Coding Software Engineering Work Psychology

Rule of Two for Pair Programming

Video Comment

SidiousVaderPromo“Always two there are. No more, no less. A master and an apprentice.” – Yoda

See a nice video on Pair Programming and Rule of Two. Pair work is not only a programming practice, but is a standard military practice ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wingman and https://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taistelijapari ) can be applied to any knowledge work such as sales and accounting, too.

Pair Programming is a agile practice with 2 people in front of 1 computer and keyboard. There are 2 roles: the Navigator one tells what to do, the Driver holds the keyboard and writes (“one police man can read, the other can write”). You switch the roles frequently. Seniors should be paired with Juniors, Customers with Coders and Sysadmins with Frontend Developers.

Pair Programming is a controversial practice where doing pair programming wrong is worse than not doing it at all. There is a vast amounts of scientific findings related to pair programming:

Programmers working in pairs usually produce shorter programs, with better designs and fewer bugs, than programmers working alone. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pair_programming

  • Pairs typically consider more design alternatives than programmers working solo, and arrive at simpler, more-maintainable designs; they also catch design defects early.
  • Pairs usually complete work faster than one programmer assigned to the same task (but it takes 2x the effort, but this is better than well compensated by the improved productivity)
  • Programmers are less likely to skip writing unit tests, spend time web-surfing or on personal email
  • Additional benefits reported include increased morale of the team.

While Pair Programming works for the Sith, it is known to be kryptonite for

  • incompetent introverts
  • control freaks
  • super hero programmers
  • cowboy coders

See http://blogs.atlassian.com/2009/06/pair_programming_is_kryptonite/

More pair programming information is available from

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