Better Software magazine Feature Article
It Takes Two to Tango
by Rachel Davies
What every software manager should know about pair programming and
how to implement it without missing a step.
Pair programming is not one person passively watching the other
typing. When engaged in pair programming, each programmer plays an
active role in determining the design, implementation, and tests. The
pair analyzes strands of the problem while passing the keyboard back
and forth between them, writing code and tests as they go.
Pair programming is a primary practice of Extreme Programming (XP),
one of the increasingly popular Agile software development methods.
(See the StickyNotes for more on Extreme Programming.) XP is built on
the idea that a focus on quality will decrease project risk. An XP
team will typically write all production code in pairs. But you don't
have to implement XP to benefit from pair programming. Even
programmers on non-XP teams naturally gravitate toward working in
pairs when faced with difficult problems. It is possible to integrate
the practice of pair programming within other approaches, Agile or
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