Code review, sometimes referred to as peer review, is the systematic examination of computer source codes. It is done to identify mistakes that were unnoticed in the preliminary development phase. Code review is done to improve a software’s overall quality. Reviews could be done in different forms including informal walkthroughs, formal inspections, and pair programming.
Code review is the procedure most commonly used to validate the design and implement features. It assists developers in maintaining consistency between implementation and design styles across different team members working on various projects. Below are what makes code review important:
Code review is not only about code linting and standards, but also mostly about improving the quality of codes by making them more efficient. When you have a team of people with different backgrounds and strong suits, it is always a good thing to ask for improvements. A person could suggest a way to improve performance or lessen complexity, a better design pattern, a smarter solution, and so on.
This is one of the most important reasons for code review. It never hurts to have someone double-checking your work. Something missed by you can be caught by someone else. This helps limit the risks of overlooked mistakes.
When working on a project, every developer hardly works on every aspect of the project. In most cases, a developer works on one aspect for a while, while someone else works on something else. Code review allows people to get familiar with the aspect of codes they didn’t write themselves but might need to refer to in the future. It aids knowledge sharing across the team and the codebase.
Everyone can learn and improve when they join forces. The code writer (programmer) will get feedback about their work, informing them about possible problems and areas they can improve on. The reviewers could learn new things when they read through the code, and also discover solutions relating to their own work. In the end, everyone is better off what directly improves company as organization offering such services.
Code review helps identify security-related flaws within the code that could be leveraged by a malicious user to compromise the integrity and confidentiality of a program. It helps identify ways in which a program’s source code can be made more sound and secure.
Code review helps in maintaining code consistency. It is easy for people to comprehend how a program works when the code is consistent. Consistent code makes it easy and safe to make modifications when necessary. Equally, you can subconsciously create a few expectations and assumptions about how a code works when reading consistent code. Other advantages of code review includes: finding bugs (as a side effect) and verifying code design.
It is very useful and important for every team that produces code to have a reputable code reviewing process. However, it is not always straightforward to conduct helpful and meaningful code reviews. If not done properly, reviews could end up not useful and be like a waste of time what finally may affect reputation of a software house as a brand. Below there is some code review checklist:
Do not review more than 400 lines of code per each review session. The chances of finding defects reduce drastically when you try reviewing many lines of code at a go. It is important to set a line-of-code (LOC) limit just as it is important to set a time limit. This enables you to be at your best when you review the code and further improves the effectiveness of your reviews. In addition, you have a codebase with higher quality.
It is crucial to know what to look for when conducting code reviews. Such key things to look out for include: style, performance, style, test coverage, readability, structure, functionality, maintainability, and so on. To save time, automated checks (such as static analysis) can be conducted on some things such as logic and structure.
Do not review code longer than an hour per time. After 60 minutes, attention to detail and performance usually tend to drop off. The best practice is to conduct reviews in short sessions. Normalize taking a break during reviews. This will help give a chance for your brain to reset. You are also able to review again with fresh eyes when you take a break.
Having certain questions in mind helps you in focusing on the right things when reviewing code. For instance, you could review the code to answer:
When you review code critically with those questions in mind, you ensure that the right things are checked. This will help you reduce time spent at the testing phase.
Do not be critical in your feedback, rather, be constructive. Instead of making statements, you could simply ask questions. When you send constructive feedback, always endeavor to include praise. In cases when comments are not required, you could just write something nice like "Looks Good To Me (LGTM).
It is important to create a positive atmosphere during reviews. This plays a crucial role in the quality of the product. There should be no blame game. What matters should not be who introduced an error, instead, it should be that the bug was discovered before it went into production. Every little win should be celebrated. A positive atmosphere helps your team appreciate and look forward to reviews, rather than dread them.
Regardless of the seniority of a developer, everyone should review and be reviewed. Usually, people tend to perform better when they are aware that someone else will go over their work. When reviewing codes, it is good to include every stakeholder in the project. This helps in identifying diverse issues in the code that relate to both the overall product’s design and the codebase. Carrying everyone along in the review process enhances relationships and collaboration among developers.