My Ideal Pair-Programming Setup

Whenever I'm pair-programming with someone we often hit a spot where we both want to experiment and try stuff out - different ways of approaching a problem, playing with APIs, whatever.

Going back to your own computer when you hit this spot isn't great. By moving away from the other person you lose the ability to quickly show each other code and discuss things.

I think I've finally figured out the ideal setup to solve this problem.

Three monitors side-by-side. Each person has their own mouse and keyboard. Two chairs reasonably close together.

The person on the left gets sole control of the left monitor. The person on the right gets sole control of the monitor on the right. The monitor in the middle is shared ground. Either person can drag their windows from their monitor across to the shared one when they have something they want to share, talk about or pair on properly.

This allows people to pair really quickly and easily. It also allows you to switch back to your own experiments just as easily. You could even take it further and have this setup in a long row where everyone excluding the edge people have two people to pair with at any time. Or, further still, a circle of programming.

Sounds great to me... but, I don't know if there is any combination of software and hardware already available that would make this work. If anyone has an idea I'd love to hear it!


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Colin Howe

I'm Colin. I like coding, ultimate frisbee and startups. I am VP of engineering at Conversocial