If Code is Written Solo in a Forest, Does it Make a Sound?

I’ve written before about my views on the importance of pair programming as a way of building a common conciousness in a team. When two people work on a piece of code together, not only is it instantly reviewed for correctness and readability, but already two people on the team understand exactly why the code is like that – the design decisions and trade-offs that went into building it that particular way, and are aware of any re-usable modules, patterns, idioms or conventions that emerged during the coding session. When each of those people goes off to work with other members of the team, those memes propogate around the room surprisingly quickly.

When you write code alone, you immediately lose this benefit, and on a system of any significant size, this is really important. You might be writing terrific code, making great decisions and innovating really creatively, but if nobody on your team has experienced those decisions and innovations with you as they happened, all you are really sharing with them is the much more shallow end result: the code.

It’s almost like they never even happened.