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Is face to face pairing better?

Two people working on the same machine at the same time? crazy! only, not really. But i'll touch on why pair programming works so great in a different post.

This post is about showing a wholly different style of pairing with someone than I'm used to:

Face to face to pairing (they call it screen pairing)

In the post, Brian gives several reasons why he likes this sort of pairing to "traditional" pairing:

The work is more free-flowing and conversational. It’s easier to note the other person’s body language. It’s easier to stop coding, look up, and talk to each other. I found the switching between people more fluid, with fewer episodes where we were both going for the cursor at the same time.



Working on windows, what sort of software would you need to make this kind of pairing work, though?

Is it better than "normal" pairing? I can't say until I've tried, but I can see the upsides, indeed.

One downside could be that you could easily not pay attention to the other person. I also like to point to pieces of code using my finger rather than the mouse - it feels more natural and phisycal. So I'm not sure yet.

How do you pair today? have you tried this?

« Spend at least 50% of your time with your team | Main | Step #4 - Start doing code reviews – Seriously »

Reader Comments (2)

Software wise you could use VNC, but I've been playing with Microsoft SharedView lately ( ) It lets you ahare your desktop or individual apps with up to 15 remote people (if you wanted to "pair" with more than one person), highlights other people's cursors and, most importantly, is free :-)

I'm sure there's a million other products out there, as well as potentially using things like Skype, but it seemed quite slick when I tried it.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSteven Robbins

I've paired in a lot of different formats / setups / situations, and my experience has been that face-to-face definitely is one of the best ways. Having a very large (30") monitor that both people are looking at is also a good substitute. The goal in effective pair setups, in my experience and opinion, is to shift the focus from 'writing code and talking about it' to 'having a conversation where code is one artifact.' Face-to-face can help contribute to this.

Over the years, and especially over the last year, the primary and only 'absolutely essential' best practice in pairing is having two live input devices at all times.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCorey Haines

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