One of the topics that frequently crops up on my TweetDeck is ‘can anyone recommend a good tool for Remote Pair Programming’. Turns out I can! There are no prizes for guessing which one (Yuuguu, just so you know). I decided to chat about our experiences in doing this for five minutes in this video.
The ways we use Yuuguu inside the company
I started work here as a software guy, working on our server implementation. There’s quite a lot going on there. It’s got bits of Java, SQL, various HTTP and XML bindings to it, all the usual buzz word stuff for a modern server development. Our website coding is PHP – again, talking to servers via XML, XMPP and HTTP. Plenty to code, plenty of diverse technologies.
One way we handle the diversity is to use Pair Programming – the technique first brought to light in ‘Agile Methods’. It’s where two programmers sit at the same keyboard and computer screen, and both work on a piece of code. Sounds wasteful – until you try it. The benefits are real. At the very least, one guy can be typing away at the low level stuff – making it work – whilst the other can think about high level issues. The benefits are more compelling still when you pair up people with radically different – but overlapping – skillsets.
We found it particularly useful during a recent major upgrade – rewriting our screen sharing software, to make it faster, and with better looking pictures. Pairing a low-level bit twiddling expert with someone with video codec expertise proved to be a significant help in getting the job done. You find that the real-time, fully-engaged nature of pairing means that problems get found and worked on much faster. Typically, with one programmer, once they are stuck, they can spend a fair amount of time trying to figure out solutions on their own. And their colleague might well be able to solve it in seconds, due to their different background.
Finally, a shout-out with thanks to @dorkitude for asking the question about how strict we are in our application of ‘pair programming’. Cheers!
Til next time,
Have a great week –