Oracle reveals Code Assist, an AI coding assistant designed for Java and SQL enterprise apps

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Oracle has announced plans for an AI-powered service to help developers rapidly program apps based on Java, SQL and the Oracle Cloud infrastructure. When released, Oracle Code Assist will join a small but growing number of similar services, such as GitHub Copilot and Amazon CodeWhisperer, aimed at accelerating the app development lifecycle. However, Oracle declined to specify when exactly this feature would be released, only saying it’s planned to be available “in the future.”

“Custom applications are the method by which every organization differentiates itself globally, but building, deploying and maintaining applications is labor and time intensive,” Aanand Krishnan, Oracle’s vice president of product management, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, said in a statement. “Organizations leveraging Oracle Code Assist can help developers increase velocity and code consistency to improve the long-term maintenance of applications in a safe, rigorous and compliant manner.”

Oracle boasts Code Assist possesses multiple capabilities, from, unsurprisingly, providing code suggestions based on learned context and patterns to generating API documentation or providing annotations to describe code functionality, summarizing code in an easily understood manner, conducting pull requests to merge changes into a repository after writing code reviews, and executing unit and functional tests on code to help developers improve the quality of their work.

When released, Oracle’s AI tool will be available as a development environment plugin for JetBrains IntelliJ IDEA or Microsoft Visual Studio Code. It’s also designed to provide “expert, opinionated feedback to help developers build, optimize and upgrade applications wherever they are run.”

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The company emphasizes Code Assist is optimized for Java and SQL, two programming languages heavily used to produce enterprise apps. The former is especially notable because Oracle is its primary developer and keeper. And why not? If you’re going to provide an AI-powered coding assistant to make app development on your platform faster and easier, why not have it support the way other programs run on Oracle’s system?

“While the market is still in its early stages, we’ve identified that none of the existing LLMs can directly address the use cases required for our products and customer base,” Vijay Kumar, Oracle’s vice president, product marketing, application development, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, shared with VentureBeat. “We’ve fine-tuned the LLMs with Java libraries and coding patterns, SQL, OCI service APIs, and our unique software and development practices to address this. This focused approach will empower our developers to build performant applications and services effectively.”

Beyond Java and SQL, Code Assist is fine-tuned using Oracle’s Cloud Infrastructure and NetSuite’s SuiteScript.

Oracle Code Assist media image
Image credit: Oracle

Some may question who might use this tool, especially with a marketplace populated by GitHub, Amazon, and startups Augment, Tabnine, Blackbox and Cognition. But having one native to a platform that’s a leader in enterprise apps could be a selling point, especially when it comes to resilience, compliance and data security. And though not explicitly stated, it’s not hard to fathom developers in specialized and regulated industries might find Code Assist appealing since Oracle has already been vetted by their teams.

“Oracle Code Assist is being built to ensure code consistency,” Kumar asserts. “This considers many different aspects so an organization can securely connect its code libraries, data sources, and more using Retrieval Augmented Generation (RAG). With this, Oracle Code Assist becomes more aware of an organization’s specific practices and provides tailored suggestions for developers writing code.”

In addition, developers could also opt to use multiple code assistants—perhaps they start with GitHub Copilot or a similar offering and then import the code into Oracle Code Assist to perfect it when it gets closer to launch.

“Developers will be able to use Oracle Code Assist to quickly upgrade entire Java applications to newer versions. This ability to rapidly upgrade Java using a coding assistant significantly increases the ability of enterprises to improve application resilience and performance, incorporate the latest JDK features and bolster their security posture,” IDC Research Vice President Arnal Dayaratna remarked.

The Code Assist announcement comes weeks after Oracle launched more than a dozen generative AI capabilities for its Fusion Cloud application family.

Updated on May 7, 2024 at 2:45pm PT: Amended post to include comment from Vijay Kumar, Oracle’s vice president, product marketing, application development, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

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