Closet Coder

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Pairing Post Mortem - @Shicholas - String Calculator

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Last night I had a great pairing with @Shicholas working on the String Calculator kata.


We again used TMUX + VIM, even though Nick wasn’t very familiar with VIM. Based on his experience, I think this might be the best way to learn VIM since you have someone guiding you through. You won’t pick up on everything, but you’ll learn a handful of new things each time.


We went through each of the different rules and ping ponged back and forth. It was a struggle to do the simplest possible thing every time, and really let the tests DRIVE your development. Your developer brain wants to generalize the solution to a problem, but the strength of TDD is keeping your actual solution as simple as possible. Developers are notorious for over complicating things and over desigining.

We found that refactoring for readability vs. duplication/maintainability was in conflict. Specifically when we needed to split a string to look for a delimiter and then keep the remainder to parse later. We could have put that code in an initializer, or a helper–but we would have either divorced the implementation from where it was used or made redundent calls. We opted for redundent calls until it became a problem.


  • The strength of TDD is keeping your solution as simple as possible
  • Refactoring is really dealing with tradeoffs and trying to figure out the best way given a set of circumstances. It’s an art not a science.
  • It’s easy to teach/learn VIM when you’re pairing as long as people have a basic understanding of Insert/Command mode
  • Ruby 2.0 has this thing called refinements that sound like a good idea, but probably aren’t ready for prime time yet. We didn’t experiment with them… I just found out about them because we did a tiny monkey patch of String for the exercise.

I’m really starting to see how powerful real TDD is, especially in the context of pairing. I hope I can see this further as the pairings I participate in go past exercises and onto real world stuff. I’m excited to see how much my TDD improves.

On to the next pairing session…