I have a lot of programming experience accumulated during some past few years. Some experience were gained while working in our team, some were at the clients, some in coding dojo, and some in the open source projects.
Pair programming is great and efficient to the programmers knowing how to use pair programming. But you can’t expect programmers to do great in front of computers at the very beginning of pair programming. Pair programming needs learning and programmers are required to know the difference between an executor (who types on the keyboard) and a pilot. Here are some details.
1. Misunderstandings Of A Pilot
A. The One Who Orders
Those who are fond of giving orders always tell the executors, “add a ‘)’ in the end, then…”. He does not care about solutions and what to do next, but is over-concerned about the details of programming. Actually, he hopes to type the keyboard himself. So when you come across someone who likes to order, then let him type the keyboard instead of being the pilot.
B. The One Who Picks Out Your Spelling Mistakes
If the pilot sits beside you, correcting every spelling mistake you have made, he will not have time to do the real piloting. Just communicate with your correction-maker, and suggest him giving you a cup of coffee (or anything you want) when he is going to correct the mistakes.
C. The One Who Criticizes
The criticizer will criticize every line of codes you write. If his opinion is right, he will not use your codes but insist on his. Try to exchange your roles, or the criticizers may become someone who is too complacent.
D. The One Who Is Silent
The silent man is someone who barely expresses opinions. He is just looking at you working.
Try to ask him what his opinions are on your programming, or what testing codes you should write next.
E. The One Whose Mind Is Absent
This kind of person is there to distract you, not giving you some constructive opinions and helping you solve problems. So just let him leave. You would rather program on your own than with someone distracting you.
2. Misunderstandings Of An Executor
A. The One Who Does Not Tell What He Is Doing
This kind of person just types the codes without telling others what he is doing. The pilot has to figure out what the codes mean. There is no discussion between the pilot and the executor about what methods they should select and how to design. The pilot should ask him about him his plans and opinions.
B. The One Who Is Too Self-Important
This kind of person usually ignores the pilot’s suggestions, for he believes his own opinions are better. When you come across such person, just stop the pair programming thing, and start with the next task. Someone who is self-important will not be a good pilot, either. He will probably become the one who orders or criticizes.
C. The One Who Does Not Know What To Do
Such person is usually not very comfortable with pair programming. They are nervous, and not able to handle the situation. Just make sure you try your best to play the pilot role. Be cautious while giving opinions, and mostly offer encouragement. Most programmers experienced this at the beginning. So don’t hold too much expectation. Let him be a pilot first, or find some pilot who is good at getting along with people to work with him.
D. The One Who Skips Between Codes
Such person likes to skip between the codes, which causes that the pilot does not know where he is. The pilot should to let him slow down, and ask him about his plans, and make sure the pilot knows more shortcut keys than him.
E. The One Who Is Not Familiar With The Tools
This kind of person does not know the shortcut keys in the development environment, which is not efficient. Try to exchange your roles, let him see your skills. Or you can give him a cheat sheet with a list of shortcut keys.
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