Categories: Industry Trends

Tags: Developers, Development, Pair Programming, Programming, Programming Strategy

Pair Programming: What is it and How is it Useful?

As the name suggests, pair programming is when two developers work on the same machine. Each one has a keyboard and mouse. One programmer acts as the driver, coding, while the other serves as an observer, reviewing the code, proofreading it, and checking for spelling errors, as well as determining the next steps. These roles can be switched at any moment, and the driver becomes the observer, and vice versa.

There are several compelling reasons to consider this strategy. Two heads are better than one, and if the driver encounters a problem in the code, two minds will solve it.

Pros and Cons

Some think that the pair programming approach slows down project completion time, because you are essentially assigning two programmers to develop one program instead of making them work independently on two different programs. However, research has shown that two programmers working on the same program are only 15% slower than when those programmers work independently, not the anticipated 50%.

Fewer coding errors occur. Since another programmer reviews your work, it leads to better software. In fact, earlier studies have shown a 15% reduction in errors compared to code written by individual programmers. Additionally, it allows the driver to focus on the code while the other deals with external issues or interruptions.

An effective way to share knowledge. It allows programmers to receive instant face-to-face instructions, which is much better than online tutorials and faster than searching for resources on the Internet. Furthermore, you can learn better from your partner, especially in areas that may be unfamiliar to you. Developers can also gain advanced experience and learn best practices from more experienced programmers. This can also facilitate mentoring relationships between two programmers.

How it Works

The best approach to pair programming is to bring two programmers together at one computer. Make them work together to design, code, and then test their code in a true spirit of partnership.

Although the ideal setup should involve two programmers with similar qualifications (expert-expert or novice-novice), you can also use pair programming for educational purposes (expert-novice). The pair should have the flexibility to decide how to divide the work, and it’s recommended to switch roles frequently.

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