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A Journeyman's Pair Programming Tour

by Mike Bria on Dec 18, 2008 |

Corey Haines has recently embarked on a unique personal "Pair Programming Tour" around central US. Now three weeks into this innovative journey, Haines has posted video interviews revealing many of the unique insights he's gained about pairing, automated testing, and the evolution of a software craftsman while sharing the keyboard at the home-bases of Dave Chelimsky, Brian Marick, Uncle Bob Martin, and others.

Inspired initially by the Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős, Corey Haines has embarked on a tour in the name of increasing our industry's emphasis on software as a craft. Like Erdos did in the mid twentieth century, Haines is currently traveling around the upper midwest to practice software development (rather than mathematics) with a wide range of his peers and mentors. To "pair" with them.

While he's dubbed the tour a "Pair Programming Tour", it's ultimate intent is somewhat less about the practice of pair programming per se than it is about the ideas of what it takes for a software developer to really become good at what he or she does. As Corey himself stated when InfoQ caught up with him:

The tour is the beginning of providing a mechanism for people to gain the benefits of the journeyman mentality, traveling and working with different people.

In essence, Haines is acting on a quite literal interpretation of the belief that software is craft, and one that can only be mastered through hands-on experience with different problems and exposure to the learnings of other craftsman.

Regarding how the tour has helped him personally in this way, Haines had this to say about the 3 weeks he's spent thus far passing the keyboard with others: 

One thing that stands out is the benefits I've gained by pairing with such a wide range of people on different projects: a Ruby Cocoa application; a Ruby VM in ActionScript; Merb-, Rails- and Limelight-based apps; and, good old Ruby. I've seen a lot of different environments, from offices to living rooms, which has given me a different perspective on people, as well.

Haines has captured video interviews with each of his hosts and posted each to the blog tracking the progress of his tour, allowing us to also share in his "exposure to other craftsmen's stories". In these interviews you'll hear various stories and viewpoints from Uncle Bob Martin, Brian Marick (Part 1 and Part 2), David Chelimsky, Micah Martin, Dave Hoover, and Eric Meyer. Each of these interviews are well worth watching in their entirety, but a few of the highlights are:

  • Dave Chelimsky on how there exists no better substitute for learning our craft than working with others (via pairing); on the benefit over reading a book or blog ("You can't learn to bake by seeing a great cake")
  • Brian Marick on problems with and alternatives to automated acceptance-test driven development; also, his take on "2 screen pairing"
  • Micah Martin on 8th Light's Apprenticeship approach to growing as a software craftsman
  • Each person's perspective on what Corey is doing and their experience pairing with him

Set some time aside to check out Corey's record of his tour, share in the insight he's taken the initiative to gather over the past few weeks.

And as always, don't be shy, login and comment below to let everyone here know what you think about Corey's Pair Programming Journeyman Tour!

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