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Tabnine vs. GitHub Copilot: 6 key differences
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Tabnine vs. GitHub Copilot: 6 key differences

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Tabnine Team /
5 minutes /
January 2, 2023

Both Tabnine and Copilot offer AI coding assistant solutions for R&D teams. So which solution is better?  

We’ve put together a comparison using the most common parameters that we’ve encountered in our work as developers, while also serving the dev community for several years. From our POV, these parameters reflect the most important needs, pain points, and challenges that must be addressed by AI code assistants for enterprises:

  • Code privacy: Privacy controls to ensure that code remains safe, private, and secure, including whether public AI models are trained on your code and how well your code is isolated and protected
  • Open source compliance: Each company’s practices regarding the code that the AI models are trained on
  • Ability to connect AI models to an organization’s code repository: Whether it’s possible to connect the AI model to your org’s codebase to improve code suggestions
  • Centralized configuration: The type of centralized configuration and management offered to customers
  • Price: Price point for each user in the organization
  • User management: The types of user management available 

Table comparison of Tabnine vs. GitHub Copilot

[table id=5 /]

 

Drilling down further into Tabnine vs. Copilot 

Let’s look at the parameters and how each solution compares.

Code privacy 

Tabnine Enterprise offers full privacy for its customers’ code:

  • Your code is fully private and isolated; code and training data are never sent to Tabnine.
  • Tabnine’s general AI models are never trained on customer code.
  • Tabnine Enterprise customers can install Tabnine Enterprise on a VPC or on-premises.

This ensures you always have complete control over your IP and protection against IP leakage. 

On the other hand, Copilot for Individuals and Copilot for Business send both code snippets and user engagement data to Microsoft. 

With Copilot, it’s possible to opt out of saving code snippets; however, user engagement data is collected and used to improve Copilot’s AI models. 

Open source compliance

The code on which a solution’s AI models are trained can have a serious impact on the companies that use the solutions. 

Tabnine doesn’t train (and never has trained) its AI models on code with nonpermissive licenses and offers full transparency and attribution. This means that Tabnine isn’t restricted by the GPL license’s copyleft provisions, and protects users and customers from possible related consequences. In addition, it’s always been Tabnine’s goal to honor the intent of code authors and maintain good faith with the rest of the developer community. 

On the other hand, Copilot trains its models on OpenAI, which could result in legal exposure for its customers. This is because OpenAI is trained on nonpermissive open source, such as GPL, and doesn’t disclose its training set or provide references. Copilot does offer a filter to remove code suggestions that contain problematic code; however, it’s not always effective, meaning that the legal risk remains.

Ability to connect AI models to an organization’s code repository

While Copilot is trained only on OpenAI, Tabnine Enterprise allows customers to connect Tabnine’s AI models to their code repositories. This means the models, which are only accessible to the customer, can learn the organization’s coding best practices, styles, naming conventions, and more, resulting in code suggestions that are more context-sensitive and relevant. In addition, this allows for faster onboarding and training of new team members and junior developers.  

Centralized configuration

Both Tabnine Enterprise and Copilot Business offer central management and configuration; however, the features offered are different. 

Tabnine Enterprise’s centralized configuration allows customers to:

  • Configure the platform for your organization’s security and privacy requirements
  • Connect AI models to different repos for different teams
  • Manage access roles and permissions
  • Monitor usage through advanced reporting
  • Manage subscriptions

Copilot Business’s centralized configuration allows customers to:

  • Manage access roles and permissions
  • Filter out code suggestions that closely match public code on GitHub

Copilot for Individuals doesn’t offer centralized configuration and allows customers to:

  • Filter out code suggestions that closely match public code on GitHub

Price

On the surface, the price appears to be almost the same ($20 per Tabnine Enterprise user, $19 per Copilot Business user). 

However, Copilot Business is only available to companies using GitHub Enterprise, which charges $210 per seat per year. In effect, that’s a barrier for enterprise companies that don’t need or want GitHub Enterprise. 

Copilot for Individuals costs $10 per month (or $100 per year). However, the Individual plan doesn’t include any of the features suited for enterprise, including privacy and security.

User management

Both Tabnine Enterprise and Copilot Business allow enterprise customers to configure and manage user roles and permissions. However, Copilot for Individuals doesn’t offer any user management capabilities.

Tabnine is the AI coding assistant that you control

Whether you’re choosing an AI coding assistant to make your life easier as an individual developer or choosing a tool to deploy to your entire engineering team to improve the effectiveness and satisfaction of your team, it’s critical to evaluate potential vendors holistically:

  • Does the AI coding assistant offer a comprehensive platform with in-line code completions and support via chat?
  • Does the vendor support the full variety of IDEs and languages your team currently utilizes?
  • Does the AI coding assistant leverage world-class models? Are they able to evolve their models as the technology improves?
  • Can the AI platform be optimized for your engineering team with tailored models and context-awareness?
  • Does the vendor offer complete privacy for your codebase and data around usage? Do they offer air-gapped deployments (on-premises or VPC) or guaranteed zero data retention?
  • Was the AI coding assistant trained exclusively on code with permissive licenses? Does the vendor offer protection from legal risk by limiting the recommendations to software you have the rights to and not just promises of indemnification?
  • Can the vendor meet your company’s expectations for security and compliance?

Only Tabnine meets all of these requirements expected by enterprise engineering teams and has the history and scale of developer adoption to prove it.

Since launching our first AI coding assistant in 2018, Tabnine has pioneered generative AI for software development. Tabnine helps development teams of every size use AI to accelerate and simplify the software development process without sacrificing privacy and security. Tabnine boosts engineering velocity, code quality, and developer happiness by automating the coding workflow through AI tools customized to your team. With more than one million monthly users, Tabnine typically automates 30–50% of code creation for each developer and has generated more than 1% of the world’s code.

Unlike generic coding assistants, Tabnine is the AI that you control:

Tabnine ensures the privacy of your code and your engineering team’s activities. Tabnine lives where and how you want it to — deployed as protected SaaS for convenience, on-premises for you to lock down the environment, or on a virtual private cloud for the balance of the two. Tabnine guarantees zero data retention, and we never use your code, data, or behaviors to feed our general models.

Personalized

Tabnine is personalized to your team for optimal impact on your business. Tabnine is built on best-of-breed large language models (with the flexibility to switch as new models emerge or improve) and gives you the ability to fine-tune or deploy fully customized models. Tabnine is context-aware of your code and patterns, delivering recommendations based on your internal standards and engineering practices.

Tabnine works the way you want, with the tools you use. Tabnine supports a wide scope of IDEs and languages, improving and adding more all the time. Tabnine also provides engineering managers with visibility into how AI is used in their software development process and the impacts it is having on team performance.

Secured

Tabnine is secure and trusted. Tabnine believes in building trust through algorithmic transparency and thus shares how our models are built and trained with our customers. Furthermore, we’re relentlessly focused on protecting our customers’ interests by only training on code with permissive licenses and only returning code recommendations that will not be subject to future questions of ownership and potential litigation. We respect open source code authors and their rights as well as the rights of every one of our customers.

As you should expect from any vendor, Tabnine offers proven, enterprise-grade security and meets key industry standards.

Get started with Tabnine for free for 90 days, or contact us to learn how we can help your engineering team be happier and more productive.