Pair programming as it relates to software development is a common practice in many agile work environments. The pair programming technique involves two developers working on a single workstation while communicating with each other to handle a coding project. This article explains how pair programming is a concept that originated from Extreme Programming (XP), which focuses on developing higher-quality software and improving the quality of life for development team members.
The author also goes further into explaining the connection between pair programming, an agile work environment, and agile web development. Based on the explanation in this piece, we see clearly how all three concepts work together to encourage collaboration and teamwork in a remote, on-site, or hybrid workspace. Finally, we look into some main reasons pair programming is highly beneficial for web or software development.
Software engineering practices like code reviews, iterative loops, error checking, fast feedback, and linting have greatly improved the quality of code developers produce. Every developer dreams of fully accessing all the software engineering practices while simultaneously typing code line by line. Thankfully, that dream can become a reality with pair programming.
Pair programming is a common technique in many agile work environments. The practice involves two developers sharing a single workstation and openly communicating with each other to tackle a coding task. The pair programming technique originated from Extreme Programming (XP), where two developers work together on one computer.
What is Extreme Programming (XP)?
In simple terms, Extreme Programming is an agile software development process focused on developing higher-quality software and improving the quality of life for the development team members. Before going into the crux of the subject matter, let us briefly explain the concepts of an Agile work environment, Agile web development, and some Agile frameworks related to pair programming.
What is an Agile Work Environment?
Simply put, an Agile work environment is a type of workplace that gives room for complete flexibility. Compared to the traditional office where you’re restricted to your desk, an Agile working environment provides room for workers to utilize any space around the office based on their needs at that moment. One organization that has adopted the concept of an Agile work environment is Google. For example, Google has a Mountain View office with flexible workspaces and a lot of space for productive collaboration. Less space is allocated to individual employees, and a majority of the workspace was designed around collective teams. Therefore, team members have a positive, exciting workspace that encourages flexibility and supports collective value creation.
In relation to pair programming, an Agile work environment endorses collaboration and teamwork, whether remotely, on-site, or in a hybrid workspace.
What is Agile Web Development, and how does it relate to Pair Programming?
In Agile web development, cross-functional team members are involved in the continuous development and improvement of software solutions. It happens as a rationalized approach that ensures flexible adjustments are made effectively.
There are different workflows or processes imbibed in the Agile web development process. Each is distinct in its results and is best suited for specific types of tech projects.
Below are some of the most well-known Agile frameworks that encourage pair programming in web development:
- Lean software development
- Dynamic systems development method
- Feature-driven development
All the frameworks listed above have been formulated to adapt easily to change while delivering efficient software for clients. Nonetheless, each method varies in how it defines the different stages of web development.
Reasons Why Pair Programming is Important in Web Development
There are many reasons why pair programming is highly beneficial for web development, and we will highlight the top 5.
1. Improves Efficiency
Contrary to popular opinion, pair programming does not slow down the completion of a project because two programmers or developers are involved. Instead, it makes the coding process more efficient because two pairs of eyes on a project make it easier to find mistakes. Sharing ideas and discussing solutions out loud makes it possible for quick problem resolutions, improves technical skills and team communication, and makes coding an enjoyable experience in the workplace.
2. Better Code Quality & Results
When developers work in pairs, they are more likely to discover issues with code quality faster. For example, while the driver focuses on writing the code, the navigator thinks freely about the style and function of the code. Developers working in pairs are more consistent in following code quality standards.
Research has also proven that pair programming results in 15% fewer bugs than single programming code. When two programmers work hand in hand, they look out for each other and ensure the code produced is of high quality.
3. Transfer of Knowledge
Pair programming is a fantastic opportunity for junior programmers or developers to learn faster from senior programmers. By watching and participating, junior developers can understand the complex processes involved in software development. Working with a teammate can also expose developers to different problem-solving techniques. If one developer or programmer follows a different approach to solving a particular issue, pair programming exposes the co-developer to a new solution.
4. Builds a Great Team
Communication via pair programming often creates a team with incredible personal chemistry and a unique team identity. It’s no news that positive cultural experiences are connected to higher employee satisfaction rates. Therefore, pair programming presents a distinct advantage in an industry where skill/talent is expensive and scarce.
5. Develops Social or Interpersonal Skills
Collaborating on projects makes team members see the value in communication. Pair programming is a fantastic way to develop excellent social and communication skills among team members.
Any work environment can adopt pair programming provided the right tools are implemented to keep things organized. For a fully remote organization like Fetchly Labs
, pair programming is a major practice that ensures proper checks and balances to create clean codes.
Here’s what our full-stack developer “Esmanhoto” has to say about his experience with pair programming at Fetchly Labs:
“Pair programming has been a major part of my journey in Fetchly. It is a great learning opportunity as I experience other ways of thinking and approaching a problem. As a byproduct, we have cleaner and better-written code. I feel that combining ideas from both developers usually leads to better results and fewer errors. While one developer is focused on writing the code itself, using some processing capacity on issues such as syntax and variable naming, the other developer is free to think about the process as a whole. Together, both programmers explore the possibility of connections and improvements. When programming, there are multiple ways of getting the desired outcome, and having two minds tackling the issue increases the chances of coming up with a better solution, and that might mean a cleaner code, a more efficient one, or even finding what mathematicians love to describe as a more "elegant solution." And who wouldn't want that?”
Developers perform their best work when they are motivated and have access to all the necessary tools and resources. Pair programming is an excellent resource for developers because it allows them to learn, grow, and create high-quality software for clients. Tech businesses that hope to maintain relevance in the coming years should invest in pair programming.
*This is not the official Fetchly opinion but the opinion of the writer who is employed by Fetchly*