Supermaven: The FREE GitHub Copilot Alternative

Supermaven: The FREE GitHub Copilot Alternative


AI has revolutionized software development by providing tools that greatly improve productivity and efficiency. In this article, tech industry experts Matt Lawrence and Mike Karan introduce Supermaven, a powerful new AI-powered code completion tool with a FREE tier that can significantly boost your productivity! Whether you're an experienced developer or just starting out, this guide will show you how to integrate Supermaven into your development workflow to enhance your coding skills and streamline your projects!

Topics covered in this article include:

  • Introduction to Supermaven

  • About Jacob Jackson

  • What is an LLM?

  • Why Choose Supermaven Over GitHub Copilot

  • Podcast Topics:

    • Will the AI Hype Bubble Burst

    • AI limitations

    • Will AI Replace Developer Jobs

  • My review section:

    • Installing Supermaven

    • My Initial Thoughts on Supermaven

    • My Questions for Jacob Jackson

    • Supermaven's Upcoming Enhancements (Chatbot)

What is Supermaven?

Supermaven is an advanced AI-powered code completion tool designed to enhance developer productivity with its fast, high-quality code suggestions. Founded by Jacob Jackson, Supermaven is built by a dedicated team aiming to create the best developer tools using unique technology.

Supermaven has demonstrated superior speed and lower latency in performance tests compared to competitors like GitHub Copilot, Codeium, Tabnine, and Cursor. Its unique approach of analyzing the sequence of edits rather than just files helps it quickly understand what you're trying to achieve, making it an excellent tool for refactoring and other coding tasks.

About Jacob Jackson

Jacob Jackson is an entrepreneur and software developer known for founding Tabnine and Supermaven. In addition to these ventures, Jacob worked at OpenAI (creators of ChatGPT)! He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Waterloo in 2019 and has engaged in competitive programming. Additionally, he developed a visual search engine called Same Energy, showcasing his diverse skills in technology and AI.

Through his leadership and vision, Jacob continues pushing the boundaries of AI and developer tools, demonstrating that small startups can still innovate and compete in large language models and AI tools!

What is an LLM?

A Large Language Model (LLM) is a type of artificial intelligence designed to understand and generate human language. Trained on vast datasets, LLMs can perform tasks such as text completion, translation, and summarization. These models, like GPT-4, analyze patterns in text to predict and generate coherent responses, making them powerful tools for developers and content creators.

Why Choose Supermaven Over GitHub Copilot?

Why Choose Supermaven Over GitHub Copilot? At the time of this article's release, Supermaven offers a free tier, while GitHub Copilot provides a free trial that eventually requires you to choose a payment plan.

Supermaven is also much faster than GitHub Copilot. Mike Karan confirms Supermaven's super speed by sharing his personal experience using both platforms.

Mike was an early adapter of GitHub Copilot, as he was part of the first group of beta testers. He then became a paying customer and incorporated using it into his regular workflow. Since Mike has also used Tabnine, another developer tool created by Jacob Jackson, Supermaven piqued his interest. The benchmarking speed was evident once he gave Supermaven a test run!

Supermaven has a longer context window than GitHub Copilot, which gives the model more information about your code to make better predictions. This helps it better adapt to your coding style and understand your codebase's unique APIs and conventions.

Since Supermaven analyzes the differences (diffs) between your code's current and previous states, it understands the context of recent changes, resulting in more accurate and relevant code suggestions. By looking at diffs rather than just the current state of the code, it better comprehends what you’re currently working on.

Mike Karan applauds Jacob's accomplishments as a software innovator, noting that his workflow has benefited greatly from both Tabnine and Supermaven!

Podcast Topics

In the upcoming article section, we will cover the three main topics brought up during Jacob's Podcast special:

  • Will the AI Hype Bubble Burst

  • AI limitations

  • Will AI Replace Developer Jobs

Will the AI Hype Bubble Burst

Matt Lawrence makes a good point during the Podcast, noting that there was a lot of hype around Web3 not too long ago. As time passed, although Web3 is still around, the hype around it has clearly ended.

So the question is, will the current AI hype bubble burst? Jacob explains that the hype around AI will continue to fluctuate and highlights a distinct difference between Web3 and AI hype. While Web3's use case is limited, AI has numerous applications. According to Jacob, AI tools will continue to be used as long as they remain helpful and relevant to a developer's workflow, even if the hype dies down.

