I’m a big fan of pair programming, which is one of the primary modes of software development in my research group. Usually, two people sitting together can spot errors that one alone can’t, and the pace of the coding and debugging is often much higher than two people sitting separately. I don’t know if my graduate students are as appreciative of this technique as I am — how many students want their advisor right next to them for the entire afternoon, taking over their keyboard, and seeing all the IM requests coming across the screen? But as an researcher, I find it gives me a much greater feel for what we’re actually doing in the lab, sort of like a small group meeting where we’re both looking at the same data or the same plot. It would be great if there were a way to separate the pair-programming from the “sitting in the same cramped cubicle” part of the equation.
Christopher Oezbek just let us know about a cool open source Eclipse plugin called Saros. This lets two people sitting in different locales collaboratively edit and work on the same project. I’ve seen similar things in the editor SubEthaEdit (which is not open source), but Saros will let two programmers do this at the project level (with multiple files open), not just at the file level. It looks like a very cool tool to avoid those overcrowded cubicles (or the famous PairOn chair pictured above).