How to Perfectly Plan a Code Review

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How to Perfectly Plan a Code Review

And why is it worth practicing?

Photo by Marten Newhall on Unsplash

Code review may seem like something redundant, but it is a must in a growing code base, an increasing number of tasks, and developers.

If you want to go through code review painlessly and effectively, both from the developer and the company’s perspective, it is worth remembering a few rules that will make this process more pleasant.

Code verification is not wasted time.

The code results in functionalities that will probably be verified and tested by testers. However, the code itself also needs to be checked. Such verification is the best way to improve the quality and readability of the code. In addition, a review of the code by another developer will ensure that none of the aspects of good programming are overlooked, which can happen to even the best of them.

Code review is also an ideal way to check for code defects. In this way, you can run static tests that will not replace dynamic tests but can also screen out some errors in the beginning.

Reviewing the work of other developers by team members will also expand your knowledge. Adding to code review, among others, people with less experience and knowledge of the issue is one of the ways to learn the details of a given project and introduce new people to the team.

In many cases, having someone else review your code, even outside the project, is the perfect way to broaden your horizons. Thanks to this, we can learn about alternative ways to solve the burning problem.

Code review takes time for both the person writing the code and the person verifying it.

It is worth remembering that this time should not be treated as a completely sterile period. For this purpose, developers should include the time devoted to code review in their plans. This applies to people who create the code, as well as those who verify it.

It is worth mentioning that the code review process cannot last very long. During this time, the person whose code is verified may take up further tasks, but the comfort of work will probably be disturbed. Microsoft’s research shows that checking the code for too long may negatively affect job satisfaction and productivity.

Before submitting your code to code review, it is essential to prepare for this process correctly.

Before submitting your code for evaluation, it’s a good idea to review it yourself. There is nothing worse than validating your code with trivial errors that can be avoided by quickly looking at the code. In addition, it is worth checking what we have changed before the commit because sometimes it may turn out that we have made an unwanted change inadvertently.

Another thing is to run the tests. This will allow you to check the changes under the test guidelines quickly. Currently, many code review tools run tests by themselves before submitting code for review.

It is also worth being patient and understanding. Many developers consider written code almost like their own child. This is not entirely a healthy approach. The code evolves, so it’s not worth fighting hard, accepting constructive criticism, and making necessary changes.

The process of reviewing the code is finally submitting comments and comments.

The quality of these submissions depends on several factors, and we should strive to provide the highest level of feedback for the developer who goes through the code review process.

In addition to reserving the time for code review, which I write about above, it is also essential to select people for verification. They should be employees with experience in the given part of the project. They can often provide interesting and sometimes unique information about the issue that directly affects the code being checked. It’s also a good idea to add seniors to the code review.

The evaluator should make comments as constructive and clear as possible. Don’t waste time commenting on unrelated code. Also, comments about code that is yet to be created are redundant. Praise and congratulations should also not take place in the remarks of the reviewer.

The code review process cannot take place without dedicated tools.

They allow you to submit comments and follow the verification process comfortably. In addition, there are many tools at your disposal that enable you to automate many elements of code review and make the process more pleasant for both the reviewer and the assessed person. These can be tools created inside the company and dedicated platforms, such as Collaborator or GitLab.

Good code review platforms should be quick and allow you to follow the verification process cycle easily. Integration with other platforms is also essential, especially when managing branches, tests, or automatic tools for verifying static code. The selected device should also be able to set up several reviewers or even block merges without the approval of the evaluators.

Of course, apart from the comments themselves, it is worth allowing the evaluator and the author of the code to communicate informally. It does not matter if it will be a chat in the code review tool itself or one of the external solutions such as Skype, Hangouts, or Slack. What is essential is that the final meeting can occur “face-to-face at a critical moment.”

Summary

The code review process is not a cure for all software development problems. It will not replace QA and make the code error-free, and every developer will quickly learn what is happening in the project.

However, it will allow for at least partial propagation of information. It will enable you to take care of good practices in the code and detect basic errors in static code analysis.

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