AI limitations

During the podcast, Mike Karan asked Jacob about AI's current limitations. Having worked with AI at OpenAI (ChatGPT) and tech startups Tabnine and Supermaven, Jacob provides valuable insights into these limitations. Jacob informs us that current AI technologies are trained to predict what you will type next, meaning that they are trained on short-term predictions. So, a current limitation of AI is its inability to make long-term predictions. For example, while an AI can suggest the next line of code you might write, it struggles to plan the architecture of a complex software project from start to finish.

Another limitation of AI is its current cost. Jacob explains that it is currently more cost-effective for companies to house the expensive hardware and share it among users who log in over the internet. Although computer hardware will eventually be capable of running AI models offline, Jacob says the AI models might not be as powerful or intelligent.

Will AI Replace Developer Jobs

Now, to address the question everyone in tech has on their minds: Will AI replace developer jobs? Given Jacob's expertise as an AI industry professional, he is a great person to ask!

Jacob believes that AI will not replace developer jobs and that developers will continue to thrive. Although it's a compelling "sales pitch" to sell an AI developer like Devin to corporations, Jacob tells us that AI developers will be incapable of meeting expectations. One main reason is AI's inability to make long-term decisions, as discussed earlier in this article.

That said, if you are interested in landing or keeping a job in tech, it is crucial to become an outstanding developer who can adequately use AI as a tool, not as a crutch. With AI, well-trained developers can accomplish much more than in the past, likely resulting in smaller teams per company. AI appears to be on a path that's trimming down the tech industry landscape to consist of only the best of the best.

My review section

In this section, I'll review my personal experience using Supermaven, covering its installation, initial impressions, questions for its creator, and upcoming enhancements.

  • Installing Supermaven

  • My Initial Thoughts on Supermaven

  • My Questions for Jacob Jackson (Supermaven's creator)

  • Supermaven's Upcoming Enhancements (Chatbot)

Installing Supermaven

For a VS Code user like myself, the easiest way to install Supermaven is through the Extensions tab in the VS Code editor. Alternatively, you can follow their instructions for Supermaven installation options (VS Code Marketplace).

Simply fire up VS Code and search for "Supermaven" in the Extensions tab. Once installed, you will need to restart VS Code. A pop-up will appear with a button saying "Activate." Click the button and follow the instructions on the Supermaven website to link your account, or click "Use free version" to use the Free Tier (I chose the free tier).

If you choose the "Free Tier," you will need to provide an email address. Once successfully installed, you will see Supermaven Free Tier in your VS Code Status Bar.

If you're using Supermaven Pro, you should see an indicator in the lower right displaying the active repository that Supermaven is indexing.

My Initial Thoughts on Supermaven

After installing Supermaven as a VS Code extension, I opened up my code editor and continued working on my latest project (a React Star Wars website). I was immediately surprised by the auto-complete suggestions and shared my thoughts on Twitter/X:

So far, it's “freaky-cool!” Meaning it's cool how it auto-completes while you're typing your code, but “freaky” that it knows exactly what you're about to type!

As I still consider myself a student of React, Supermaven advantageously acts as a code mentor by providing autocomplete suggestions for code that I might not have come up with on my own, further assisting in my code-learning journey.

Specifically, Supermaven autocompleted an entire mapping function for my menu that renders the categories for my React image carousel. Although I knew I needed to write a mapping function, I would have had to research the syntax to write it myself. Not only did Supermaven save me time in research, but it also taught me how to write the function!

Another thing to note about Supermaven's autocompleted function is that it's specific to my codebase; It is not a "textbook" default mapping function you would find on a coding website. It was crafted to fit my project, including class names and uppercasing the first letter of each category rendered, as seen in the code block below. 🔽

    return (
            {Object.keys(categoriesMap).map((category) => (
                <button className="button-sw"
                    onClick={() => handleCategoryChange(category)}
                    {category.charAt(0).toUpperCase() + category.slice(1)}

Regarding productivity with speed and accuracy, Supermaven excels in exporting and importing variables! As soon as I placed my cursor in the export, Supermaven autocompleted the variables I wanted to export and suggested autocompleting them in the import file when I moved my cursor there. Not to mention, autocompleting helps prevent syntax errors!

But what impressed me the most and was the biggest time saver was creating an array of images for my React carousel. As you can see in the screenshot below, after I typed out a few lines of monotonous code, Supermaven caught onto the pattern and then auto-suggested the remaining code I needed, allowing me to finish the tedious task with the simple click of the "Tab" key!

Supermaven is my first experience with an AI autocompletion tool, and I feel fortunate to start with one that performs so well in benchmarking tests. I was also late to learning React, beginning with the high-performance Vite and completely bypassing Create React App. So the Supermaven/Vite combo is working really well for me!

