Code review also referred to as peer review or pull requests, is a software quality assurance assessment undertaken to check code for its functional and non-functional aspects as well as bugs. While functional aspects involve the relevance and format of the code, non-functional refers to the security, scalability, and robustness of the code. Code review benefits are well-known and far-reaching.
Some of the benefits of code audit and review are as follows:
Early detection of bugs,
Enhanced code quality and security,
Facilitates shared knowledge and collaboration amongst developers,
Help developers learn the source code,
Optimizing code for better performance and,
Coding standard compliance
While these were just the technical benefits of a code review and audit process. Later in the blog we would look at how this process benefits businesses in particular.
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How Often Should You Review Your Code?
A survey run by Microsoft stated that developers consider code quality improvement, bug detection, and knowledge transfer to be the main code review benefits
Research conducted by Stripe shows that developers spend over 17 hours per week on average dealing with maintenance issues and about a quarter of that time is spent fixing bad code. That’s nearly $300B in lost productivity every year.
However, a lot of industries underestimate the importance and power of code reviews. In fact, in 1996, Europe’s unmanned satellite-launching rocket, Ariana 5 used its predecessor’s software. Thirty-six seconds after the blast-off, the engineers had to hit the self-destruct button owing to multiple computer failures.
But what went wrong? The rocket’s engines exploited a bug that wasn’t discovered in previous models and led to the crash of both the primary and backup computers. Nearly $8 billion went to the production of Araina 5 and it was carrying a $500 million satellite payload when it exploded, adding up to tremendous amounts of losses.
Therefore, auditing and reviewing codes on a regular basis is a must for industries and, businesses in particular, to avoid losses and business failures resulting from defective software, among other disadvantages.
How Code Review And Audit Benefits Businesses?
In reality, companies globally squander up to $85 billion each year just trying to deal with faulty code.
Therefore, the code review process should not be ignored because it offers significant advantages to enterprises.
Some benefits of code review and audit for businesses:
1. Helps ascertain codebase stability and scalability
Any software or application is a success if its codebase is stable and scalable. This can be checked and ensured through code review and audit.
Through frequent code reviewing, businesses ascertain if their software codebase:
has decoupled codes that facilitate future upgrades of specific features, without impacting the entire code foundation,
is capable of handling greater workloads and user demands and,
supports the compatibility of code versioning with updates
All these factors help businesses update software smoothly, enhance user experience, and have high conversion rates through their applications.
2. Maintain codebase quality and consistency
Timely and regular code reviews help businesses to ensure the stability and robustness of their codebase.
In the long run, poor-quality code can easily influence a business’ revenue while things may look fine from the end-user perspective. However, with the help of the code review process, the codebase doesn’t degrade over time as the organization progresses in building the products.
Since, a reviewer also checks for the consistency of a codebase that means that the codebase should be easy to understand and hence, more maintainable. A consistent code further helps enhance the velocity of engineering teams.
3. Cuts present as well as future maintenance costs
There are significant costs (technical debt) involved in additionally reworking a solution for a problem caused due to going for an easier or workaround development approach. Furthermore, JPL of NASA worked out an amount of about 25,000 dollars that are saved in each inspection by early detection and fixation of code mistakes at the initial stage.
Furthermore, not discovering issues and bugs timely may actually increase the development costs in the future, as project maintenance requirements would go up.
4. Identifies performance and security issues
The code audit and review process helps to identify bugs, bottlenecks such as application backdoors, malicious codes, etc., and outdated technologies employed in the product development cycle.
This helps in enhancing the performance and security of software.
5. Maintain compliance
Diverse educational backgrounds and training have an influence on a developer’s coding style. To maintain a standard coding style in an organization, the code review process allows businesses to document system processes, procedures, and best practices
Code reviews are all important for an open-source project that has multiple developers contributing to programming. Code reviewers assess the code before pushing changes.
6. Enhanced security
Being consistent with coding practices and review is imperative to avoid putting sensitive user and business data and information at stake, and restricting attacks from outside sources.
