Peer Programming: How to Get Involved

Peer programming is fun!

Peer programming is a fun way to interact with others and (hopefully) learn a thing or two, but some people don’t know how to get involved. As it turns out, there’s no exclusive club you don’t know about, and groups are usually open to anyone.

If you’re not familiar with peer programming, the concept is simple. A group of developers get together to code with the idea of helping each other through whatever process they’re involved in. Some work on their own projects in a group setting, and query the group when they have a problem they can’t quite figure out.

Others use the time to work on group projects with a few others, while a larger group is around for support. You may even find someone kind enough to help debug or review your code!

For junior developers, peer programming eliminates a bit of the mystique around coding. You’ll either meet people who can help you through a rough spot, or find comfort in the fact that, without the luxury of hiding behind a keyboard at home and Googling things to appear smart on a message board (yes, you), nobody knows what’s going on and we’re all just winging it until code compiles.

Senior developers get a chance to help the next generation, and may find someone equally experienced to collaborate with. If you’re looking to network, peer programming meetups are always a solid option.

But where are these peer programming meetings? They’re not social-hour get-togethers or lectures, so finding them can be a bit tricky – especially in your area. A Twitter search will return general discussion on peer programming, but most of Twitter is filled with non-essential fodder.

There are some dedicated resources. Eventbrite is widely used for ticketing and RSVPs, but is meant for formal events. Finding a peer programming group there is a possibility, but very dependent on geography.

A better option is Meetup, which is a more open version of Eventbrite. It straddles the line between social media and real-world events nicely, and tends to have more tech events than some other mediums. Many use it to create tightly woven communities around a topic, which are typically open to anyone who wants to be communal and collaborative. Tech is no exception on Meetup.

The upstart in this realm is Peer Lab. Its sole purpose is peer programming, and it relies on developers to spin up groups in their area. While a perfect fit for this topic, Peer Lab is still limited to larger metro areas such as New York, San Francisco and London. Some use it as a cross-promotional forum for their Meetup group (because why not, right?), but each event offers a way to contact the organizer, and lists details on where and when events are held.

Peer programming events are typically static, too. Like visiting a therapist, you only need to carve out a few hours per week or month for such meetings. Depending on the state of your career or code, peer programming may feel like therapy, too.

2 Responses to “Peer Programming: How to Get Involved”

  1. Marcel Spitz

    Thanks Nate,
    I didn’t know where to look while I do that MeetUp is a great way to create a community. I will check what Orlando metro has to join or to set up a PP group here.
    Marcel Orlando FL