Luke Melia


October 10, 2006

On Pairing Etiquette

Jeremy Miller (a recent transplant to New York… welcome, Jeremy!) shares a few Important Tips for Pairing Etiquette:

  1. If your a backseater, wait until the driver gets off the line of code to yell at him for a typo
  2. When you’re pairing, change your IM status to “Pairing with Bob” so your wife doesn’t IM you with embarassing terms of endearment.
  3. If you want me to pair with you, I really, really want you to have ReSharper & TestDriven.Net. VS2005 is basically naked without.

Here, here to number 3. I’d add that you need the TDD LiveTemplates for Resharper that Matt Berther put together or your team’s equivalent. Call me impatient, but why do I need to wait for you to type:

public void Test()

when you could have typed t and tab?

I’ll add some more pairing etiquette tips:

  • Don’t wear headphones. I think this would be obvious, but some people…
  • Don’t answer your cell phone while pairing unless it’s an emergency. Prefererably, turn off your ringer before we start.
  • Be conscientious about health issues if we’re sharing a keyboard. You don’t have to OCD crazy, just bring some common courtesy, and do stay home if you’re sick.
  • The more frequently we switch the driver/passenger role, the better. It keeps us both fresh and engaged.
  • Keep our workspace reasonably clean and clutter-free. Have some pen and paper and index cards handy.
  • When you’re the passenger, be responsible for keeping a mini todo list on paper. Sometimes it functions as a call stack, if you agree as a pair to follow a tangent, it’s important to remember where to come back to.
  • Finally, bring your “A game”. Pair programming crystallizes how few the productive hours in the day really are. Be healthy, well-rested and ready to commit completely to working together for the few hours we have.

Building a great XP team requires building trust and teamwork. Treating your pairing sessions and pairing partners respectfully is a great way to move toward that goal.

2 Responses to “On Pairing Etiquette”

  1. Jeremy D. Miller -- The Shade Tree Developer : Important Tips for Pairing Etiquette chimed in:

    […] some more points here by jmiller Filed under Pair Programming […]

  2. No Pairing chimed in:

    All reasons why pairing will die off soon enough.

    You pairing guys keep putting more stipulations on pairing that are just common sense, which are really reasons why programming is, and always has been, an individual sport like golf.

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