This evening I stumbled across two interesting posts about alternate layouts for pairing rather than sitting side by side. Firstly Tom Dale talking about Tilde’s corner desk pairing setup (and some of the software setup they use) and that was inspired by Josh Susser’s face to face pairing setup at Pivotal Labs.
Both approaches require more floor space which makes them difficult to setup but I would expect the face to face pairing to be a heck of a lot better if done well. I’ve always preferred having separate screens in mirror configuration as well as separate keyboards and mice to allow the developers to sit a little further apart to be comfortable and to be able to look straight ahead at the screen. That said, I quite like having a second monitor for spreading out windows as we have at LMAX so it’s not clear cut which is better.
It’s also interesting to note the popularity of the flat screen iMacs as opposed to Mac Pros or laptops. The former being too expensive for extra power and extensibility that generally isn’t required and the latter often being a bit too individualised to be good as pairing machines. Plus laptops, while amazingly powerful these days still have less bang for the buck and the reduction in performance is just enough to matter for development.