Agility: Pair Programming & Quality

Written on 12:40:00 PM by S. Potter

I have been working on Agile development teams on and off over the last few years. Not all the "agile" teams I have worked on have been as disciplined as they really ought to have been, but I was wondering what agile developers thoughts are on effective pair programming practices? I know some of my ex-colleagues are quite happy with having one programmer glance at the other programmers code (after the other programmer designs and codes it by themselves) and write tests to see how to break the code, but I am not sure this is good enough for the sake of quality. I personally enjoy working with developers at all levels of experience assuming they are positive, friendly people or at least professional. Now I also know a number of developers that don't fit the "positive", "friendly" or "professional" molds, so I was wondering how to handle those situations effectively without compromising the software's quality early in the process. At the end of the day I am focussed on delivering high-quality software to clients because my job is on the line if I screw up and also my bonus depends on it, even if I don't screw up. The company I presently work at, Finsignia LLC, is more disciplined about agile principles than other organizations I have worked at previously. In fact, Finsignia is the only company I have worked for that specifies, in their contracts with clients, quantitative measures or ranges to define the level of software quality we will deliver to the client. For example, > 98% unit test coverage, SMI ranges, etc. Quantitative measures are even more important for the project/developer leads (which I am one). While we have a lot of automated tools that we incorporate into our continuous integration processes to measure our quality quantitatively, I don't like that thought of having to refactor something later when it should have been caught earlier on in the process. Presently the developers on my team have a blast, but I know at times people just can't get along in a positive way for various reasons. So I would appreciate any wisdom from people who have had to deal with this type of situation. I invite you to leave me your pearls in comments to this blog.

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