Pair Programming vs. Mob Programming: Which is the Best logo
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Pair Programming vs. Mob Programming: Which is the Best

Pair Programming vs. Mob Programming: Which is Best?

If you're a new developer and you want to collaborate on a project, read this!

We want to help you become a more effective developer by providing you with information about the different ways you can collaborate with other developers.

We'll compare and contrast the benefits of pair programming and mob programming so that you can make an informed decision about which method is best for the project you have in mind.

Let’s get started!

First things first: what is programming?

Humans and communities use languages to communicate with each other and exchange various thoughts and ideas. In a similar fashion, computers interact with each other in a language understood by them. This language of interaction is known as a Programming Language.

Computers are a versatile invention and can perform a wide range of functions, ranging from simple activities like processing worksheets to complex operations such as forecasting weather.

To program the computer to perform these activities, it needs to be told what to do. This is where a computer programmer comes into the picture.

What are some collaborating tools?

There are various tools that programmers can use for coding in pairs as well as mob programming. Some of the more popular ones are Tuple, Teletype, CodePen, Coda, and Paircode.

Paircode is one of the most user-friendly ones to help you find your next coding partner and collaborate on code online.

Pair programming vs mob programming: which one is for you?

When engaged in software development, it is imperative that the task on hand is approached as a team. In any field of work, teamwork is paramount to ensure the organization's success, especially in the field of Information Technology.

What is the pair programming concept?

Pair programming refers to the pairing of two developers sharing the same computer and working on the same project. The widespread popularity of remote coding platforms has made it possible for programmers separated geographically to collaborate on projects.

The programmer who has control of the keyboard and works on the code is termed the driver, while the other programmer is referred to as the navigator. The navigator is responsible for observing the work to identify errors and work on the project's strategic direction.

Working together will help the two programmers brainstorm seamlessly when faced with any challenging problem. The two programmers switch roles as and when required and work co-operatively to develop software.

The developers must share their thought processes for paired programming to work effectively. Successful communication is the bedrock upon which paired programming functions.

Pair programming pros and cons

Pair programming is defined as two programmers working together, sharing the same computer, and collaborating on the same software project, algorithm, or debugging session.

Advantages Of Pair Programming
  1. Quality code

When two developers are working together, with the navigator watching over the shoulder and scanning the lines of code for bugs, fewer errors are likely to find their way into the coding process. Subsequently, the software project will be of a higher quality.

  1. Better resilience

The term “Bus factor” measures the risk associated with a project. The “Bus factor” is stated to be the minimum number of team members that have stopped working on a project from a project before the project stalls due to the non-availability of adequately trained developers. The lower the bus factor, the higher the risk of the project getting stalled.

  1. High team morale

Writing code can be second nature and even enjoyable for developers to pursue. There are times when it can be cumbersome and challenging. At times the bugs in the code may be unidentifiable. Troubleshooting code line-by-line to fund an elusive bug can be a frustrating endeavour, so achieving it together can boost morale.

  1. Reduced distractions

When developers are working in pairs, potential distractions are reduced, if not totally eliminated. The urge to check up on your social media feed or look up for WhatsApp messages is done away with, as when you are with a colleague who’s focussed on the task, you will also give the job on hand a greater priority.

  1. Communication and creativity

With communication comes creativity. The presence of communication between developers will help to bolster creativity by encouraging new ideas. Brainwaves may come while working solo as well, but with no one to discuss them with or act upon, they may be quickly forgotten, and a good idea will be lost forever.

While working with a partner, the idea can be shared at once among them, and it can be improvised and innovated further. Another benefit of working in pairs is that communication fosters better social and interpersonal skills.

Pitfalls of pair programming
  1. Can be time consuming

Pair programming can be a time-consuming activity. Even though pair programming has its share of benefits, speed of working is not one of them. Programmers working individually tend to work quicker than two of them working together.

