The Mountain Dew-fueled all-nighter is history. Today's supercoders work 40 hours a week. And two to a computer. It's called extreme programming - and it's revolutionizing the software world.
When Kevin Yu went to work for Hewlett-Packard in December 1999, he was a prematurely jaded 25-year-old programmer who had already lived through layoffs at Compaq and done a stint writing code at Digital Equipment Corp. Like most programmers he was withdrawn. He followed orders obediently. He felt removed. He worked alone.
Yu still codes at HP, but these days he's gregarious, passionate, and eager to solve problems of every kind. His attitude adjustment is the result of a new approach to writing software that's transformed practically every aspect of his job. The biggest change: Each afternoon, he pulls up a chair beside a fellow programmer, and the two of them share a single workstation - one monitor, one desk, one keyboard. It's common to find him in HP's Seattle offices shoulder to shoulder with teammate Asim Jalis, who stares into the screen as Yu "drives," both of them pondering aloud whether a new idea might work. Later, Jalis types as Yu watches, exclaiming periodically, "I get it!" when the spray of code makes sense. Sometimes one partner works the mouse while the other uses the keyboard, like a married couple finishing each other's sentences...