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Two Halves Make One Whole

July 17th, 2010 Comments off

I invested an hour watching a recorded speak by Martin Fowler and Neal Ford at some Paris convention. It was a well spent hour — as always with Martin Fowler — with some interesting angles on communication and feedback, and on why agile works. Especially the part regarding pair programming caught my attention.

According to Martin Fowler and his companion pair programming is an effective development practice because:

  1. We can only use one part of our brain at one time, and
  2. “The driver” and “the navigator” of a pair programming unit are using different parts of their brain and are thus complementing each other.

I have no idea if this is a proven truth, but it certainly conforms to my own experience with pair programming. The driver (the one with the keyboard) usually ends up in a state of completing-the-task-at-hand focus, while the navigator, a little more detached, makes bigger sweeps and thinks more on the big picture. For me pair programming has always resulted in better design, less bugs and a lot more fun.

If you want to watch for yourself, but don’t want to spend the full one hour, you’ll find the pair programming part 36:20 into the presentation.

Cheers!