* Posts by Simon Jones

1 post • joined 13 Feb 2007

The perils of pair programming

Simon Jones

Much more importantly

I'm a bit bored today (a common feeling between Monday and Friday), and there's nothing I like better than reading a bit of 'pair-bashing' when I'm in such a mood.

But....why is everyone so obsessed with 'productivity', 'speed and quality', 'rock star coding'.. etc etc...?

Do you actually *want* to be doing this for a living? Really?

Frankly, unless you are very, very lucky... or very, very puritanical then working as a developer in an IT department is probably not your idea of paradise. (Mine is snoozing in front of the cricket somewhere in the West Indies with a large rum and coke. Why not take a moment and have a think about what yours is...go on... just stare out of the window).

So, with this in mind and as a self-confessed idler, can I point out some of the many, oft-missed benefits of pairing.

- You get to have a natter all day long. What could be better than the constant interchange of ideas (reasonable or otherwise) with ones peers? They call conversation an 'art' for good reason. I prefer to share drink my pint in good company, why would I not want to do so at work? And whats more you get to call this 'design'! For some reason you pair-bashers all seem obssessed with 'doing'... give me 'thinking' any day...

- You get to have a snooze at your desk safe in the knowledge that your pair can cover for you and alert you to possible detection. This, incidentally, also helps satisfy the need for some developers to 'do their own thing'. Fine, I say... you code, I'll have a nap... wake me up when your done (preferably with a cup of tea). Its high time the nap was reclaimed as a worker right!

- You can work with a hangover. I drink a lot... I love to drink... I occassionally find typing and syntactical thoughts difficult when I'm nursing one of my hangovers. Having a pair allows me to at least do *something* useful... Of course this argument assumes only one drunk at a time. Hmmm...note to self.

- If you're really lucky you may end up pairing with the most attractive member of the opposite sex on the team. Believe me that makes a for a really pleasant day... In fact, I met my current squeeze on an XP project doing just that... so thanks for the warning Kent, but I disagree... I'm very positive about personal relationships on project...don't fight it, just find a room at lunchtime :)

- Its a well known fact that two people pairing are more productive than two individuals (ok, contentious, but let it ride)... the good news is that you could be using this added capacity to do less work and more loafing!...

- If you fancy a good skive then what you really need is a slightly higher estimate for your next story. A good pairer can always provide that nod and grim face of affirmation that is so valuable when explaining the additional effort to the customer.... if possible, sucking teeth at the same time can really add some dramatic impact.

So stop bashing pairing. It helps make this awful, industrial, wage-slavery more bearable...

Pairing is your revolutionary duty! Down with the Puritans and coding Rock-Stars!

(hey, this just took me 20 minutes to write... 20 valuable mintues loafing... and directly attributable to pair programming. I owe Kent a pint)

-Simon

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