As the name suggests, pair programming consists of two programmers sharing a single workstation. It’s also known as “pairing,” “programming in pairs,” and “paired programming ”. During pair programming, the pair gets one screen, keyboard, and mouse. The programmer at the keyboard known as the "driver", codes while the other acts as an observer and checks the code being written for spellings and accuracy. The observer also focuses on where to go next. These roles are switched every few minutes. Improving code quality is one of the significant advantages of pair programming. This strategy results in the following outcomes.
Instant Code Review: Real-time code review is one of the most evident advantages of pair programming. The strategy also called as "programming out loud" results in clear articulation of the complexities and reduces the risk of errors. With two people actively engaging with the process and viewing one screen, more typos and errors are easily detected and rectified. The phrase two heads are better than one is quite true as the two are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction.
Pairs are twice as likely to identify if the current direction of the code needs to be changed or not. Besides, it saves a lot of time and effort. Therefore, pair programming is an important step in code review.
More efficient: When two programmers actively engage in developing a single program, the time is managed effectively and the time required for project completion comes down. More time is taken when these programmers work independently on two different programs. Pair programming allows the driver to focus on writing codes without getting involved in other external matters and it leads to improved code quality. The other looks for bugs in the written code. This approach is much efficient than solo programming.
Diffusion of knowledge: Pair programming encourages knowledge sharing among the team. A developer who is unfamiliar with certain aspects of the tasks is guided by the other who knows the task much better. It also provides an opportunity for instant face-to-face discussions and quick learning from the partner. Thus, pairing within the team becomes very effective.
Transfer of skills: When experienced team members are paired with junior developers, skills are transferred within them. Junior developers learn broader skills and advanced techniques from experienced team members. When a team collaborates on a single project, effective communication and teamwork are achieved.
It is evident that pair programming results in better products and ensures timely release of the work. It is part of the day-to-day software development process for many companies. So if you are looking to improve code quality, team up with your colleagues, and start practicing pair programming for complex tasks.