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Pair Programming Cranks Up Computer Programmers’ Productivity


Tech companies like Facebook and Square are increasingly using the pair programming technique to boost programmers‘ productivity. With this method, two programmers share the same computer and desk. As one person writes the code, the other scans it for errors and design quirks.

Pair programming was first introduced in “Extreme Programming Explained,” a 1999 book by Kent Beck of Facebook. Advocates of the method cite decreased software errors and more timely code. Detractors complain that a bad pairing is akin to a bad date that never ends. “There’s a joke that pairs, like fish and house guests, go rotten after three days,” quipped Square engineering manager Zach Broch to the Wall Street Journal.

Relevance, a software consultancy, even has on-staff coaches to act as mediators when such pairings go wrong. “People who have been pairing a while, they’ll start acting like old married couples,” Relevance coach Marc Phillips explained.

The software company Atlassian mocked pair programming in an April Fools’ Day video called “Spooning,” which you can see below. Programmers, what do you think about pair programming?

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(Photo credit: Atlassian)

Marissa Brassfield
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