverage its benefits without relying on it blindly.

Note: This chapter was mostly generated by ChatGPT!

Additional note: Even though this chapter focuses on ChatGPT these guidelines and advices can be applied to other AI tools as well, so keep that in mind.