Pair Programming, how good it is?

Sep 05 2018

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2 min read
Working solo in software development is never a good idea. The phrase ‘Two heads are better than one’ is very true as complex problems can be solved quickly and easily as a team. In standard software development, pair programming can help complete the boring and difficult tasks in less time and strengthen the team spirit. Not to mention the fun, knowledge sharing and motivation facilitated during these sessions. Although pair programming is not ideal for all the aspects of programming, it can be implemented in areas that require collaboration, innovation and identifying of errors the most.
Pair programming - Two programmers sharing one workstation
Pair programming is an agile development methodology that involves two programmers sharing one workstation

An intro to Pair programming

Pair programming is an agile development methodology that involves two programmers sharing one workstation. Just like other agile techniques such as extreme programming, scrum and lean development, pair programming ensures effective team collaboration and delivers better results. Developers can benefit from this arrangement greatly through continuous learning from the team members.

In pair programming, two programmers work together. The developer who writes the code is known as the 'Driver', and the one who reviews the written code is called the 'Observer' or 'Navigator'. The observer is also the one who comes up with ideas for improvement. The two programmers switch roles whenever required. Pair programming is a common practice in the software development process.

Now the next question is, is it really good?

Advantages of Pair programming

Knowledge sharing is one of the important advantages of practising pair programming. Developers of different experience and skill set can learn from each other during the process. It is one of the best ways to learn new concepts, ideas and it allows the developers professional growth. Writing code and reviewing it goes had to hand, and therefore identification of errors and rectifying them can be easily done. Improved attention and focus are achieved through pair programming, as distractions are minimized when people are working together on the same task. This is very important especially for complex and large projects. More work is done without compromising on quality.

Agile development technique is all about developing a self-organized team and inculcating skills like effective communication, tolerance, respect and learning. Pair programming makes this possible.

Increased code quality is the result of programming out loud. It provides better articulation of the complexities and hidden coding errors. The developers need not wait until the later development stages to solve them. As a result, the final code will have fewer edits. All this saves a lot of time and money.

To understand how much money and time you have saved, you would need to calculate different aspects like the development time, fixing time, employee/User satisfaction levels and the economic value of the project.

The shortcomings

The result of pair programming differs with each company. The most common disadvantages of pair programming mentioned here. By pairing the wrong developers at the wrong time it can do more harm than good. One person’s shortcomings may disrupt the effectiveness of the entire process. Pair programming may also cause loss of confidence among developers, lack of code ownership and regular distractions.

It is better to say that the outcome in pair programming really depends on the process itself and how well it is implemented.

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