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Thursday, 20 March 2014

Productivity


Lately I've been working on a project with two of my classmates. We are working with iPython and implementing functionality to allow the user to manipulate a small turtle with simple commands. It is meant to be a tool to learn/teach programming (as mentioned in my last blog post). 

I found that the last two weeks have been the most productive. Our professor (or "client", if this were a work situation) clarified some steps we need to take and this speeded up our progress a lot. We had made some wrong assumptions about some of the features and there was some confusion in what we were expected to make and this had caused some stalls in development. Previous to this, even though some significant time was spent on the project, I feel our productivity was really lacking (unfortunately, time does not equal progress). 

As for comparing specific productivity per session. I found nearly all sessions to be really productive lately (both pair programming and individually working on the project). We have three ways of working on the code lately. 

One is pair programming, where we both try to figure out how to solve a problem (it may fixing a particular bug, or implementing a new feature). I find this to be a good way to program in some situations, such as delving into a new part of the code (writing a python file for the first time), as well as when two people have the same problem fresh in their head and they both have ideas to implement/fix the problem. Working together can get the problem fixed more quickly. It's also much quicker for us to spot little syntax mistakes.

Another thing we have done is when we had a a bug that both were interested in fixing was open two computers and both work on the bug trying different things to fix it. I found this interesting, as we are both able to implement our own solution, and make comments to each other about what is working and what is not. 

We have also split up the tasks and had two people working on two different tasks in the same room and at home at the same time (communicating via Skype). When we are in the same room and have a problem it is easy to show the problem to the other person and get their input and it may help solve the problem more quickly, this is double edged. It get's the problem solved more quickly, but it also may derail the other person from the task they are on, and they can lose focus and become immersed in the other task. This is the plus side of working at home, we are able to work separately on two tasks/files without the huge chance of being brought out of focus by the other person (although we do share our problems via Skype still). At the same time, it is easy to lose communication and be on the same page. At one point two of us were working on two different files, one was in python, and it was supposed to print some commands certain format. The other file (javascript) was to read the commands printed from the python script and do certain things with it. There was some miscommunication and the person writing the python script was doing the print as one big string (as they expected the javascript to be accepting on one string), while the javascript person thought the print command would come as many printed strings (rather than one) and the javascript person ended up working on getting the javascript to merge the many strings it was expecting into one. Had we both been in the same room we would have explicitly said what each were expecting to do, rather than have it get "lost in translation" through texting or Skype. 

All in all I found every coding session to be productive for separate reasons. Lately we have clear(er) goals in site, so we are making progress into implementing those goals. Previously I felt like we were just swimming in code that we did not understand.

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