Pair Programming With a 13 Month Old

Pair Programming is a software development method that uses two programmers on one workstation thereby writing code as a team. I did a slight variation of this on a recent project with a thirteen month old and had pretty good success.

Pair Programming
Lisamarie Babik, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I used to really like this site GraphTV and was sad when it closed. I later found OMDb API which I used to recreate GraphTV as a command line program on GitHub. But who wants to use a command line program to look things up? I knew it could be much better hosted on its own website which meant improving my JavaScript and a ideally use a JS charting library (I ultimately went with Chart.js). In a past life I wrote a lot of R code and JS often feels incredibly foreign to me for reasons I cannot quite articulate.

These days I spend most of my time with a 13 month old and have pretty limited amounts of time here and there for writing code. I do find that when working on a programming problem that it can be incredibly easy for me to run into a roadblock, hop on SO and then find myself further out in the weeds and really frustrated.

With this project, I took a different approach. Any time I ran into a roadblock I did a quick search on SO, read a few answers and then just closed my laptop and walked away. Granted this was not the fastest way to solve the problem but it did lead to many minor epiphanies in otherwise quotidian parenting events:

  • Playing with some books on the floor and thinking “The innerHTML() element is not flushing everything out, maybe there is a dedicated function in Chartjs”.
  • Trying to get the 13 month old to eat more and thinking “Why am I using this unwieldy CSV file when I could simplify my code so much with a JSON object”.
  • Changing a diaper and thinking “Well, I have tried everything else, did Bootstrap change something between v4.5 and 5.0?”

I finally finished my project and launched bingetrendy! I am not nor will ever be a shredding programmer and I am okay with that. I also realize that not everyone might have their own 13 month old to help distract them. However, I strongly feel that walking away from my code for extended periods of time was beneficial for me and may be beneficial for you as well. Now if you will excuse me, the 13 month old is asleep and I want to figure out what episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 6 I should watch.