Pairing – why do we need it?

Jaikishen Sharma, aged 32 is a budding software tester working for an IT startup, with a penchant for experimentation. He innovates not only at work but also in life. He started out working as Business Analyst but being an explorer at heart, he found his true calling in software testing. He’s known in his organization as a master bug-hunter adept at finding problems that others often miss. Besides his professional pursuits, he is fond of mountaineering, reading, contributing to political causes and teaches poor children on weekends.

Jane Sharma, aged 29 and English by birth, is Jai’s loving wife. She’s both career-oriented and a dogged home-maker and lends a sense of sobriety to the happy-chaos that Jai is always so full of. They met at a common friend’s house 7 years ago, found solace in each other’s company and married uneventfully after a brief courtship. She works as a Project Management consultant when not cooking, tending the roses in the garden or negotiating the vegetable prices at the local bazaar.
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It’s Friday, 9:30 pm Jane finds Jai sprawled on the sofa with an open book and a faraway look. Shaping his hair in his customary but distinctive style, his brown tousled hair temporarily lay in check.

“Anything bothering you? What are you thinking about?”

“Umm, a new experiment was announced today. A presentation on ‘Pairing’ was made by a wannabe manager as part of the Agile embracement program that Argon is getting into.” (Argon Software is the name of the IT startup where Jai works).

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“I have worked with Waterfall all my life with builds thrown over the fence by devil developers and now they want me to ‘pair’ with them. How am I going to cope?” Jai looked up at Jane with a slight frown.

Jane inquired calmly “Pair with who? What will you do differently when you pair?”

“Well, Ash, the developer, and myself will analyse the story together and chat about it. The story is written but there’s so much implicit stuff within that we both need to unravel and handle while coding and testing. She’ll let me know what part of the codebase will get changed, the schema / tables changes, what part of UI will be revamped and how she will test with Junit.”

“And what’s your contribution going to be?” Jane asked in a voice somewhat muffled by the toffee in her mouth.

“Simple, I will let her know how I will test it. Since I know the application far more than she does, I will let her know the other application areas where the impact might be so that she does not miss and create a regression impact.”

“Isn’t this the same Ash you had a tiff with earlier?”

“Yes,” Jai gently eased up mindful of his posture and the slouch that Jane commented about, often.

“Aishwarya Thakur, she seems nice otherwise but not sure why she tenses up and gets offended whenever I speak about her infected code during the Standup? My job is to go after the code with a hammer and bring down the structure if I can,” Jai said with a malicious grin, his eyes crinkling with joy.

“I remember the adjustments I have had to make with you – no slippers in the kitchen, no meat in the house, wearing a sari during Diwali…”

“And what about me when I visited your home in Bristol. The sheer politeness, the subtle humour – I just could not make sense of… but having loved and lived with you… I have begun to enjoy the ‘British way’, as you call it,” again his eyes crinkled that Jane so loved.

“So Jai, these are different mindsets or cultural differences at play and even at work, isn’t it? But it should help once the ice breaks and finds commonalities. The relationship and rapport should improve. Surely you will learn a lot about each other’s technical skills as well which will benefit the team integration,” Jane spoke with wisdom borne out of the many consulting assignments that she was so good at.

“Oh yes, I learnt today that Ash is a Sagittarian like me. And during lunch, we gorged on dhoklas. It was great. My technical skills are bound to grow since she’s so good with Java & Groovy… should help me immensely in making better use of WebDriver and SoapUI.” He got up and stretched his tall lean frame, the ‘Om’ locket glinted in the night-light.

Jane started to yawn but controlled it soon enough.

“This pairing will happen frequently, I guess?”

“As and when the development starts Ash will check with me or I will peek over her shoulder checking if she has covered this and that scenario. I can even help her with her unit tests. That way I will stop bugs leaking over into my environment. I intend collaborating with her a lot about the tests that I am likely to write. I mean if I know there are some common elements which are coded and reused in multiple places, I need to test once… saves my time. With short release cycles, I need all the time I can get.”

“Sounds interesting, a bond should build between you on the basis of the constant dialog and the differences should be a thing of the past.”

“Yeah, hopefully. Tomorrow I am seeking her help over an assert that I am finding difficult to code. I am sure she can crack it.”

“Chalo, let’s sleep now,” Jane said yawning uncontrollably.

“Coming… let me finish this chapter on ‘Test Driven Development’. After ‘Pairing’ Argon is going big with TDD,” Jai said his head already deep into the book.

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