BCS SPA Software in Practice

2nd – 4th July 2018

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Typing is not the hard part - Developing a culture of pair programming

Practice techniques to help you and your team develop a healthy pairing culture



There is a misconception both inside and outside our industry that programming is about typing code. This idea has lead to a false understanding of how to measure the productivity of software teams along with what constitutes ‘adding value’

Pair (and Mob) programming place the focus of software development on the building of a shared mental model between team members rather than working alone. However we often expect people with no prior experience to take to these practices (and enjoy them) with little or no training.

In this workshop participants will practice two different pair programming techniques that can be used both in day to day work or as the basis for learning exercises.

Audience background

Anyone with an interest in collaborating to write software
Familiarity with Java, Ruby, or Python

Benefits of participating

See how to use intentional practice to develop pairing skills
Learn techniques to improve the way you collaborate on building software
See a variety of ways people approach the same problem
Develop communication skills

Materials provided

A GitHub repository with skeleton code for each exercise (Participants can choose from Java, Python and Ruby)


Participants will work in pairs to complete two pairing exercises each designed to demonstrate different approaches to pairing and encouraging different behaviours

Detailed timetable

00:00 - 00:15 Introduction Presentation
00:15 - 01:25 Exercise 1
01:25 - 01:35 Mini Retro & Pair Swap
01:35 - 01:40 Intro to Exercise 2
01:40 - 02:20 Exercise 2
02:20 - 02:30 Mini Retro & discussion


Session has been run within GDS as a collaborative exercise between two teams and is scheduled to be run on a monthly basis across the organisation from the beginning of March.


  1. Thomas Lee
  2. Emma Beynon
    Government Digital Service
  3. Bevan Loon
    Government Digital Service