Why I hate Pair Programming

The quote American author Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)

You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose who you pair program with

Whilst she actually said  “your family”, you get my drift.

The rules of Pair Programming were devised in the early noughties and haven’t been updated since 2009. That’s 10 years in the fastest moving industry on the planet. According to the Extreme Programming Organisation rules.

All code to be sent into production is created by two people working together at a single computer

It’s a bit like when you’re out cycling or walking in a group, you always drop down to the lowest common denominator and go at the speed of the slowest person in the group. Paired programming is just like this.

They also say:

Pair programming is a social skill that takes time to learn.

Maybe it does,  but when you’re uncomfortable with someone you don’t want to spend months sitting next to them for eight hours a day hoping eventually, after six months you’ll get on.

I recently read articles by Patrick Brown The Only Person I’ll Pair Program with is my Cat and Wesley Moore Pair Programming

I agree wholeheartedly with both articles and recommend you read them. As we no longer have a cat, I’m unsure who I’d only pair program with.

A few (of the many) issues I’ve experienced, in my (brief) exposure to paired programming, have been personal hygiene (my pair not me), colour choice and size of the font and other preferences/settings of the IDE and as mentioned in both articles, tiredness and fatigue.

Doing anything intensely, without a break for two, four-hour stints, assuming you get a break for lunch is very tiring.

That’s why I want to break up my day with the occasional five minute trip to the BBC News site, The Register, Motorcycle News or the Manchester City FC sites with a cup of Coffee. Horrors of horrors I could end up pair programming with a United fan bleating on about how back in 2011 it was ’35 years without a trophy for City’.

Also, agencies say, that when looking for a Contractor the client wants someone who can “hit the ground running”. I do this by bringing my own MacBook Pro with the latest version of macOS (UNIX) and as much memory as will fit on the motherboard and a solid state drive. My favourite IDE, an Application Server and a relational database and a NoSQL one, all installed and running. I’m certainly not going to pass Cupertino’s finest back and forth with my ‘pair’.

In reality, we’ll hit the ground walking or maybe breaking into a jog at some stage, using a vanilla tower PC with 4 GB.  of memory and a mechanical drive, running Windows 8 because IT hasn’t got approval to upgrade to anything more recent or powerful. Passing around a keyboard with more plastic than your average Disney branded toy. Least we can take a break for a couple of hours when Windows decides to upgrade mid-morning because IT won’t give you access to the Windows control panel to change the ‘updates’ settings.

Whoever introduces Paired Programming into an organisation has obviously never programmed seriously in their life. All they’ve used their PC for is endless Powerpoint presentations to senior management and an Excel spreadsheet to keep an eye on how much the Project has slipped since they introduced Paired Programming.

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