Pair Programming
Software Development Team Mentoring
June 22, 2022 - Shane K.

Importance of Pair Programming with Remote Team Members

Companies are adapting to the purely remote or hybrid culture in today’s work culture. This is where pair programming saves the day. Not only because writing advanced code can be challenging and doing it alone can make the task even more daunting, but it has also been observed that programmers work best when they are empowered and inspired by one another, and pair programming makes that easier than ever. Regardless of the language, programmers working together increases productivity and builds team morale. In this post, we are focusing on the future of agile software development through remote pair programming.

What Is Pair Programming?

Widely adopted by organizations everywhere, pair programming can be defined as an activity where two programmers are working together at one workstation on a similar task simultaneously. Typically, the responsibilities are distributed in such a way that one of the two team members works as the “Driver” and writes code. While known as the “Observer” or “Navigator,” the other one reviews each line of code as it’s typed in. The main idea behind pair programming is to create ease in the agile software development process by allowing the developers to think through, plan, discuss, and implement a better solution.

The traditional definition of pair programming includes the necessity to share a single machine. Today, companies are switching to virtual programming, proving that it is as effective as the physical pair programming sessions.

What Are Some Benefits of Paired Programming?

The advantages of pair programming are as follows:

Fewer Mistakes and Bug Hold Ups

From a negligible typo to crazy hard bugs, even the most minor errors can cause your code to fail. According to a study, compared to solo programmers, pair programming results in a 15% reduction in errors. When programmers work in pairs, there is a high chance that one of them has already made a similar mistake before or knows how to solve the problem efficiently. This will save time as there will be no need to go back and forth during the extreme programming process. Moreover, while the driver writes the code, the navigator caters to all the external interruptions. Both the team members can even switch roles for their ease.

Faster Learning and Onboarding

Under the guidance of an experienced developer, pair programming allows newcomers and senior members of the agile software development team to work together and learn new things. In other words, it provides perfect conditions for efficient and fast onboarding of new programmers. Pair programming also makes it easier to solve complex problems as, at the end of the day, two brains are better than one!

Collective Code Ownership

Compared to a single coder working on a program, when two programmers work together, they feel more involved and share ownership, resulting in a robust codebase. Furthermore, all the team members have complete exposure and knowledge of different parts of the product, not only the ones created by them. Pair programming gets even better when the team members switch roles, and every task is dealt with with the utmost proficiency.

Increased Employee Satisfaction

Pair programming is an excellent way to build a team as it brings employees closer while they share their knowledge and experiences. It reduces alienation as team members respect each other, creating a rapport that results in a success-guaranteed agile software development process.

How to Do Paired Programming Remotely?

Remote pair programming means two developers are working together but from their own homes. Start by assigning the roles of the driver and navigator between the two team members. Once the roles are defined, make it a clear point that both know their responsibilities:

Driver – Writes the Code: This person will be responsible for developing algorithms, functions, variables, and classes. In simpler words, they will be doing all the technical work while verbally communicating their thinking process to the partner.

Navigator – Analyzing the Line of Code: They will be paying attention to the code, reading line by line. A navigator will also be responsible for helping in overcoming challenges and suggesting alternatives to the ideas or problems of the driver.

Note that when pair programming, make sure to switch roles between the programmers every day or every 30 to 40 minutes. Different tools that can be used for screen sharing during pair programming include Zoom, Google Hangouts, Slack Call, RubyMine with Code with Me plugin, and Visual Studio Code with Live Share plugin.

Pair programming isn’t only about sharing time and space but is about the synergy of collaboration. A contradiction of opinion is expected between team members during the virtual programming session. Pair programming is a great way to evaluate potential candidates, solve blockers on projects, distribute knowledge, share expertise, and most importantly, work efficiently from the safe space of your home.