Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics

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This article was written on 22 Mar 2022, and is filled under Current Issue, Volume 17 2022, Volume 17 No 1.

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Coding in the time of Covid?

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Software Column

by Allen McLean, RN, MN, MSc, PhD(c)

Allen is currently a PhD Candidate in Health Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon) in the Computational Epidemiology and Public Health Informatics Lab. His research interests include the development of computer modeling and simulation software for addressing health systems challenges, chronic diseases and health inequities at the population level, as well as mobile technologies applied in long-term care facilities. Allen previously attended the University of Victoria earning an MN and MSc (Health Information Science) in a unique dual degree program for Nursing Informatics professionals. Allen has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare as an ultrasound technologist, clinical educator, team leader and community health RN.

Citation: McLean, A. (2022). Coding in the time of Covid. Software Column. Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics, 17(1).  https://cjni.net/journal/?p=9755

Coding in the time of covid

Column

There is a well-established practice in software development termed pair programming. Traditionally, this technique has two software developers share a single keyboard and workstation working alongside each other collaboratively. The two developers take turns and continually switch roles in writing code; one being the Driver, whose job is to write the code, and the other is the Navigator, who observes and reviews the code. This approach offers nurses involved in software development many advantages over programming independently (Hannay et al., 2009).

Two brains are better than one. Pair programming often produces better solutions than either developer could have produced on their own. Problems are picked up earlier and potential bugs are identified more often by two people instead of one. Before the pair settles on an approach to a particular problem, they discuss, evaluate, and talk through any trade-offs involved. Solutions are evaluated up-front rather than after they’ve already been implemented. Pair programming provides a process for sharing knowledge and context that is built into your everyday workflow. For every line of code written while pair programming, two people have context on the code instead of one. This provides built-in redundancy if one person leaves, moves to a different team, is busy with other work, or goes on vacation. Without pair programming, developers must go to extra lengths to share knowledge, usually through extra meetings and code review sessions. One of the biggest benefits of pair programming is learning from your partner. Pairing with a more senior developer is the best way for junior developers to improve their skills. Senior developers can also learn new things when pairing with a more junior developer, be it a nifty Linux command they didn’t know, how to use a new IDE, or how to be productive in the latest front-end framework. All nurses are expert in something, and all nurses have something to teach.

However, we are living in the time of Covid, and traditional pair programming may not be possible for any number of reasons. Fortunately, with the increasing popularity of remote coding platforms, it is now possible to pair program from anywhere. Here are some of the better platforms, with many available free or at low cost. Happy coding!

1. Motepair by Atom
2. Tuple
3. Teletype for Atom
4. Microsoft Visual Studio Live Share
5. CodePen
6. Codeanywhere
7. USE Together
8. Remote Collab for SublimeText
9. CodeSandbox Live
10. Cloud9
11. Codeshare
12. Brackets
13. Coda
14. Codenvy

Reference

Hannay, J. E., Dyba, T., Arisholm, E. & Sjoberg, D. (2009). The Effectiveness of Pair Programming: A Meta-Analysis. Information and Software Technology, 51 (7), 1110-1122.

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