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Is pair programming practical

Ashok C. Mohan
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Joined: Dec 03, 2003
Posts: 75
I recently had an oppurtunity to learn about agile team techniques. As a programmer in a conventional team for 3 years, I am not able to appreciate some of the aspects of extreme programming and agile techniques. One of them is pair programming. Is it really worth it? How much has the industry accepted this technique?


SCJP 1.4
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
I can't tell you how much Pair Programming is accepted in the industry. Agile development in general is quite wide spread, though - Google is doing it for years, Yahoo is adapting Scrum to remain competitive. Even the British Telecom is going Agile now.

Regarding Pair Programming being practical you need to remember that XP wasn't designed in an ivory tower - it is a collection of practices how they *are* done by effective teams.

We are doing Pair Programming for some years now, and it has become a normal daily practice for us. At first, it wasn't easy to convince management, but after they saw the benefits after a couple of small experiments, we are now totally free doing as much PP as we feel necessary.

What are your doubts?


The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way. - Heraclitus
Ashok C. Mohan
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Joined: Dec 03, 2003
Posts: 75
That was some great news. Can you give me some examples of some companies which implement pair programming? thanks in advance.
Ilja Preuss
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You might find Pair Programming mentioned in some of the case studies at http://www.objectmentor.com/processImprovement/xpCaseStudies
Ashok C. Mohan
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Joined: Dec 03, 2003
Posts: 75
Thankx a ton Ilja. That was really helpful.
Ilja Preuss
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You're welcome!
Scott Ambler
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Joined: Dec 12, 2003
Posts: 608
In the September issue of Dr. Dobb's Journal, online in a week or so, I have survey results indicating that pair programming is very popular. I suspect that it's popular because it works so well. Try it out and see for yourself.

- Scott


<a href="http://www-306.ibm.com/software/rational/bios/ambler.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Scott W. Ambler</a><br />Practice Leader Agile Development, IBM Rational<br /> <br />Now available: <a href="http://www.ambysoft.com/books/refactoringDatabases.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Refactoring Databases: Evolutionary Database Design</a>
Srinivas Ramgopal
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Joined: Aug 06, 2006
Posts: 63
Hi all,

We adopted XP two months ago and the team is getting adjusted to the pair programming concept.

I have a question - how can the individual developer performance be evaluated by management since each task is done by a pair???

Thanks in advance for your valuable time and interest.
[ August 27, 2006: Message edited by: Srinivas Ramgopal ]
Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
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Originally posted by Srinivas Ramgopal:

I have a question - how can the individual developer performance be evaluated by management since each task is done by a pair???


It's hard to do that no matter whether you are pair programming or not.

Unless typically in your environment a programmer who just cares about getting his own tasks done as "efficient" as possible gets better performance reviews than the programmer who takes his time to help coworkers and cares about making the whole team - and thereby the project - succeed.

Mostly gut feel, I'd say.
Vijay Vaddem
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Joined: Feb 13, 2004
Posts: 243
Originally posted by Ashok C.M.:
I recently had an oppurtunity to learn about agile team techniques. As a programmer in a conventional team for 3 years, I am not able to appreciate some of the aspects of extreme programming and agile techniques. One of them is pair programming. Is it really worth it? How much has the industry accepted this technique?


Read this thread to get an idea about the power
of pair programming...

I do practise it at my workplace.... sometime with people very junior to me..... but its a good thing....

and i'm sure you will love it too....
Srinivas Ramgopal
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Joined: Aug 06, 2006
Posts: 63
Hi all,

We started pair programming recently.

Pair programming till now is a mix of negative and positive feelings from the team.

On the negative end, the team thinks that it takes lot of patience to pair with people who are extremely ambitious (who always wants to outbeat everyone and want to do everything on their own).

I wonder if pair programming is practical in certain scenarios?

Thanks in advance.

Regards.
[ September 09, 2006: Message edited by: Srinivas Ramgopal ]
Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Srinivas Ramgopal:

On the negative end, the team thinks that it takes lot of patience to pair with people who are extremely ambitious (who always wants to outbeat everyone and want to do everything on their own).

I wonder if pair programming is practical in certain scenarios?


Are you saying that when you don't do PP, that behaviour isn't a problem?
Srinivas Ramgopal
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Joined: Aug 06, 2006
Posts: 63
From what the team gathered -> when not PP, that attitude does not affect any one as much as during PP.

During PP, since another person spends most of the time together, it is leading to stress and frustration at the end of the day.

Looks like PP demands more of the skills like handling different personalities/programming styles/speed and willingness to embrace the change inorder get the positive outcomes of PP??


Thanks in advance.


Best regards.
Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Srinivas Ramgopal:
From what the team gathered -> when not PP, that attitude does not affect any one as much as during PP.


Well, I'm sure it doesn't affect any one directly, personally. I'd expect it to still significantly affect team work. In fact it sounds a little bit that the "not using PP as a solution" actually means something along the lines of "okay, don't let's work as a team, then".

Looks like PP demands more of the skills like handling different personalities/programming styles/speed and willingness to embrace the change inorder get the positive outcomes of PP??


Pair programming certainly is something that needs to be learned to do it effectively and smoothly.

You might want to take a look at http://www.xprogramming.com/xpmag/Etudes.htm#N84 for some ideas of what you can do to make it a better learning experience, and possibly even some fun on the way.

You might also want to get your hands on a copy of "Pair Programming Illuminated", which discusses such and other problems that can arise when trying PP in depth.
Frank Martinig
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Joined: Oct 12, 2004
Posts: 59
You will find a pair programming critical look in the article "Will Pair Programming Really Improve Your Project?" located at http://www.methodsandtools.com/archive/archive.php?id=10and more resources on it in the Pair Programming section of the Library pages of the Agile Alliance: http://agilealliancebeta.org/article/articles_by_category/35
[ September 18, 2006: Message edited by: Frank Martinig ]

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Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Frank Martinig:
You will find a pair programming critical look in the article "Will Pair Programming Really Improve Your Project?" located at http://www.methodsandtools.com/archive/archive.php?id=10


As a practitioner of pair programming, I find that, while the problems discussed certainly *can* arise, they are given way too much weight in the article compared to the benefits. Not surprisingly, I don't at all agree with their conclusions drawn.
Paul Croarkin
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Joined: Sep 30, 2004
Posts: 106
We are "agile" in our use of pair programming. We use it when we need it. In a planning meeting, some tasks will be taken by individuals and others will be given to a pair. An individual may also say "X is more familiar with this, so let's pair on this". We also frequently pair on the fly.

Physical workspace conditions can make pairing difficult 100% of the time. Often a cube is not big enough for two to share all day, but people are willing to have a bit of discomfort for an hour or so.


Thanks,<br /> <br />Paul Croarkin<br />SCEA 5, SCWCD, SCJP
 
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