Today we’re excited to be launching Cursor – our experimental AI assistant trained to answer questions about Cloudflare’s Developer Platform. This is just the first step in our journey to help developers build in the fastest way possible using AI, so we wanted to take the opportunity to share our vision for a generative developer experience.
Whenever a new, disruptive technology comes along, it’s not instantly clear what the native way to interact with that technology will be.
However, if you’ve played around with Large Language Models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT, it’s easy to get the feeling that this is something that’s going to change the way we work. The question is: how? While this technology already feels super powerful, today, we’re still in the relatively early days of it.
While Developer Week is all about meeting developers where they are, this is one of the things that’s going to change just that — where developers are, and how they build code. We’re already seeing the beginnings of how the way developers write code is changing, and adapting to them. We wanted to share with you how we’re thinking about it, what’s on the horizon, and some of the large bets to come.
How is AI changing developer experience?
If there’s one big thing we can learn from the exploding success of ChatGPT, it’s the importance of pairing technology with the right interface. GPT-3 — the technology powering ChatGPT has been around for some years now, but the masses didn’t come until ChatGPT made it accessible to the masses.
Since the primary customers of our platform are developers, it’s on us to find the right interfaces to help developers move fast on our platform, and we believe AI can unlock unprecedented developer productivity. And we’re still in the beginning of that journey.
Wave 1: AI generated content
One of the things ChatGPT is exceptionally good at is generating new content and articles. If you’re a bootstrapped developer relations team, the first day playing around with ChatGPT may have felt like you struck the jackpot of productivity. With a simple inquiry, ChatGPT can generate in a few seconds a tutorial that would have otherwise taken hours if not days to write out.
This content still needs to be tested — do the code examples work? Does the order make sense? While it might not get everything right, it’s a massive productivity boost, allowing a small team to multiply their content output.
In terms of developer experience, examples and tutorials are crucial for developers, especially as they start out with a new technology, or seek validation on a path they’re exploring.
However, with AI generated content, it’s always going to be limited to well, how much of it you generated. To compare it to the newspaper, this content is still one size fits all. If as a developer you stray ever so slightly off the beaten path (choose a different framework than the one tutorial suggests, or a different database), you’re still left to put the pieces together, navigating tens of open tabs in order to stitch together your application.
If this content is already being generated by AI, however, why not just go straight to the source, and allow developers to generate their own, personal guides?
Wave 2: Q&A assistants
Since developers love to try out new technologies, it’s no surprise that developers are going to be some of the early adopters for technology such as ChatGPT. Many developers are already starting to build applications alongside their trusted bard, ChatGPT.
Rather than using generated content, why not just go straight to the source, and ask ChatGPT to generate something that’s tailored specifically for you?
There’s one tiny problem: the information is not always up to date. Which is why plugins are going to become a super important way to interact.
But what about someone who’s already on Cloudflare’s docs? Here, you want a native experience where someone can ask questions and receive answers. Similarly, if you have a question, why spend time searching the docs, if you can just ask and receive an answer?
Wave 3: generative experiences
In the examples above, you were still relying on switching back and forth between a dedicated AI interface and the problem at hand. In one tab you’re asking questions, while in another, you’re implementing the answers.
But taking things another step further, what if AI just met you where you were? In terms of developer experience, we’re already starting to see this in the authoring phase. Tools like GitHub Copilot help developers generate boilerplate code and tests, allowing developers to focus on more complex tasks like designing architecture and algorithms.
Sometimes, however, the first iteration AI comes up with might not match what you, the developer had in mind, which is why we’re starting to experiment with a flow-based generative approach, where you can ask AI to generate several versions, and build out your design with the one that matches your expectations the most.
The possibilities are endless, enabling developers to start applications from prompts rather than pre-generated templates.
We’re excited for all the possibilities AI will unlock to make developers more productive than ever, and we’d love to hear from you how AI is changing the way you change applications.
We’re also excited to share our first steps into the realm of AI driven developer experience with the release of our first two ChatGPT plugins, and by welcoming a new member of our team —Cursor, our docs AI assistant.
Our first milestone to AI driven UX: AI Assisted Docs
As the first step towards using AI to streamline our developer experience, we’re excited to introduce a new addition to our documentation to help you get answers as quickly as possible.
How to use Cursor
Here’s a sample exchange with Cursor:
You’ll notice that when you ask a question, it will respond with two pieces of information: a text based response answering your questions, and links to relevant pages in our documentation that can help you go further.
Here’s what happens when we ask “What video formats does Stream support?”.
If you were looking through our examples you may not immediately realize that this specific example uses both Workers and R2.
In its current state, you can think of it as your assistant to help you learn about our products and navigate our documentation in a conversational way. We’re labeling Cursor as experimental because this is the very beginning stages of what we feel like a Cloudflare AI assistant could do to help developers. It is helpful, but not perfect. To deal with its lack of perfection, we took an approach of having it do fewer things better. You’ll find there are many things it isn’t good at today.
How we built Cursor
Under the hood, Cursor is powered by Workers, Durable Objects, OpenAI, and the Cloudflare developer docs. It uses the same backend that we’re using to power our ChatGPT Docs plugin, and you can read about that here.
It uses the “Search-Ask” method, stay tuned for more details on how you can build your own.
A sneak peek into the future
We’re already thinking about the future, we wanted to give you a small preview of what we think this might look like here:
With this type of interface, developers could use a UI to have an AI generate code and developers then link that code together visually. Whether that’s with other code generated by the AI or code they’ve written themselves. We’ll be continuing to explore interfaces that we hope to help you all build more efficiently and can’t wait to get these new interfaces in your hands.
We need your help
Our hope is to quickly update and iterate on how Cursor works as developers around the world use it. As you’re using it to explore our documentation, join us on Discord to let us know your experience.