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Registered: Apr 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 492

Agile Tip #1: Using NetMeeting

Better than pair-programming is programming in groups of 3 or 4 at a time. This is accomplished quite easily with the program sharing feature of Microsoft's NetMeeting. All participants stay at their own PC's and may be geographically distributed or sitting next to eachother.

Here's what we do:

1) Schedule a NetMeeting or just agree to connect.

2) Participants connect to the PC of the code author, using a network directory to find the target PC by the author's name or, alternatively, just entering the machine name for the target PC.

3) Author shares his IDE (IntelliJ, for example), allowing others to control the IDE on demand.

4) Participants join a conference call and use a headphone/microphone to keep their hands free for typing.

5) Participants alternate controlling the IDE and coding as they jointly develop. Some participants just observe, listen and learn.

6) Any participant can share their own applications with all the others, in which case participants alternate screens.

You would be amazed at how easy this makes group programming and similarly amazed at how productive this arrangement can be. It also avoids limitations associated with pair-programming, such as the need for participants to be in close proximity.

Another nice aspect of NetMeeting is that it is a true peer-to-peer arrangement, with no centralized servers and no hidden, per-meeting costs other than bandwidth.

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