The Pros and Cons of Pair Programming

When we first read the word “programmer”, what’s that first thing which arises in our mind? It would be unusual if you imagine one person, sitting in front of the computer system, flying their fingers on the keyboard. That is a typical way for the developers to write software, but it is not the only way. Before we discuss the benefits and the disadvantages of pair programming, let’s first discuss programming is all about?

Pair programming is considered as one of the most controversial agile practices and is a part of extreme programming methodology, which is initially promoted by Ken Back in the late 90s.  The pair programming consists of two programmers sitting side by side working in given particular tasks. While the one person is coding in it, the other one is just observing, suggest improvements, notices mistakes, looking up the documentation, general assistance, etc in order to make that coding person complete their tasks.

pair programmingBoth of these programmers have undertaken each of the two roles. This programming practice is considered controversial due to its number of benefits and disadvantages altogether. If you are a developer, and you have never been tried with pair programming, then this may seem a little strange, perhaps even off-putting. This is quite different from solo programming and may sound a little weird, but it does have its own pros and cons.

Why do Tech innovators adopt pair programming?

There is no secret that organization tends to adopt an effective, product-centric approach to software engineering, after all, the value of getting products to market is by adding pressure for organizations to act and act quickly. Any strategic change brings new challenges, organizational requirement and roles to fill.

You may combine the shortage of talented developers with the pressure to bring a product to the market quicker and you will find the organizations which are compelled to take risks like hiring the people with little or even no experience can be quite costly.

pair programming


Dave spires said that “organizations are looking to enable innovation in a time of challenging market conditions”. A sustainable solution which is finally making its way into the limelight is called pair programming. Like most other technological trends, the pair programming was born on the dare that far precedes its adoption in the early stages.

The concept is quite unique and is fairly normal and simple because it is two programmers coding together at one work station. If all these are done correctly with the right mindset, then pair programming offers undeniable organizational advantages.

Now, let us discuss the pros and cons of pair programming, and how they benefit the organization in a different manner:

Pros of pair programming

  • Code quality

Paired developers are more likely in catching issues with code quality while working together. While the driver is focused on writing the codes, the navigator is quite free to think about the style and function. Code quality standards tend to be followed more consistently when the developers are working together in a pair.

  • Robust solutions

There are several ways to solve issues with softer services. To develop software involves selecting the best data structure, algorithms, and class researchers, among much other decision. When the developers are paired up together, then each of these choices can get advantage from the experience of both the developers.

  • Developer communication

Individual development may be a great option to focus, but keeping the developer informed of each other’s work is again the most chronic problem. Code reviews can help to alleviate the problem, but pairing prevents it's outright immediately. The developers who are paired together are equally familiar with the code which code they should write and the decisions that went to both of them.

pair programming

  • Knowledge transfer

Pair programming can be considered an excellent way for junior programmers to learn rapidly from senior developers. The juniors and interns experience a sort of full immersion in software development when they get paired. They learn the complete complex process, not just by watching it, but also by participating in it.

  • Culture

The high bandwidth communication of pair programming often leads to stream with great personal chemistry and distinct team identity. The positive cultural experience is correlated with higher rates of employee’s satisfaction and there will be a distinct benefit in an industry where the talent is expensive and scare.

Cons of pair programming

  • Higher costs

It follows logically that two developers who are using one keyboard multiply the cost of development too. According to the studies, it is shown a 15% to 100% increase in the baseline development costs. While this cost may be offset at least in part by growing quality an endless rework, teams considering pairing must account for the potentially higher initial cost of development.

  • Mixed results

As per the studies, the pair programming has not returned conclusive evidence of measurable advantages. This does not mean that you cannot derive from it, but you will have to determine what you need from pairing and how to measure your success.

pair programming

  • Team fit

The high-intensity communication of pair programming is not a good fir forever personality and even every organization. Drivers are supposed to develop out loud speaking out when they write code. Introverts may not be keen on the idea of sitting, literally shoulder to shoulder with the group of 6 team members eight hours every day. There are some developers mainly the experience one, who is legitimately more productive while working individually. The senior developers may not be eager to lower their output at the time of pairing with others.

  • Watch the master

Pairing two developers with fundamental experience gap can be advantageous to both, under the right circumstances. However, it can also lead to a more experienced developer dominating the process. The novice developer then becomes disengaged, watching the masterwork. The dialog between the developers slows to nothing and almost touted advantages of pair programming are even lost.

[Also Read- Which is the best programming language for web development]


Pair programming can be more productive and valuable in teams which have some tolerance for deeper thinking, exploration and some creativity for developers. As in many other aspects of human experience, the two minds can be much more productive than anything else.

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