This is ensured through regularly checking for security breaches and implementing or updating software with the latest security guidelines and policies while carrying out code audits and review processes.
This helps product-based companies, in particular, to ensure the safety and security of their user’s personal information and payment details, and build user confidence in their application.
Code audit and review process can be carried out internally or a business can outsource this service.
If the process is being carried out internally, a business needs to follow the below-mentioned steps:
1. Understand your code review requirements
Before entering the code review process, it is important to know what purpose does the process server for your codebase. Understand if you want to find bugs before they’re integrated, identify security flaws or concerns, make sure that the style is consistent with the existing codebase, etc., a single target concern or multiple concerns.
For instance, if you only want to check the code for security purposes or concerns, then you would have to keep other things aside such as coding style or naming patterns and solely focus on security. Similarly, just prioritize concerns if you need to and conduct the review process. If a business is having a hard time defining an effective code review process, then it is recommended to review the code for its correctness, bug identification, and security concerns.
2. Ascertain the different ways of conducting a code review
The following are the approaches to code review:
Email thread: In this approach, code is sent through an email thread to reviewers. While it is a passive approach, it can become a very haphazard way of reviewing as content gets nested in multiple replies. As a result, content becomes difficult to manage and sort.
Pair programming: This method involves providing real-time feedback and recommendations to a coder by other developers present at the workstation. This way of the review is helpful in inspecting the code and training a developer, but at the same time, it is time-consuming.
Over-the-shoulder reviews: This approach is the easiest of all as it involves just the coder/developer and domain expert (reviewer). The former codes and the latter walks through it at his desk and suggests. It lacks a predefined structure, which can be both pro and con as well.
Tool-assisted: This approach involves using an audit or review tool available on the Internet to review the code. The selected tool can be open source or paid, like GitHub, BitBucket, etc. 60% of developers make use of automated tools and 49% use them at least weekly. These tools enhance the effectiveness and accuracy of the process.
3. Discuss regularly through group meetings and open discussions
The intent of the task proposed a solution and analyze if there is any gap in the proposed solution.
Hold regular meetings in order to check if the chosen process is working for the participants, the developer, and the reviewer. Check if the intent of the task, i.e., the purpose of the code review process and the solutions or the changes suggested, has been fulfilled or not. Exchange feedback on a participant’s experience of the whole process.
If there are any gaps or bottlenecks identified throughout the chosen approach of code review, work out solutions to make the process effective and hassle-free.
Furthermore, if a business decides to outsource its code review process, then it has to start by finding a reliable and experienced outsourcing service provider.
Looking for a Reliable Code Audit and Review Partner?
BigOhTech can be one such reliable code auditor and reviewer for your business. We bring in a fresh perspective, successfully identify bugs and bottlenecks in your existing codebase and ensure to efficiently update your software for enhanced performance.
The code review process involves regular checks for security breaches and updates in security guidelines and protocols, which are later implemented by businesses in their software.
Q2. How does Code Review impact performance?
Code review helps to identify bugs, errors, and inconsistencies in existing codebase and codes and helps developers to rectify or fix them. This enhances software performance.
Q3. Why is Code Review important?
Code review helps in the timely detection of bugs, enhanced software performance and security, maintain coding standard and encourage shared knowledge among developers.
Q4. When should Code Review be performed?
Code review should be ideally done at the end of every sprint of a product development cycle or at regular intervals.
Q5. What does a code Reviewer do?
A code reviewer reviews source code in an application to identify glitches or bugs that might have an impact on the functionality or security of the software.
Q6. What is the best structure for the code review team?
Over-the-shoulder could be the best one-reviewer structure for a code review team. It involves a developer and a domain expert (reviewer) to carry out the code review process. The former writes a code and the latter checks it after the whole code is written. Another code review team structure that is effective is pair programming. This approach involves two people who form a pair and are mutually responsible for the creation of the product. In this approach, discussions take place throughout the process of development.
Q7. What are the best tools for Automated code review?
Sonar, ReSharper, Code Climate, DeepSource, Code beat, etc. are some of the most popular and best tools for automated code review.