The benefits of pair programming
Pair programming is one of code writing techniques when two developers solve the same problem. This approach is effective in both learning and practice. There are two options:
Sequential programming. There is a division into a master and a slave. The first one writes the code, the second one checks it for errors and completeness. After 30−60 minutes, they change. In training, it is similar: one person studies a topic, retold a second person, listens to and answers questions. As a result, the information is absorbed better without gaps.
Parallel programming. The practice of learning when an experienced developer and a beginner write code at the same time. Then both source codes fall into the hands of the second, he searches for inaccuracies and incomprehensibility in them.
Pair programming has its advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantages include loss of concentration in solving one problem and an increase in the planned development period. The benefits are much more, further about them.
The first and main task of pair programming is to create high-quality code that contains a minimum of errors. As a rule, one developer, solving a complex task, misses some conditions, allows typos and inaccuracies. Testing and even tests are not always able to identify them, because you have to work with all the code in its entirety.
A couple of programmers cope with the task more efficiently. Everyone tries to find flaws in the code of the other, while not allowing criticism in their part. As a result, a code is often obtained that is ready to be issued without additional checks.
Theoretically, two programmers who solve the same problem should delay development twice. That is why more time is always allocated to the pairing method than to the standard one. In practice, there is no loss in performance at all, and if we take into account the revision cycles, a substantial gain in time.
In addition to double control and maximum concentration, there is also a change of shifts factor. Suppose programmers agreed to change roles every hour. This means that none of them will make a pause or smoke breaks during this time. That is, programmers, control not only the code of each other but also comply with labour discipline.
Sequential and especially parallel programming helps integrate new employees into the team. Communication takes place in a non-stop mode, while not harming the workflow.
The introduction of such practices in the existing team is also a plus because, in addition to communication, pair programming is also a shared responsibility and lack of standard complaints about the quality of a colleague’s code.
Programmers work in pairs, but the leader-student hierarchy is still preserved. With equal positions, this happens in shifts, with different positions – with a clear dominance of the senior at the control stage.
This allows you to strengthen the discipline in the team, to build a clear hierarchy by the job, age and knowledge. For small and young companies, this is important.
A beginner programmer always tries to surpass his experienced colleague:
asks uncomfortable questions;
tries to take into account more nuances in the code;
looking for alternative solutions.
Of course, they carefully listen and try to remember the information.
Bottom line: an experienced employee tightens theory and broadens the mind, a beginner learns faster and more efficiently.
All the factors described lead to financial gain for the employer. Judge for yourself: beginners quickly join the team and benefit, experienced programmers do not relax, nor separate, performance does not fall.
However, you should not abuse the set programming. On a continuous basis, the method manages to lose effectiveness due to habituation:
workers are looking for only typical errors;
take for granted the program code of the more experienced creator;
do not look for alternative solutions for pseudo-economy of time;
the change occurs not once every 30–120 minutes, but once every 4 or 7 hours, which reduces the efficiency of the technique.
Make use of pair programming wisely and your code will be clean and working.