4/01/2011

Au Pair Programming

In a former life, I wrote a piece called Crystal Methodology about several important programming methodologies. Time has passed and new practices have risen from the primordial programming soup. I'll discuss one of these newcomers today:

Au Pair Programming

Based on the popular Pair Programming technique, where two programmers work together, au pair programming also centers around a paired collaboration.

In the classic Pair Programming approach, both programmers assume different roles, with one writing the code (the Driver) and the other reviewing (the Observer or Navigator). In Au Pair Programming, there is only one person responsible for the actual engineering work (the Programmer). The other member of the team (the Au Pair) facilitates the work by taking on other activities that the Programmer has no time for, such as keeping the work area clean, fetching coffee, and taking care of the children (these may be actual children or, in the case of a management au pair, the employee minions of the manager). This even division of labor allows the Programmer to focus solely on the task at hand, enabling excellent productivity since they do not have to worry about superfluous tasks they don't enjoy anyway, like human interaction and showering.

The Au Pair may occasionally chime in with ideas of their own, in which case they are referred to as the Backseat Driver. These ideas are generally ignored and dismissed as the Programmer takes on their other role of the Jerk.

Ideal pairings are still being worked out in this new approach. Some Au Pairs have been French schoolgirls, although more successful pairings have used interns.
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