It is known that developers perform well when they are motivated and inspired to complete a project. That means offering the right tools and methods to your developers can lead to better agility and efficient products.
Take application performance monitoring, for example. It monitors the product to catch issues before the product has actually reached the customer.
Similarly, pair programming is a concept that helps boost efficiency. It allows two developers to work together and approach the problem/feature together to find the best solution possible. Two minds trying to solve or implement the problem often results in a better solution as it involves problem discussion and different approaches to attack the problem. While discussing problems aloud, and talking with someone else about it triggers more thoughts in mind, which helps find a better solution then working alone. Let’s explore how pair programming works and what are its benefits.
What is Pair Programming?
It is not hard to guess that pair programming involves making two developers work on one machine. Both developers use one mouse and keyboard. While one developer will write the code, the other will evaluate and help identify the problems in the code.
Both developers may switch roles whenever possible, which means that the developer writing the code will evaluate and point to code problems and the developer checking the code will start writing it.
The main idea about pair programming is that two developers work together to develop a feature. A feature in a software can be developed in various ways. The code can be implemented using best practices, or can choose not to follow it but still make it work. When two developers work together, they tend to discuss the problem, the approach to tackle it and work on the code together. This enables them to follow best practices to develop the feature.
So, from the above, we can deduce that pair programming,
- Enables developers to find better solutions.
- Helps follow best practices to coding.
- Error-free, to some extent
When working together, both developers stay inspired and encouraged to achieve more.
Many developers pair this method with the 52/17 method. In this method, you need to work for 52 minutes without distraction or a break. Once this time period is finished, you can take a break of 17 minutes.
While it may seem illogical to take a break of 17 minutes, this method improves productivity further. It can be tested in various other fields as well.
Whatever method one chooses, the central idea remains the same – two brains working together to implement a feature (solve the problem)
Advantages of Pair Programming
Better solutions is one of the biggest advantages of pair programming, but there are other numerous advantages. Let us have a look at various advantages pair programming has to offer.
1. Fewer Bugs
In pair programming, there are automatically fewer bugs because one developer is checking the code on a consistent basis. Both developers use their shared knowledge and skills to solve issues quickly and move forward. According to this report, pair programming benefits with 15% fewer bugs and errors in the code.
The reason behind this efficiency is simple, the person writing the code has personal biases and their eye is immune to certain errors. Since this developer has coding lines in mind, they might not be able to catch errors or follow best practices. However, another developer is not aware of the mindset of the first developer. This helps the second developer to catch errors, advise best practice, and eliminate them at the earliest.
Let us understand this with a non-coding example:
When you are typing an email, you may find that you have made some errors, such as missed punctuation or prepositions. But, these errors may not be visible to you instantly while writing the email. You may have to read the email again for the same or take help from someone to rectify issues. Similarly, in pair programming, errors are removed easily through the above method.
2. Better Resilience
One of the factors that every company should start considering is what will happen if a developer leaves?
For example, if a person is met with an accident and is on bed rest for a month, does this mean that the project is delayed or lost forever?
A term “Bus factor” is often used to measure the risk associated with a project. According to wikipedia: The “Bus factor” is the minimum number of team members that have to suddenly disappear from a project before the project stalls due to lack of knowledgeable or competent personnel. The lower the bus factor, the higher is the risk of the project being derailed. A high bus factor is considered a good thing, as it will take many developers to disappear from a project to get it derailed/delayed.
When doing pair programming, the knowledge is shared among the developers. Which then reduces the bus factor because in absence of one developer, the other developer can take over and keep the project running smoothly. The risk is reduced and it eliminates unexpected loss of productivity.
If you evaluate the above pointers carefully, it is obvious that the resultant code will be high-quality. There would be fewer errors, advanced security, and clean code.
When more than one person works together on the same problem, the output normally is an optimal solution. When working on the code, it means both the developer will ensure that the best practices and coding guidelines are followed, different code paths are considered thoroughly, and most of the logical cases are discussed, covered and coded properly. This results in better code quality.
This method also discourages any developer from taking shortcuts or using hacks, which creates clean and robust code. Ultimately, the outcome is high-quality only.
4. High Team Morale
While writing code is fun for most of the developers, it can be challenging at times. There are many factors, some known and some unknown, while executing the code written. A code working on one machine, might not work on another machine because of machine environment differences. This can be frustrating for developers as they troubleshoot a non-working code, which apparently should work in ideal situations.
When developers work in pairs, they have someone to listen to the issues in the code and motivate them. No developer is stuck on a problem or running in circles to resolve the issues for long. Since they are working in a pair, the resolution is quick with more minds on the topic. That accounts for high team morale and better job satisfaction.
When developers work together, they also create social bonds with each other. Human beings are social animals, and working together on the same problem creates a sense of companionship, thus boosting morale and satisfaction in the work environment.
5. Reduced Distractions
When developers are working in pairs, the need to check email or chat on WhatsApp is reduced. There’s always someone motivated and focused on the task, which eliminates distraction, helps keep the task at hand prioritized and achieve the results quicker.
In place of checking phones or taking multiple coffee breaks or simply getting distracted too often, developers would be able to achieve more. It may seem like a small thing to do, but developers would end up increasing more hours spent on coding and editing.
6. Quick Onboarding
If you think about it, then pair programming is actually a great way to make developers learn. It is an important learning exercise for both developers.
However, you need to pair an expert and novice developer (in a new project or a new technology) together to see this output.
For example, when onboarding developers on a new project or in a new technology, in place of explaining everything to the developer, you can simply pair them with an expert. This is an amazing learning and onboarding exercise that gives a good kick start to the new developer.
7. Communication and Creativity
With communication, you can encourage creativity. This means continuously communicating with each other helps generate new ideas. These ideas come to mind when working alone, but you don’t have time to discuss them and work upon them. When working in a team, it is easier to strike a conversation, improvise these innovative ideas, and enhance development.
The reason why this is the case is that when you are working alone, your first idea is the best one – at least that’s what we think. But, in a pair, we need to explain why we are choosing a particular solution or route. When we explain this, it becomes clear what our perspective is and what can be done to improve it. This leads to effective solutions.
Another benefit of this communication is better social and interpersonal skills. The developers learn the process of communicating, working together, and sharing information in a simple way.
The best strategy for pair programming is to select your efficient developers and help them work in unison. Offer them one computer and allow them to code and test their project in partnership. Here, you have a choice to take equally skilled developers (Novice-novice and expert-expert) or differently skilled developers (novice-expert). Allow the pair to decide their workflow.
If you want support and guidance for web or app development, Desuvit can help. Over years, we have mastered the art of offering robust and clean code to our clients. Connect with us to know more.
Desuvit is a Norway-born software development company delivering Custom Software Development, Mobile Apps, and Web Applications Development for various verticals and business domains. We offer end-to-end solutions for companies with no software or IT division, Startups, and companies that need to scale their software development efforts but lack the expertise required. We help our clients in growing their businesses so we can grow with them. Some of the technologies we work with: .Net, Azure, Microservices, Azure functions(Serverless computing), React Native, Flutter, React JS, TypeScript, Angular, NServiceBus, Azure Service Bus, Azure Queues, SQL Service, MySQL, Cosmos DB, etc.
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