Three Breaths

Musings on code, management, and life

Pair Programming Follow-Up

Posted at — Feb 6, 2008

In my last post I described some of my early impressions on my first pair programming experience. Still no complaints, although a few additional observations.

I am surprised at the end of the day to find that I am a little mentally drained and I think that is a good thing. The effort that we are putting in is sustainable, but it is also very focused. There is little down time since at any given moment at least one of us is “on” and good progress is being made. Even when we are at a point where we are stuck the ideas are still flowing and we are both mentally engaged in the process.

Given the focus that we both have on the task, I find it beneficial to take breaks from time to time to check email, grab coffee, and even read a few blog posts. It would be a tough pace to maintain continuously and I think the occasional 5-minute break keeps both of us fresh.

We are doing a good job of share time at the keyboard, and I see a real difference in the approach I take depending on whether I am at the keyboard or not. When I am at the keyboard my focus is on the details of programming: variable names, style, and yes…just being able to type with someone looking over my shoulder. When I am not at the keyboard I seem to see the big picture better: are we repeating code, what is the complexity like, is this code easily testable.

I just started reading James Shore’s The Art of Agile Development and I hope to learn more about the mechanics of pair programming and tips/techniques to be more successful at it. Mike and I are pairing well together (I think), but I am also looking forward to pairing with someone else on our next iteration , getting a better understanding of how they work and how we can work together.

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