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Pair Programming


In this day & age, the advent of new and advancing techniques and methodologies is revolutionizing the realm of software development. Software engineers all around the world are adopting new methods for development, programming as well as testing, which simplify the process and make it even more effective. Pair programming is among these newly adopted techniques, which involves two developers/programmers with proficient knowledge of their specified field. Therefore, to elaborate more on the same, following is a discussion on pair programming.

What is Pair Programming?

As suggested by the name, pair programming involves two programmers who share a single workstation, and collaborate their efforts to write and test code. A type of agile software development technique, pair programming originates from extreme programming (XP), which is a software development methodology that is used to improve the quality and responsiveness of the software as per the changing requirements of the client. As stated before, pair programming involves two programmers who are an integral part of the whole process.

In this technique, one software programmer plays the role of the ‘driver’ and is responsible for controlling the keyboard & mouse for writing the code. Moreover, the driver plans the process of and takes necessary actions to fulfil them, while communicating it to the other member. On the other hand, the other programmer serves the role of the ‘navigator’ and takes up the task of reviewing the code written by the former programmer. The navigator provides tactical and analytical feedbacks based on the observations made by him/her during process. These roles are regularly traded by the programmers, which further helps them to validate the quality of the whole process.

Features of Pair Programming:

Pair programming is an extremely advantageous programming technique, which offers developers an effective way of developing a software with unique and innovative features. The features of this technique are several, some of which are described below:

  • It is an agile technique.
  • Involves a driver and navigator for writing and testing code.
  • Follows a four eye principle, where two individuals continuously monitor the work that is being performed.
  • The programmers involved in the process are from the same scrum team.
  • Navigator has a crucial role to play as s/he decides the strategic direction of the work and offers ideas for improvements.
  • Requires programmers soft and hard skills to write and test code.
  • This programming technique originates from extreme programming.
  • Helps develop a quality software product with effective features and components.

Advantages of Pair Programming:

Pair programming can be termed as one of the most beneficial way of coding and programming, as it involves two experienced and talented individuals who collaborate their skills and expertise to ensure the quality of the software under development. With the help of this method, programmers can increase the speed of writing effective codes, which can then be tested and implemented by the other members of the team. Other advantages of this method are:

  1. Fewer Coding Mistakes: As the codes are reviewed by programmers continuously the possibilities of finding errors increases tenfold. Moreover, it leads to clearer articulation of the complexities and hidden details in coding tasks, which further reduce the risks of errors.
  2. Improves Quality: Allows programmers to create more efficient codes with fewer coding mistakes, which helps them increase the code quality as well as the quality of the software product.
  3. Offers Satisfactions: Pair programming is usually considered by engineers to be more engaging than programming alone. Hence, they are more confident about the results & solutions they come up with while working in pairs than while working individually.
  4. Mentoring & Learning: This method offers an effective scenario for senior programmers and engineers to develop mentoring skills and provides their juniors an opportunity to learn from experienced and skilled engineers. Moreover, the involved individuals can use the opportunity to exchange their skills and learn new ways from one another.
  5. Enhances Interpersonal Skills: With the assistance of this method the involved members can improve their interpersonal skills, as working in collaboration helps them appreciate the value of teamwork and communication.
  6. Economical: This is the biggest advantage of pair programming. As this method reduces the possibility of errors and defects impeccably it helps save time & cost of testing as well as software development.

Challenges of Pair Programming:

Though, pair programming offers various advantages there are yet some challenges of this technique that make it quite difficult to implement. From facing difficulty in finding programmers willing to work together, to encountering issues like experience mismatch, personality conflicts, etc., the hurdles in this process can be many. Hence, here are some of the challenges encountered by the team during pair programming:

  • Conflicts in personalities: The biggest hurdle in pair programming is finding engineers who are willing to work with others without any conflicts. Moreover, issues among both the members can affect the quality of coding hence it is vital for the lead to appoint appropriate people the responsibility of pair programming.
  • Not applicable for every situation: Though pair programming may seem an advantageous process, it is not applicable for every situation and should be considered only when required as it can hamper the effectivity of other software development processes.
  • Lack of engagement: As the process of pair programming is highly dependent on the individuals involved it is vital for them to be engaged in the process thoroughly. Any lack in engagement from even one of the two members can lead to conflicts, which can further impact the quality of the software.
  • Cost: Even though pair programming reduces the possibility of errors tremendously, which reduces the cost of testing, the process in itself is quite costly and requires extensive amount of resources.

Conclusion:

The relevance of pair programming is being recognized worldwide by both software engineers and scholars. It has become an effective way of writing and testing codes, as it involves two experienced engineers who monitor the process regularly and make necessary modifications to improve its quality and effectiveness. Though there are some shortcomings of this process, yet it is one of the most efficient way of assuring the quality and functionality of the software, during the software development life cycle (SDLC).