Pair programming advocates, however, emphasize that the slower pace of work will result in code with a better structure and containing fewer errors.

  1. Could have a counterproductive effect

Pair programming requires constant communication with your fellow developer. Though this idea may sound ideal on paper, communication is not likely to be every developer’s strong suit.

Varying experience levels among the coders could also slow down the project work. This is particularly true if two developers with mismatched experiences are made to collaborate. Doing so would be a counterproductive step that could have a detrimental effect on the project.

What is mob programming?

Mob programming, also known as ensemble programming, is a collaborative approach to software development. It is when a small group of coders are working together in real-time on one task.

The roots of mob programming lie in pair programming, a programming technique in which two developers work with just one computer and on the same project.

The mob programming approach has to rely on face-to-face communication, collaboration, team alignment, and continuous code review to render the whole procedure effective.

Mob Programming or mobbing works on the concepts of lean software development and extreme programming. Alongside software coding, mob programming teams also work on other facets of software development. These include understanding user requirements, designing, testing, deploying, and even working with the customer closely to understand their needs.

Mob programming also works with geographically distributed teams sharing the same virtual space. What may work against employing this technique is that it may take longer to arrive at simple decisions or complete simple tasks, as many opposing views may hamper the decision-making process.

Who invented mob programming?

Woody Zuill founded the concept of mob programming for software development in the year 2011. It involves the whole team gathering and working with a single system simultaneously.

Mob programming pros and cons

Mob programming, as the name suggests, is a group of people, usually ten or more, who collaborate on a project. This collaboration happens in real-time and helps to accelerate the decision-making process.

Advantages of mob programming
  1. Communication gap absent

The problems linked with solo programming, such as clarifying certain aspects of the project, the time lost in back and forth emails, and opportunities for misunderstanding, are either eliminated or minimized thanks to the collaborative nature of mob programming.

  1. Dexterity

Mob programming helps to drive productivity in cognitive ways. The mental load of maintaining and tending to the finer details is split between the team. It even minimizes the need for in-code documentation. Mob programming helps the team to realize that while working collectively, the sum is greater than its parts.

  1. Quicker decision making

As the entire team is involved in the decision-making process, a consensus is reached more quickly. This enables the decision arrived at to be relevant and agreeable to everyone on the team, thus ensuring the team's maximum cooperation and completion the project without any redundancies.

Pitfalls of mob programming
  1. Differing opinions

Dealing with individuals of varying ideas and opinions can sometimes be a tall order. Everyone needs to be on the same page with regard to the critical aspects of the software project.

Certain programmers may be proficient in a specific technology or methodology. This may cause friction in the group. So great care has to be taken to align everyone to the organization's common goals.

  1. Remote mob programming may not be ideal for all

Mob Programming can be hard to organize and partake in when the team may be totally or partially remote. Video conferencing is an option, but the participants may miss out on context and subtle facial cues when you are not in the room.

Remotely participating in the mob may provide a below-par experience for the remote team members. They then may choose to be more passive observers than actively participate in the meet.

  1. Mob programming isn’t a one size fits all solution

The social aspect of mob programming may affect those who aren’t particularly socially inclined. Many engineers don’t prefer to work in groups. They would instead plug in their earphones and get down to work.

Introverts are more likely to avoid group work as attracting attention to themselves is something they would rather avoid. But they work fine in small groups and prefer when the discussion is focused on the main task rather than on small talk.


Collaboration is an intrinsic part of programming, and it needs to be done from time to time during the software development cycle. As discussed, pair and mob programming are the two main kinds of collaboration for developers. There are vastly similar in concept, barring a few changes.

If pursued even at a limited level, pair programming and mob programming will yield tangible benefits, including reduced development time, better training, and, finally, better code quality.

If you are looking for a coding partner, look no further than Paircode. Our matching system was built to help you find the right developer for your project, and we make it easy for you to get started.

Just enter your skills and preferences, and we’ll take care of the rest. So what are you waiting for?

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