Rubbing Elbows

Until I can obtain a job, I will be working by myself most the time. This will inevitably impact my learning because working with others allows shared knowledge and experience for the parties to teach each other. The “Rubbing Elbows” pattern from Dave Hoover’s and Adewale Oshineye’s Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman discusses the benefits of collaborating with others.

The pattern mentions “Pair Programming,” a technique where developers code side-by-side. I have not coded in this manner in a long time. When I took my first computer programming class my best friend and college roommate was also taking that class. Given the circumstances, we often collaborated on assignments. While we did collaborate, we often coded the assignments solo and discussed our methods and problems. I cannot count the times that one of us would get stuck with an issue that the other had no problem with. I learned then that different programmers will find multiple solutions and methods while developing. These diverse techniques are worth examining and potentially adopting.

“Pair Programming” is not the only way to practice “Rubbing Elbows.”

“The goal is to find ways to expose yourself to the daily working habits of other skilled people, and observe the ways in which they gradually refine those habits into even greater skill. These habits extend beyond coding and into all aspects of software development.”

This statement from the pattern shows the type of knowledge the pattern will provide. “Rubbing Elbows” is not necessarily about learning new coding methods but about observing the small, often unmentioned details of a developer’s work habits. Because of this, developers can rub elbows by working on any part of the development process, including presentations or papers.

Working in LFP’s update module team provided plenty of learning opportunities for me. Some opportunities were coding related, while others were about project management.

I have a couple ways planned for practicing this pattern. Now that I am graduating, I think this would be a great time to collaborate on a project with my friend again. We have not worked together in years and this seems like an opportune time. He has been working in development for awhile and I am sure he has a lot for me to learn. I also plan on participating in the LFP spike-a-thon this summer. This will let me work on something familiar while presenting opportunities to work with other developers.

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