Is pair programming painful?

Pair programming has become popular word among software developers recently. As the name suggests, pair programming is a software development activity (writing code) which is done by two programmers. There will be only one of them writes the code and the other programmer thinks whether the code written satisfy their goals. The idea is similar with rallying where in one car there are two people. They are the driver and co-driver. The driver will drive the car and the co-driver will guide the driver to drive accurately.

Pair programming is a programming technique adopted by extreme programming or any agile software development methodologies. Some people argue that this method is a good practice. On the other hand, there are many people say that it is sorrowful. In this blog, the benefits and drawbacks of pair programming will be analyzed, to understand whether pair programming is painful or not.

Some benefits of pair programming are efficiency and increase in performance. In term of efficiency, we can cut the number of workstations as well as software licenses since we need only one workstation every two developers. However, the main advantage that people looking for in this programming approach is an improvement in developer performance. This includes an increase on the number of line of codes and reduced number of bugs or defects in the written code. This can be achieved, because one of the programmers can concentrate to write the code and another one analyzes the code which is written on the screen. If there is something wrong with the code, there is a big chance that it will be spotted during the development phase.

Although pair programming promises wonderful benefits for developers, it has some drawbacks. I believe most people will feel awkward, if they are watched by someone else when they are working. That is why we can find cubicles in many working places. Some people find that it is hard to work under tight supervision. The other problem is every human has their own style and way of thinking. This is also applied in coding style and logical flow within our source code. In my opinion, it is difficult to understand other programmer’s code or adopt their styles, especially if there is a big different in the experience and programming skills.

All of the drawbacks of pair programming are most likely caused by unmatched programmer being paired. I believe this can be solved if both programmer can get a long together and have the same level of programming skills. It will be better if both programmers come from the same programming language background since there is a big probability they will have same programming styles. It is not an easy task to pair up developers in a project.

Is pair programming painful? This issue is debatable since there are advantages and disadvantages. However personally, I would say that pair programming is not painful. There are some precautions that we can do to minimize or eliminate the pains in this programming approach.