Exploring the Efficacy of Distributed Pair Programming
Pair programming is one of the twelve practices of Extreme Programming (XP). Pair programming is usually performed by programmers that are collocated — working in front of the same monitor. But the inevitability of distributed development of software gives rise to important questions: How effective is pair programming if the pairs are not physically next to each other? What if the programmers are geographically distributed? An experiment was conducted at North Carolina State University to compare different working arrangements of student teams developing object-oriented software. Teams were both collocated and in distributed environments; some teams practiced pair programming while others did not. In particular, we compared the software developed by virtual teams using distributed pair programming against collocated teams using pair programming and against virtual teams that did not employ distributed pair programming. The results of the experiment indicate that it is feasible to develop software using distributed pair programming, and that the resulting software is comparable to software developed in collocated or virtual teams (without pair programming) in productivity and quality.
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