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Pair Programming Etiquette

15 December 2006 No Comment

I’ve often felt that there should be an etiquette guide for pair programming. Here is a first stab. I’ll update this list as I think of more.


  • Wait until the test is passing to nitpick on coding standards.
  • Ask nicely for the keyboard to “show” what you mean.
  • After “showing” what you mean, offer the keyboard back.
  • If they don’t take your advice, let them finish doing the task their way and then show them after they’re done.
  • It is good to inform the driver of keyboard shortcuts and refactorings but don’t interrupt the programming flow too much with advice that is not directly related to the programming task.


  • Don’t ignore or get frustrated when your pair tells you a better way to do something.
  • Auto-format so your navigator can read your code easier.
  • Don’t be stubborn about giving up the keyboard when your navigator seems to know what they’re talking about.
  • If the navigator is confused by what you’re doing, talk them through it by having a whiteboard conversation.

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