10 ways to make pair programming more effective

2020-12-11 10:15:08
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Summary : If you recall your experience of pair programming, how many times have you felt your efficiency and ability improved? How many times have you bothered about unpleasant experiences?

10 ways to make pair programming more effective

If you recall your experience of pair programming, how many times have you felt your efficiency and ability improved? How many times have you bothered about unpleasant experiences?

The benefits of pair programming for software development teams (regardless of whether they adopt agile processes) are well known, but effective implementation of pair programming requires not only team members to believe in the benefits of pair programming, but more importantly, they must devote themselves Invest.

How can we make pair programming more effective? Just because two people complete a task together does not mean that it is an effective pairing experience. In addition to completing tasks, pair programming is also a good opportunity to enhance the relationship between you and other team members. You can learn from each other not only about technology but also about the culture of each other's countries and nations. You can also understand their pursuit, why they are full of fighting spirit, and why they are downcast.

Marcos Briseno, a ThoughtWorker in Brazil, mentioned the challenges encountered in pair programming in a blog post:

Programming environment: use the same hardware and software in pair programming
Fatigue: Everyone in pair programming must maintain a high level of concentration
Self-esteem: When your ideas are not accepted, you need to remain modest and avoid unnecessary quarrels
Well, I don’t have any panacea that can make pairing a more magical experience, but here are a few suggestions so that everyone can better face the challenges mentioned by Marcos:

#1-Don't let one person occupy the keyboard
In pair programming, the person more familiar with the development environment often controls the keyboard for a long time. The other party also felt that it would slow down the progress if he wrote the code. The disadvantage of this is that when the task is over, the person who is not familiar with the development environment has not made much progress, and he is still unfamiliar with the development environment. In this regard, our solution is to set an alarm clock, exchange when the time is up, and both parties take turns writing codes.

#2-To co-manage attention
For many reasons, one person in a pair may be able to concentrate more than the other. When this happens, if you are the one who can concentrate, you should stop and discuss the issue with the other party. It may take a long time for your significant other to regain his/her attention, and you may lose attention. Tips such as the Pomodoro Technique can help improve concentration, but it is best to discuss with the other party to find the best solution.

#3-Don't work alone
Sometimes your significant other needs to leave for a while. At this time, you have to stop the work at hand and try to wait for her/him/it to come back. While waiting, you can do other things that are beneficial to the project or company, or you can take care of your own chores. Of course, sometimes it depends on the specific situation. If the situation is urgent and you can't stop, then when your significant other comes back, you have to explain clearly what you did alone.

#4-Have work and rest
Concentration is important when working, but the excessive concentration is harmful. After all, we are not robots, and no one can work for eight hours without rest. So we still need intermittent rest time. Don't think about work at all during the break, and try to keep two people together, such as discussing a topic that everyone cares about, playing games together, drinking a cup of coffee, and so on.

#5-Celebrate your achievements!
At the end of each stage of the mission, or at the end of each pairing, you should review your achievements carefully and give yourself a little motivation. Celebrate! It is also good to share your results with other colleagues.

#6-Keep in sync with your partner
Naturally, sometimes one person understands the task more deeply than the other. This may cause the two people's rhythm to be out of sync, and even an unpleasant experience. If you know more, you have to be aware of this in time, control your rhythm, and let your companions keep up. If necessary, stop what you are doing and explain it well. Similarly, if you are the one who can't keep up, you should bring it up in time. Let your partner slow down and explain to you exactly what he/she is doing and why. Remember, communication is a must.

#7-Use appropriate communication methods
When communicating, use a language that two people who pair programming can understand. It's hard to imagine that you can understand a sentence accurately if you don't even know the words in the sentence. So, please try to use simple and straightforward descriptions. If it helps, you might as well draw your thoughts on paper. You can also ask someone to help if he can explain the problem more clearly.

#8-Learn to deal with differences
In the process of pair programming, there are often differences. When facing disagreements, both parties should first listen carefully to the other's point of view, and then use a calm and respectful tone to express their views. At this time, the most taboo is blind confidence. You have to try to see the problem from the other person's point of view, this will let you discover what you missed. Don't turn this into a battle of who is right and who is wrong, and you don't need to be the winner in every debate. If there is really no way for both parties to reach a consensus, then try to find other colleagues to help make a choice.

#9-To be both a student and a teacher
Even if you have just joined a new project and don’t know much, you can make your own contribution immediately. Similarly, if you pair up with a newbie who has just joined the project, you should also leave room for him/her to use his abilities. Ask more heuristic questions, explain your tasks step by step, and let your partner find their own solutions in a subtle way. At this point, you need to play the role of a mentor and helpful friend.

#10-Provide and receive feedback in a timely manner
At the end of the pairing, you must seize the opportunity to give the other party some opinions and suggestions. After a while, your impression will be blurred. Don't be too formal, 15 to 30 minutes is enough. You can comment on how it feels to be paired with him/her, and what he/she needs to maintain or improve. If you are in a hurry, at least you have to record your thoughts, and then wait for a suitable opportunity to convey to your companions.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the tips I provide here are all the suggestions I received when pairing programming with other ThoughtWorker. These are not golden rules, just take it as my advice to you.

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