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Pros and Cons of Pair Programming
4 min read

Pros and Cons of Pair Programming

What is Pair Programming?

Pair programming, in its most simple terms, is two developers working at a single workstation.

The pair shares one mouse, one keyboard, and one monitor. The programmer at the keyboard is called the “driver”. The driver focuses mainly on creating the code while the other person, called the “navigator”, is more focused on reviewing the overall direction and code. The roles can be switched any time and both are responsible for writing and reviewing codes.

IT organisations use pair programming as an agile technique to achieve maximum efficiency and ease processes of software development.

The software development technique is only used by companies occasionally as it takes time and effort, both of web programmers and companies, to truly reap from the benefits of the practise.

Like all work techniques, pair programming comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, which we’ll review below.

The Benefits of Pair Programming

1. Greater Quality Control

The collaborative nature of pair programming helps control the quality of codes. Since there are two sets of eyes and two brains working on a single project, the tendency to make mistakes is lower.

Web programming in pairs allows for continuous code review and problem identification. This helps reduce any errors in the code and lessens the amount of time spent troubleshooting at the end of a project.

2. Knowledge Pooling

Pair programming is an excellent training activity for programmers, specifically for junior ones.

When a senior and junior programmer is paired, the more experienced team member can share their knowledge with the less experienced team member. Junior programmers get to fully immerse themselves in the complex processes of software engineering by participating.

3. Increased Team Productivity and Morale

According to this study, programmers enjoy their job more when they spend it working with a partner. An article from medium.com backed this up, stating that an online survey showed that 96% of programmers favoured working in pairs than alone, and that 95% of them felt more confident in the codes they wrote.

This boosts productivity of the team, resulting in greater work efficiencies and higher morale of your core team working on the project.

4. Ideation of More Robust Solutions

When working alone, it can be difficult for an individual to think of various solutions to a single problem.

This particularly rings true in programming as developing software involves choosing the best data framework, algorithms, and research on top of creating, writing, testing, and implementing codes. It’s a long process which may be difficult for an individual programmer, resulting in him or her sticking to tried-and-tested codes instead of exploring alternative options.

However, in pair programming, engineers get to discuss the project at hand, evaluate more options and then decide on the best one to move forward with.

Keep in mind though that having two perspectives can bring about disagreements, which brings us to the pitfalls of adopting pair programming.

The Drawbacks of Pair Programming

1. Increased Conflict

Let’s face it. It is common to have disagreements in the workplace, but misunderstandings can be detrimental to workplace productivity if they are not dealt with well.

This could be because of several reasons; personality, ego, hierarchy, culture, or education - to name a few. In the programming world, a very common reason is one might be an introvert who prefers working alone.

2. Higher Initial Cost

Why pay two people for the work of one? After all, web programming is seen as a solitary activity.

Though pairing reduces the amount of time programmers spend creating, testing, and solving an issue, this benefit is only realised later on.

In the initial stages of pair programming, a significant amount of time and resources will likely be spent getting programmers familiarised with each other’s working styles, and figuring out a system that works best for them.

3. Slowdown of Project Progress

In order to collaborate successfully in pair programming, talking is heavily required and encouraged. This is because the driver codes (sometimes out loud) and the navigator directs.

This requirement of frequent communication may not be a working style that all programmers can work with, and could slow down instead of speed up the project’s progress. There are some developers, mainly experienced ones, who genuinely feel more productive when working alone.

Final Thoughts on Pair Programming

Although pair programming is used as an agile technique to fasten processes and approach problems efficiently, it ultimately depends on each programmer for it to be truly effective. Some are fit to do pair work, while others are not, since everyone's work style is different.

If anything, pair programming is used to encourage collaboration, sharing of knowledge, and handling of different personality traits in the workplace.  

At Skilledd, we recognise the fact that all engineers have different working styles and preferences. And when we place talents, we make sure that candidates’ working styles are a good match for the team they may be joining!

Find out more about how we assess our talents and match them to the most suitable opportunities.