Pair programming

Thijs van der Vossen

Martin has taken some baby steps toward pair programming. One thing holding them back is that they work on al lot of different projects, so it’s rare for two people to be assigned to the same thing.

Although we’ve taken a lot of our practices from Extreme Programming, we don’t do full-time pair programming for much of the same reasons. I don’t see how pairing is going to help me when I’m designing a user interface, or when I’m doing server maintenance.

Having said that, we find ourselves programming in pairs more and more often. It really is much faster to solve complex problems together. It also works great for refactoring, because it’s much easier to keep track of all the changes when you’re working as a pair.

The only problem with pair programming is that it’s hard to explain to people who have no experience with it. Why would you want to have two programmers working on something that one can do alone? Isn’t that just wasting valuable programming hours?

Although there is a lot of evidence suggesting that it’s not, we’ve sidestepped the issue somewhat by only pairing for short periods of time when it’s really clear that it helps the project going forward.