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Pair Programming That Doesn't Suck

On some teams pairing is the norm; developers enjoy the collaboration & experience enhanced productivity. Others, though, work on teams where pairing is shunned, avoided, or just faked. Why do some craftsmen thrive with pairing while others want nothing to do with it?

Why does coach-enforced pairing turn into something dry, distracted, imbalanced & ineffective? Join in an honest discussion & learn about which pairing styles drag teams down & what sort of pairing helps teams rock. Whether you’ve never paired before, or you’re on a team that’s trying, you’ll have fun and come away with a clear sense of the best that pairing has to offer. (Bring a computer set up for development if you have one, but don't let it keep you away.)

Session Leader Name(s): Angela Harms & Michael Hill

Duration (30, 60, 90): 30 minute talk, 60-90 as workshop

Audience Level (New/Novice, Experienced, Expert): Beginner & Experienced

Session Style (Presentation, Workshop, Interview, Panel, Game): Workshop

Description of Session:

This is a 30 minute talk, followed by a code-retreat style pair programming session. In a 60 minute session, it's randori.

Session Leader(s) Background:

Angela Harms makes software at LeanDog, in Cleveland. She loves beautiful code that emerges from collaboration, and learning new ways to make it work. When she's not pairing on tests and the code they inspire, you can find her at conferences speaking about what she's learned (so far), or discussing puzzles and new ideas in open space. Her website, myAgileEducation.com, has invited lots of answers from practitioners and industry leaders.

GeePaw Hill has been a professional programmer for thirty-one years. For the last eleven, he has focused his efforts as a trainer, coach, and team lead on XP software projects and transitions. Mike is a well-known leader in the Agile community and is a regular speaker at related industry events. His chief interest over the last few years has been on the perils and rewards of coaching agile development teams.

Session History: I gave the 30 minute talk at Ruby Midwest in Fall of 2011. I will be giving it again at Mountain West Ruby Conf in March, and at TechWeek in June. Video from the RubyMidwest talk is here: http://confreaks.net/videos/757-rubymidwest2011-does-pair-programming-have-to-suck and is also on speakerrate: http://speakerrate.com/talks/8834-does-pair-programing-have-to-suck

But it really wants to be a hands on workshop. This is its lifelong dream. :)

Questions Answered By This Session:

* Why does pair programming in the real world suck sometimes?

* When I can't follow what some rockstar is doing while they're hunched over the keyboard, how can I fix things?

* When a noobie is slowing me down, how can I get some friggin work done?

And, maybe the biggest one:

* How can I help my team see the beauty I see in pair programming?


Submitted by

Session Leader Name(s): Angela HarmsMichael Hill

Stage: Accepted

Feedback Score

12 votes

Idea Details

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  1. Comment
    ( Moderator )

    Love this.

    Thank you for bring practice into the practitioner conference.

    So is the idea that the audience watch you pair or do you intend on some of the audience pair as well.

    I would really love to see this happen, perhaps be clearer on how the workshop element might run, what you need to make it happen.

  2. Comment
    Carlton Nettleton
    ( Moderator )

    I give this an 7 out of 10 (10 being perfect)

    I like that this is about showing people what pair programming is like through an example. I like that you have clear learning objectives. I like that you have done this session before with different time lengths. I like that you are passionate on the topic. I like that you have paired a man and woman together - which I feel is slightly unexpected. I like that you hate duplication!

    What would make it perfect is to pick the time length - 30, 60 or 90 minutes. Once I know how much time you need, then I can give more feedback

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment
      angela.harms ( Idea Submitter )

      My preference would be a 90 minute session. The 30 minute talk (given at Midwest Ruby & next week at Mountain West Ruby), followed by two short code-retreat-style pairing sessions. All we need for that is to have a line in the program that says "bring a laptop if you can".

      Randori style is an alterative. We'd just use the projector, and start out with me and Michael pairing, with replacements coming in from the audience so we get a variety of experiences.

  3. Comment

    Pairing is one of the technical practices that often gets overlooked. I appreciate Angela and Michael providing practical guidance on it. I would prefer the longer session where people can practice the techniques you demo.

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