Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pair Programming - when your pair is 20 miles away?

I am working at home today, my furnace broke last night and I am waiting for a plumber to get the part he needs to fix it. However, our team is in the middle of a sprint and I need to get work done on a number of tasks I was planning on doing with another member of the team in a pair programming exercise.  What's a 21st century developer to do? Enable himself with collaboration tools!
This morning, we set up a online meeting, and shared one of our screens.  I was fortunate enough to have a VOIP headset, so I was comfortably able to be on a long phone call without having to take my hands off the keyboard.
Much to my surprise, this arrangement worked out better than I could have ever imagined. We have both been working away on our task without any loss of productivity - actually even having a minor productivity gain when we needed to run the same test in another development environment to compare the results of our changes versus the baseline and all I had to do was click a button to share my screen -  allowing us to work on another system without having to move.
I am amazed that technologies such as Remote Desktop Connection, VPNs, and IP telephony have matured to a point that allows me to pair program with someone in another office almost better than if I was sitting next to him. These tools certainly help out in cases like this, when someone is forced to stay at home unexpectedly.

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