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XP Practice: Pair programming

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

Pair Programming Everywhere?

April 20, 2008 by Isaac Sacolick (not verified), 6 years 21 weeks ago
Comment id: 1513

Still looking for some good guidelines or better yet, metrics on when to apply pair programming. I have an approach published at CtoToDevelopers

Dear Artem, I agree with

August 8, 2008 by Rajagopal Yendluri (not verified), 6 years 5 weeks ago
Comment id: 1748

Dear Artem,

I agree with your post, but while paring instead of paring the "Valuable Engineers" / Most Experience engineers, i think it's better if we pair a "Entry Level Engineer" with "Experience Engineer" the result is good in a way that the Junior Engineer will learn lot of things like best practices, etc., from the Sr Engineer.

Paring 2 Sr Engineers will help when one is stuggling to solve the probelm, so that the other one will look the problem in a different perspective.

Any Comments !!!!

Regards,
Rajagopal Yendluri(Raj)

Indeed, pair programming is

August 9, 2008 by Artem, 6 years 5 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.

Agree with you.. what's

August 14, 2008 by Rajagopal Yendluri (not verified), 6 years 4 weeks ago
Comment id: 1763

Agree with you.. what's about the Less Exp and More Exp Pairing.. i am more interested to know on this..

I tried pairing More Exp with Less Exp .. succeeded some entend..

I Strongly believe that in terms of writing the good code(bug free / performance / standards) and improving the analytical skills for Less exp it helps alot

Would like to know your views on this..

Regards,
Rajagopal Yendluri(Raj)

Analytical skills help often

August 14, 2008 by Artem, 6 years 4 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.

Pair programming slows development down

April 19, 2010 by Felipe Balbi (not verified), 4 years 21 weeks ago
Comment id: 6370

To me, pair programming slows development down. It always goes down to a mentor helping the pupil and that's exactly what eXtreme Programming wants to avoid. The only way to get it working is if both developers are actually at the same level of expertise on that particular subject.

In my team we use peer review on a mailing list and that works quite well. More experienced developers can comment on the patches and give better solutions, which will in turn generate a discussion on that subject and there you have the knowledge transfer we need. Besides, a mailing list has archives, which will guarantee the knowledge (and discussion for what matters) won't get lost.

The only thing people should be aware and always keep in mind is that we're reviewing the code, not particularly that person's coding skills.

Pair programming is one of

December 11, 2012 by 4insure (not verified), 1 year 39 weeks ago
Comment id: 25069

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.

To me, pair programming slows

January 15, 2013 by Anonymous (not verified), 1 year 34 weeks ago
Comment id: 25493

To me, pair programming slows development down. It always goes down to a mentor helping the pupil and that's exactly what eXtreme Programming wants to avoid. The only way to get it working is if both developers are actually at the same level of expertise on that particular subject.
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