My Questions for Jacob

Now that I had Supermaven up and running, I had several questions, and I was fortunate enough to get the answers directly from its creator, Jacob Jackson!

Firstly, since I'm new to using an AI that auto-completes code, I wanted to know what kind of project would be good to demonstrate the benefits of Supermaven. Jacob tells us that Supermaven shines best in large, complex projects because those projects have the most context for Supermaven to use. I can confirm this because, as I stated earlier, Supermaven was able to suggest a helpful custom block of code that was unique to my project. It succeeded because it derived its suggestion based on other code and context in my project codebase.

Next, what are the limitations of Supermaven's FREE tier? Is there a time or autocomplete limit? The great news is that the free tier has no time or autocomplete limit! However, the benefit of upgrading to Supermaven Pro is that you get the full 300,000-token context window, which helps the model give you better suggestions.

Now, before you accuse me of amping up Supermaven to be the best thing since sliced bread, I encountered an auto-complete issue, and I did have some privacy concerns.

Supermaven seemed to compete with VS Codes' autocomplete, interrupting my workflow. I asked Jacob if there are recommendations for special settings to prioritize Supermaven for a better autocomplete experience. Unfortunately, there’s no way to give Supermaven autocomplete priority; however, if you want to accept the Supermaven suggestion and there’s a VS Code autocomplete popup in the way, you can press Space followed by Backspace, and it will clear the autocomplete popup and allow you to see the Supermaven suggestion.

As for security concerns, I've often heard that companies are hesitant to use AI tools due to privacy issues. It appears that any data fed into the AI is retained and learned from and could potentially be shared with others using the AI model. And when it comes to Supermaven, this is no different! Supermaven does take several steps to safeguard the confidentiality of the code sent to its servers. All code data uploaded via official Supermaven editor extensions is subject to a 7-day retention policy, meaning it will be deleted from their systems within 7 days of upload. Supermaven does not use this data to develop its products and services or share it with third parties except as required by law or necessary to provide its services. They use Amazon Web Services to manage and store code data securely. You can refer to their Code Policy on the official Supermaven website for more detailed information.

Supermaven has a Code Policy to help address customer concerns:

💡 Note:*I am comfortable with their code policy since I primarily use Supermaven for public GitHub repositories and study projects. However, if you are using it in a corporate, freelance, or any other commercial setting, be sure to obtain permission.*

Supermaven's Upcoming Chatbot

I'm currently using Hashnode's AI Chatbot as my main AI assistant. My workflow includes using VS Code along with an open browser window for Hashnode. Now that I'm using Supermaven as a VS Code extension, I thought it would be great if Supermaven had its own chatbot to complement its autocomplete. I asked Jacob if there would be a Supermaven chat window for coders to use alongside the autocomplete, and the answer is YES!

Supermaven will add a chatbot within a few weeks of this article's publication. Users will be able to use state-of-the-art chat models like GPT-4 and Claude Opus for coding help as an additional AI companion to the autocomplete!

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Supermaven is an AI-powered code completion tool with a FREE tier that offers fast, high-quality code suggestions and excels in performance compared to competitors like GitHub Copilot. It analyzes code differences to provide more accurate and relevant code suggestions, making it a good AI completion code choice to add to your workflow.

With AI-powered tools on the rise, a big question is whether AI will replace developer jobs. As an AI industry professional, Jacob relives our worries by telling us that AI will not replace developer jobs but will enhance developers' productivity. However, to remain relevant in the tech industry, developers will need to effectively use AI as a tool, not as a crutch! Jacob also informs us that although the AI hype may fluctuate, AI tools will continue to be used as long as they remain helpful and relevant to developers' workflows.

Additionally, current AI has limitations, such as its inability to make long-term predictions and its high operational costs, which means developers will still be needed for the foreseeable future. So don't give up learning to code just yet!

In my personal experience, I found Supermaven helpful for learning and productivity. After installing Supermaven as a VS Code extension, I was immediately impressed by its auto-complete suggestions while working on my React Star Wars website. It felt "freaky cool" how accurately it predicted my code! As a React learner, Supermaven is a valuable code mentor, saving me time and teaching me through its suggested code blocks.

So what else is in the works for Supermaven? Supermaven will soon add a chatbot feature, allowing users to use advanced chat models like GPT-4 and Claude Opus for coding help alongside autocomplete!

Give Supermaven a try and experience the future of coding assistance today. You have nothing to lose and an AI companion to gain!

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