With the rise of powerful AI there were a lot of predictions that there will be no developers, but Thomas Dohmke, CEO of GitHub, believes that software development and AI are now intrinsically connected. So what happened with those predictions and why will software developers continue to be in high demand? Let’s find out today!
The CEO Perspective: Thomas Dohmke's Insights
Speaking live on stage at Techcrunch Disrupt, Dohmke argued that the software development sector won't perish as a result of the exploding AI revolution. Dohmke stated in a conversation that "The demand for software developers will continue to outweigh the supply." Dohmke, among many other tech leaders, has long insisted that AI tools such as Copilot will simply replace them. But what has changed after those words?
Software developers will continue to be in high demand for the foreseeable future, according to Dohmke, despite the possibility that the industry may shift. One of the main reasons is the enormous quantity of legacy code that is still in use today. Dohmke predicted that in ten years, the amount of software will only increase exponentially. "Every company is now a software company," the author said, "because we have an ever-growing number of lines of code we have to manage and an ever-growing number of ideas we have."
If you go to the banks and financial institutions and talk to the CTO, they'll tell you that they're running COBOL code from the sixties, and those sixties developers are all retired now. And because the code from back then was not developed using unit tests and CI/CD, someone will need to maintain it and, ideally, convert it to Java or Python. In addition, we haven't even touched on the code from the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s.
Unity's Runtime Fee and Its Implications for Developers
In reality, the situation with Unity's new 20-cent "Runtime Fee" has only proven the importance of developers nowadays. Starting on January 1, 2024, with 200,000 downloads and $200,000 in sales, a game will incur a new 20-cent fee, which will be assessed each time a player installs it. But in the end, the Runtime Fee is no longer applicable to games developed "with any currently supported Unity versions." Instead, the price only applies to games modified or created with Unity's Long Term Support version, which is scheduled to be released in 2024. Only once a game has accrued $1 million in gross revenue over the previous 12 months and 1 million initial interactions will the fee be charged.
Online, developers expressed satisfaction at the Runtime Fee's elimination, but many are still dubious, if not outraged. "Some solid change here, but it feels like they're putting the rug back in place and hoping you just stay standing on it until the next time they give it a pull," a developer at WB Games Montreal wrote. Another message from the founder of Among Us, Innersloth, stated that "Unity leadership still can't be trusted to not fuck us harder in the future." Numerous developer statements were published by the "Game Studios Disappointed by Unity" account on X, which only reposts developer statements.
A lot of questions arose about why to implement a new fee and then just cancel it. Well, the answer hides in the AI possibilities. As it was mentioned, a lot of experts, especially Unity, were sure that there would be no need for developers, but they were wrong. After the new fee policy failed and the voices of developers were heard, Thomas Dohmke at TechCrunch Disrupt looked like a scapegoat, apologizing to the industry.
Gitness: Unveiling an Open-Source GitHub Rival
Continuing the topic of fees and the importance of developers, new facts and thoughts appeared. Gitness, launched by Harness, is an open-source GitHub rival.
AppDynamics founder and CEO Jyoti Bansal said, "Right now, all you have are GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket from Atlassian. […] The real one-source ethos is no longer present in any of the git repos, whether they are hosted by GitLab, GitHub, or Bitbucket. We believe that Git was created as an open-source project, so let's restore the original open-source principles to Git repos.
He pointed out that Harness was able to incorporate some AI functionalities straight away because the firm is only developing this service right now. For code reviews and other essential platform functions, this now includes improved search features and AI-infused tooling. According to Bansal, Harness began working on this initiative a few years ago, and the majority of the 350 developers employed by the business have already migrated to the Harness Code Repository. Given that most developers currently use Git from the command line, the company already provides the technology to make it simple for any company to transition to Gitness or the Code Repository.
For most engineers, there is also not much of a difference. Harness opted to construct the graphical user interface in a style that would be comfortable to use (think GitHub-like) for those times when developers started leaving Unity. "Someone coming from GitHub to Gitness, the cognitive load of the transition will be extremely, extremely low," Bansal claimed. "People will be able to find their way around in probably five to ten minutes."
So, why try to make the coding process pleasant and intuitive for the developers when they can be replaced with AI? The answer is easy - developers will be essential for many many years.
The integration of AI into software development has sparked debates about the future of developers. However, insights from industry leaders like Thomas Dohmke emphasize that developers will remain indispensable due to the ever-growing volume of legacy code and the need for maintenance and modernization. The case of Unity's Runtime Fee underscores the ongoing importance of developers and the vital role they play in the face of evolving technologies. Harness' Gitness launch further reaffirms that creating user-friendly, developer-centric platforms is the key to a smooth transition into the future of software development. In conclusion, while AI continues to shape the landscape, developers will continue to be the linchpin of innovation and progress in the software development industry.