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XP Practice: Pair programming

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April 18, 2008 by Artem Marchenko

Pair programming is one of the most known Extreme Programming practices. In essence it means creating the code in pairs trying to get multiple perspectives on the code created. One of the participants, called driver, types the code and thinks about the low level details. Another one, called navigator, thinks about what the typed code is for. The participants periodically switch roles. The definition of "low level" depends on the skills of the concrete pair and their experience in the subject area. For example, when using test-driven development the driver might be focused on the writing the production code, while the navigator could be thinking about how the next unit test should look like in order to change the system architecture in the desired direction.

In my own practice I found that besides leading to better quality because of continuous code review, pair programming is a very efficient tool for rapid competence transfer and for synchronizing the people views on both the tasks and the solutions. Even if the team is not regularly doing par programming, pairing for some time in the beginning of the project or after the major decisions, helps aligning the team members understanding. Also being paired with the more experienced developer, typing under his governance and seeing which low level tricks he uses is a very efficient way to learn and align the team standards for coding.

Further links

This page is a part of the Extreme Programming overview

About the Author: As the Editor-in-Chief for AgileSoftwareDevelopment.com, Artem is charged with overseeing the direction for content, advertising, and the overall management of the site. Nowadays in his day life, Artem is a product manager in a global telecommunication company where he leads the development of a product developed in extremely distributed environment. Artem has been applying Agile and researching Agile since 2005. Contact Artem

Comments

Indeed, pair programming is

August 9, 2008 by Artem, 8 years 3 weeks ago
Comment id: 1753

Indeed, pair programming is an efficient knowledge transfer tool and can accelerate learning much irregardless of whether you teach a junior person or senior person who is just new to the domain and the team.

Analytical skills help often

August 14, 2008 by Artem, 8 years 2 weeks ago
Comment id: 1764

Well, analytical skills are helpful for programmers in general ;) Pairing is quite an efficient learning tool in general, but of course some people are just "chemically incompatible" and can hardly be paired.

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