by Leon Rosenshein

Remote Extreme Programming

You've probably heard of pair programming. That's where two programmers work on one screen with one keyboard, taking turns being the typist and the navigator/observer. Not my favorite way to work long term, but I've definitely taken advantage of it during debugging or exploring a new area with another developer. It's really easy to do in person, and not too hard even now with WDP. Zoom and screen sharing are almost like being there in person.

At the same time we've got codesignal, which we use for phone screens, zoom interviews, and even some in-person interviews. That's (usually) not pair programming, just following along, but the interviewer has the ability to edit at the same time, if desired. In my experience it works great with simple audio, even better when there's video.

What if there were a way to take that experience and use it for live development of code in our codebase, but inside a fully featured IDE? Turns out such a thing exists, at least if you use VSCode. I haven't tried it out yet, but it's a full co-editing session, with editing of the same file with visible cursors, and live debugging, where both parties can look at/inspect the parts they want. Picture that. Working with someone, and if you want to inspect a variable, just check. Noo more saying. Set a breakpoint on line X. Hove over that variable for me. You could just do those things and explain what you're looking for. I haven't tried it out myself yet, but I'm going to Real Soon Now™. Hopefully someone reading this already has and can let us all know if it's as cool and useful as it looks.