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Pair Programming Desk

Pair programming can be tiresome if you have a desk that's not suited for the task. Over the years, we've tried a lot of desks at various clients, and all common desk designs have drawbacks when it comes to pairing. Straight desks work ok, but either the driver sits straight and the co-driver gets a 45 degree angle to the screen or both have to have their head turned (make sure you switch sides often if you got this setup). The convex end of conference tables often works slightly better when it comes to angles, but the convex shape itself makes it harder to get proper support for your wrists. And also, people tend to kick you out of the conference room to have meetings. The far too common concave desks doesn't work well, and the more exaggerated the cut-out is, the worse it gets ("Right behind you buddy!").

This is the factor10 solution to the problem. In late 2007, we created our own desk that fits our purpose by putting years of pair programming experience into a new design. This design is created with a slight cut-out for each person, slightly facing towards each other and towards the screen. Both developers gets the same, almost straight angle to the screen while having the neck straight. The cut-out makes you come closer and gives a good support from the desk. Also, we recommend that you get a chassis to your desk where the "feet" of the desk can be tilted (outwards), since that makes it more comfortable (especially for the collaborator) to get in and out with the chair without colliding with the desk "feet".

The design is not symmetric. The reason is that we sometimes work on different projects, so we wanted one side to be slightly bigger (about 2/3 of the desk) and one side to be slightly smaller (about 1/3 of the total size) to get a desk that works well for both working alone and for pairing.

The desk design and the blueprints are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Sweden License. This means that you can go to a decent wood workshop with the drawings and get your own desk in any material or color you like. If you for instance need a symmetric version, the Creative Commons license gives you the opportunity to modify our design to fit your needs as long as you give attribution and share your new design under the same license. You can also create and sell desks to others. We'd be happy to hear about your experiences using the desk and we'd be very curious to hear about modifications and how they worked out.

Since it is asymmetrical, think about which side you want the "master" side on before you order it from the wood worker. You may need to order a mirrored one.