Pair programming pros and cons for network automation

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There’s a pattern within the expertise trade through which software program drives the configuration and operation of IT infrastructure, together with networking. Which means software program, as an alternative of per-device configuration, drives community performance. This transition to software program is named an infrastructure-as-code strategy to community configuration, management and monitoring.

Organizations should be certain that the software program that helps infrastructure as code incorporates each networking and software program growth greatest practices. A standard strategy is to show software program builders about networking or train networking workers tips on how to develop software program, however this can be a long-term course of. An alternate possibility is pair programming.

Pair programming is a software program growth methodology through which two individuals work collectively at one workspace to write down code. One particular person acts as the motive force who writes the code, whereas the second particular person observes and navigates, offering suggestions and subsequent steps.

Within the Agile software program growth world, pair programming groups include two builders. Within the community automation and administration world, a pair programming staff consists of a developer and a networker. These groups are additionally relevant to different duties, similar to constructing community configuration templates or creating general community designs, the place the staff would comprise two networkers.

This text refers to a software program growth particular person as a developer and a networking particular person as a networker.

Pair programming greatest practices

A community automation growth staff that contains a developer and a networker allows workers members to be taught from one another, whereas producing higher software program than both would create alone. The networker may also help the developer perceive networking features, in addition to how networking individuals assume. That is notably efficient for growing UIs that make sense to networkers.

The twin perspective of software program growth and networking helps the staff arrive at a greater resolution than if the members labored independently.

Conversely, the developer can train the networker methods for software program growth. The 2 can work as a staff to reach at a great design, choosing the right algorithms and knowledge buildings and decomposing the general challenge into manageable modules. The design section is vital as a result of good software program begins with choosing the correct abstractions.

It should undoubtedly take a while for the pair programming groups to get accustomed to working with one another, which might make early progress appear sluggish. So long as groups do not have underlying issues, like character conflicts, their productiveness ought to enhance over time.

The members of the pair have to swap roles incessantly, offering every particular person with the chance to drive or to look at and remark. Every member must have not less than fundamental software program data for pair programming to work. Many introductory software program programs can be found on-line at low or no value to deliver the networker as much as a fundamental data of the chosen programming language — usually, Python for community automation.

Pair programming pros and cons
Evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of pair programming.

The professionals of pair programming

Pair programming can present many benefits for the staff concerned and for the group.

  1. Two heads are higher than one. Two people viewing the identical downside can shortly focus on options and arrive at the most effective strategy. The twin perspective of software program growth and networking helps the staff arrive at a greater resolution than if the members labored independently. The networker can clarify tips on how to accumulate and show data, whereas the developer can advocate knowledge buildings, algorithms and abstractions that simplify the code.
  2. Alternative for code evaluations. Pair programming replaces time-consuming and error-prone code evaluations, through which a second get together evaluations the proposed software program modules. With pair programming, the staff evaluations code in actual time, which avoids rework. After all, this requires each staff members to have a great command of the programming language in use. If that is not attainable, a staff of two builders and one networker could also be a viable different.
  3. Cross-training. Pair programming staff members be taught from one another throughout the coding course of. It is a wonderful strategy to share data, each about software program growth practices and the way networks perform. Pair programming additionally facilitates the event of interpersonal abilities, like communication and teamwork.

    Superior software program builders could at first really feel that pair programming impedes progress, however they need to be inspired to provide the method an opportunity. Ideally, the pair will shortly get to the purpose the place the networker can contribute to the software program growth course of, providing suggestions like the next:

    • “We should always verify for error situation X.”
    • “May we put these two items of data facet by facet on the identical display?”
  1. Software program upkeep. A big advantage of pair programming is multiple particular person will perceive how a bit of code works and its design standards. This leads to a greater challenge reminiscence that makes software program simpler and cheaper to take care of.
  2. Distant groups. Groups can pair program remotely, utilizing teleconferencing methods with display sharing. I’ve efficiently used this mechanism with community design and troubleshooting duties. The staff members discuss with each other as in the event that they’re in the identical bodily room. This allows groups to stay productive even throughout instances of restricted journey, similar to throughout the present coronavirus lockdown.

The cons of pair programming

Pair programming has its disadvantages as properly however not as many because the record of benefits.

  1. Character conflicts. Some staff members could not get alongside properly with one another, which can require completely different pairings. There’ll sometimes be workers members who can’t work with anybody else, which is able to develop into obvious after a number of makes an attempt.

    Each staff members should be comfy with somebody trying over their shoulder whereas writing code. It could take a number of periods earlier than they develop into comfy with one another. This can be the most important adjustment pair programmers have to make. A extra skilled developer will should be affected person with a much less skilled accomplice who’s creating code at a sluggish tempo.

  1. Variations in expertise and experience. One staff member could also be considerably extra superior than the opposite. The pair programming strategy could considerably cut back the overall tempo of growth. Nonetheless, working collectively allows the extra superior member to mentor the much less skilled member, which will be a bonus in some conditions. The much less skilled accomplice can choose up on suggestions and methods that the superior staff member makes use of to achieve efficiencies.
  2. Is not it half as environment friendly? One would possibly naturally assume pair programming is half as environment friendly as when two individuals work individually, however surprisingly, research have discovered it’s only about 15% much less environment friendly. It does, nevertheless, eradicate the necessity for code evaluations, cut back bugs and produce higher code. The online impact is pair programmers will be extra environment friendly than separate builders who should then overview one another’s code and undergo extra intensive integration, take a look at and debug steps.

Perceive the software program growth course of

The most important think about a profitable software program challenge is spending the required time within the high-level software program design section. It’s considerably extra environment friendly to construct the correct software program the primary time. Builders who skimp on the design section incessantly need to discard an strategy they hung out creating as a result of they did not have a transparent understanding of the necessities. Working via the design course of allows groups to find out the general algorithms and knowledge buildings they should remedy a given downside. Books like Speedy Growth and Code Full — each by Steve McConnell — may also help information your software program growth course of to a profitable conclusion.

It could take a number of weeks earlier than pair programming groups gel and start to see excessive ranges of effectivity, so be affected person. When fastidiously deliberate and with buy-in from the contributors, pair programming practices can deliver actual advantages to the event of community automation methods.

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