Pair Programming: What It Is, Why People Use It, and How You Can Learn To Pair Program

Pair Programming: What It Is, Why People Use It, and How You Can Learn To Pair Program

It simply points to the workspace for both the programmers where they can sit next to each other, orienting the same computer. All in all, combining two heads through pair programming lets you see beyond the problem at hand. It allows you to predict the future and come up with better and sustainable solutions. is a leading authority on technology, delivering lab-based, independent reviews of the latest products and services. Our expert industry analysis and practical solutions help you make better buying decisions and get more from technology.

A study proposed by an online survey stated that 15% fewer bugs are written by pair programmers than solo programmers. Plus, pair programming lets the driver stay focused on the code without worrying about external interruptions or matters. By doing frequent pair programming sessions with them straight from the beginning, you’re able to inculcate a clear vision in them on how components of your project interconnect.

Ways to Connect With the Codecademy Community

You can find a detailed guide to how developers look at pair programming in the article below. If you’re taking one of our classes, consider connecting with other students in our forums or on Discord. You can virtually pair program, and while it has a few more hurdles than in-person pair programming, it can still be beneficial. Having someone quality checking the code as it’s being written will improve accuracy. Issues and bugs can be caught immediately rather than down the road when it’s harder to debug. Junior/junior also works well as they can both bring different perspectives and knowledge to the task, especially if there is a senior to call on for occasional help/guidance.

Before starting a pair programming session, discuss and align the goals and objectives of the task at hand. Set clear milestones and prioritize tasks to maintain focus and progress. Mutual respect and empathy are crucial for successful pair programming. Build a supportive and non-judgmental environment that encourages collaboration and learning.

Increased Collaboration and Communication

Pairing sessions can accelerate Agile delivery, because teammates work together to find the best solutions to several challenges. Pair programming is a practice in agile software development where two programmers share a workstation. One programmer (called the driver) writes the code while the other (the observer) watches, reviews, and provides guidance.

pair programming definition

The fundamental element of pair programming is working together with your pair. When a task is accepted, it needs to be shared between both of the people working on it, and they both need to be fully engaged in the task while they’re pairing on it. That means that they both need to understand the requirements the same way, and work together to come to a shared understanding of how they want to go about meeting them. So what does it take for two developers working together to achieve the productivity and quality improvements that come from pairing? It’s mostly a matter of learning how to work collaboratively, which is not necessarily the way most of us learned to code. How could it be more productive to take two programmers who were previously working on separate projects and have them work together on a single project?

What Is Pair Programming?

It is one of the most underrated techniques where an individual can learn fast and apply the learned concepts without worrying about the drawbacks. Pair programming introduced itself quite a long time ago but was not considered until it became too late. Thus, big companies often push their developers for pair programming rather than sit and code alone. As we saw in this article, pair programming, though it suffers from some disadvantages, should be implemented quite often because research has been carried out on pair programming. The proverb “two is better than one” beholds the power of pair programming. On the other hand, pair programming, if compared to code review, is like having a constant companion who constantly reviews your code while you write.

But it’s ok, the promise is a healthier environment with empathetic colleagues who care about the team and share the same goal, succeeding together. The last benefit is inherent to the nature of pair programming and the social dynamics it implies. A development team like many others is subject to competition among members. Competition can be healthy as it enables developers to set personal objectives and excel in their work. Pair programming forces you to stay focus together and prevents you from getting stuck on minor details for too long.

Clearly Define Roles

Additionally, pairing programmers to work together can increase the team’s cohesion, trust, and respect. Over time, this increased sense of teamwork can improve the overall quality of the programming department’s output. Imagine pairing a coder new to the team with another programmer who knows the subject matter well. Working directly alongside the knowledgeable programmer, the other coder will gain expertise more quickly than by working on tasks alone. As the Agile Alliance points out, another benefit of pair programming is that it leads to better diffusion of knowledge across the development team. The most common skill combination is an expert programmer working with a less experienced person.

  • Nevertheless, an organization should keep in mind that this software development approach will require a higher budget.
  • Another case where pair programming sets a milestone is that both the fellow programmers can learn different things, especially for those areas where the other may not have any knowledge.
  • If you’re taking one of our classes, consider connecting with other students in our forums or on Discord.
  • As you can see from the video, pair programming involves two programmers working in tandem, in specific roles of driver and navigator, to work more quickly and to share knowledge.
  • As soon as a pair accepts a story to work on, they should be able to define how they will know they are done and how they’re going to prove it.
  • Similarly, if you’re not driving at the keyboard and you’re not all that familiar with the code, it’s easy to find your mind wandering back to your phone, your email, and your other tasks.

You then discuss together what the best approach or workaround could be. This can be achieved using a variety of tactics and one special methodology is pair programming. At a higher level, once you start pairing with another developer, you’re going to notice some differences in the ways you each approach your tasks. One of you might know some fancy keyboard shortcuts, have some special aliases for common shell commands, or prefer to use a specific IDE because of its unique features. In terms of the code itself, you may also each have a different implicit understanding about how variables are named, how to structure a commit message, when to use comments, etc. This approach is known as behavior-driven development, and while it’s not part of the definition of pair programming, it harmonizes beautifully, along with test-driven development.

Disadvantages of pair programming

People who haven’t tried pair programming have a vision that pair programming might double the cost and time of the project because it takes two programmers. Based on researches carried out through surveys and practices, it has been found that pair programming, if done right bitbucket jenkins integration results speed up the coding to about 15%. It also enhances the code quality by having fewer bugs, thereby stopping the chances of redoing the same task or repeatedly repeating the code review process. Pair programming is an agile technique that comes with many benefits.

pair programming definition

At times, a solo developer gets frustrated with using the same design pattern to solve complex and hypothetical codes that are too generic for him. Often, he declines the power of collaborating because he may need some space to think better. On a personal plan, this may seem right, but in general, it is not fruitful for the long run. Apart from the retention rate, fewer mistakes are introduced in pair programming if the programmer is not in the state of being fired. Both the fellow programmers can thus have continuous attrition and code reviews. It can also be said that the developer knows more people who can help them know how the program runs because if one of the programmers leaves the company, it will not kill the project.


Pair programming also enhances collaboration between the two developers. It helps them to work on the same codebase and share their knowledge and skills which leads to better problem-solving. It also solves the communication gap between colleagues as it promotes communication allowing for quick and easy information sharing. In Pair programming two software developers share a single workstation and work together to develop a single feature. Over in engineering, the Frontend team has also been experimenting with how to support
pair programming.

As the name implies, pair programming can be considered as two individuals and one machine. Precisely, it is the practice of having two developers and one working machine so that both the individuals can combine and collaborate to work on one aspect. In this practice, both the individuals have one keyboard and a mouse. One programmer is supposed to code, and the other programmer is told to observe the code.

There are several reasons that some agile development organizations choose to implement the pair programming approach. This video is a more detailed look at how the pair programming process works and will show you how the driver and navigator work together over the course of an hour. Pair programming is also used in educational contexts by coding students. Take a look at this post and this one to learn about how pair programming specifically benefits students. Forming the best approach to a problem adds an extra layer of complexity and requires an extensive amount of time and thought. Ideally, programmers will have enough time to work on solo and pair-programming tasks.

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