One of my great passions related to programming is “Pair programming” or in its group version “Mob programming”. I have been fascinating by Extreme Programming for a long time and I strongly believe in its effectiveness.
However something that often added friction while practicing PP was my extensive use of keyboard shortcuts. It’s a personal preference, of course, part of the extremely creative work we do every day, but I had a few episode over the years where my coding partner got lost after one of my keyboard shenanigans.
Nothing major: they ask
“WTF happened to the code!?”
I tell them something like
“Oh yeah, I used CMD+Ctrl+Alt+W+T+F and I changed the code like this”.
There are times when things don’t go that smoothly though. For instance, when you are pairing with an introvert, or the Junior+Introvert combo and the person is not gonna ask you anything. You think that everything is fine, but it’s not. You are creating a knowledge and communication gap that gets wider and wider the more shortcuts you use.
In the last few years my focus as a Senior Developer has been bridging this type of gap among team members, to build a better team spirit, effectively mentoring junior developers and empowering them to reach their full potential.
Bridging means that when I do something unfamiliar, unorthodox, advanced or fancy, I take a moment to explain it, even if I risk to sound patronising. I take the risk because I believe that if I expose my true caring, flawed self and I communicate with empathy, you will probably see that I mean good and that I’m not trying to sound smart. If you worked with me for more than 5 minutes you know that I’m not smart at all 😂 I know a few things and I don’t know a shit ton of other things. Something that I know though are IntelliJ Idea and Android Studio shortcuts and I found a way to communicate these shortcuts to my coding partner as I code using a plugin:
Presentation Assistant by Nikolay Chashnikov
As any other plugin, it’s one search away from installation:
Once you have installed the plugin, every IDE shortcut will trigger a toast message at the bottom of the screen showing what key combination you used to trigger the action:
Navigating to Preferences and searching for “Presentation Assistant“, you can customise the message in a few ways:
and this makes things way smoother when I pair with a colleague that is not using a Mac.
If you are public speaker live coding in front of an audience, or recording a screencast or a Pair Programmer working with a colleague over Google Meet, you can’t miss this plugin!
Little things like this eventually add up and contribute to make you a better developer and somebody that people like to work with 😉