Pair Programming Resources

Looking for a Good, Free Resource

After introducing the concept of pair programming, I went looking for (free, of course) resources to further explain how it worked and what the benefits are. At first I was surprised at how little I found. Sure, there are chapters in all of the XP books on pairing, but I was looking for something that I could just send a link to in an email. I figured there would be lot of good stuff to choose from.

I think there is not a lot of profound work on the Web explaining what pair programming is because, at it’s core, pair programming is pretty simple. In addition, there is not much written on its costs and benefits because it is a relatively new practice and doesn’t have a whole lot of academic research done on it.

What is Pair Programming?

As is the case with a lot of things, a good starting point for a brief overview of pair programming is to go to the Wikipedia entry. It has a surprisingly good, brief overview of the what and the why of the practice.

The Costs and Benefits of Pairing

Once you’ve got a basic idea of the concept, the next step is to analyze the pros and cons of the practice. For this, I recommend Alistair Cockburn and Laurie Williams’ paper The Costs and Benefits of Pair Programming. This paper appears to be about eight years old, but is still perfectly relevant. This might be the best free, less-than-ten-printed-pages introduction to pair programming.

Installing Pair Programming

My limited personal experience was pretty successful, but there are so many dynamics that come into play when introducing a practice like this into an organization where the concept in entirely new. So, I was still looking for more resources on how to introduce the concept and the practice of pairing. I ordered a copy of Pair Programming Illuminated by Laurie Williams and Robert Kessler. I’m only on the second of twenty-seven chapters, but what I’ve read so far seems to be insightful and helpful. I’ll post more about what I find as I work through it.

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