Code review is one of the pivotal elements in the software development life cycle because it enables the developers to examine the quality of source code. Think of the code review process as the case when the writer drafts the story and the editor reviews it for any changes to make it crispier and more engaging.
In this article, we will dive deeper to make you understand what exactly code review is, why it is important, and how to make your software impactful through it.
Table of Contents
What is a Code Review?
Code review is the process where fellow developers or Tech lead evaluates the code to confirm that it follows the software engineering process and best practices laid down by Industry or Company Experts. Developers analyze whether the code follows specific code formatting guidelines and whether the code meets functional or non-functional requirements or not.
When doing a code review, the prime motto of developers is to check whether the code is consistent, meets specific coding standards, or is suitable for the next development phase.
Code review is a peer code review, where fellow developers or programmers review each other’s codes. Thus, streamlining software development.
As developers create software or applications, errors are likely to occur due to oversight or a lack of experience in that technology stack, or a missing boundary condition or scenario while attempting to solve a complex problem through coding. In that case, peer-to-peer code reviews outperform best.
Code reviews are useful for identifying functional like Missed scenarios, Missed use cases, and Non-functional flaws like memory leaks, buffer overflow, and runtime exceptions in source code.
Hence, developers conduct a code review process to ensure that the software or application developed should be of high quality.
Let’s throw light on statistics –
According to the 2019 State of code review, “around 53 percent of software developers get their codes reviewed daily. Software development teams believe that frequent code reviews can improve code quality.
According to Smart Bear, conducting the code review process increases developer satisfaction by 3.5 times.
Don’t consider the code review process as one-sided feedback. You might have heard this phrase- Don’t let the bugs and coding errors spoil your project. So, why not perform a code review?
There are 2 Types of Code Review –
Here are the 2 types of Code Review-
1. Functional code review
In functional code review, the developers review the quality of source code by checking whether the syntax of the code is good or not and whether the code follows basic code formatting practices.
Functional code reviews are related to the functionality of the software or an application, so if the developer overlooks these code issues, then it might affect the application.
2. Non-Functional Code Review
While reviewing the code, the developers analyze the non-functional requirements, such as determining whether the code is secure, scalable, reusable, and easy to maintain.
Therefore, the developer strives to ensure that the code is secure, easy to maintain, offers robust performance, and adheres to the best practices laid down in Software Engineering.
Process of Code Review
Many organizations neglect the importance of doing code reviews, which could lead to potential effects in the future. For Instance – Meetings are taking more time than what was expected.
If your organization does not have specific coding guidelines, it’s high time for you to initiate the code review process.
1. Setting Early Expectations
The first step involved in code review is when a developer adds comments about the source code. Here, developers review their codes through the authors before submitting them to the entire team for review.
2. Set the Quantifiable Goals
If you want to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of code, then you should set quantifiable targets. Having defined goals helps the developers to become individually accountable.
For example – If you are setting a goal to fix more bugs, it would be generic. Instead, there should be a number attached to it. In that case, the code review process becomes less time-consuming for the reviewer.
3. Set the Time Limit to Review the Code of Not More Than 60 Seconds
Research studies show that shorter & more frequent code review increases the quality of work. It means when frequent reviews are conducted regularly; then developers need not worry about spending a major chunk of time on getting their code reviewed.
4. Conduct Peer-Review Documents
Here, the entire development team does the peer-to-peer code review on development, such as analyzing the requirements, design documents, and user stories to ensure that the entire development team is working towards the end goals of the project
5. Take 20 Minutes Break in Between Reviewing the Code
If you want to improve the quality of the code, you should review the code with fresh eyes. The developer can conduct in-between review sessions where 300-500 lines of code are reviewed per hour by taking a short break of 20 minutes each.
Ideally speaking in Bigoh, we try to do code review in the first half of the day as it’s always better to eat the frog in the first half rather than rushing this at the end of the day. Book our code review service.
6. Do a Certain Amount of Code Reviews Everyday
When developers know that their code will be reviewed daily, they will become watchdogs by doing a regular code review so that there will not be any delay in the development phase or processes.
7. Use a Code Review Tool
The development team can use various code review tools to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of code. Code review tools can be integrated into development workflows, helping the developers work together and thereby maintain the quality of code.
There are various code review tools that increase the productivity of developers through automated code review. Some of these tools include Github, sonarqube, GitLab, etc.
For Instance – Github has its inbuilt code review tool which allows the programmers to submit the pull request for getting code reviewed.
Another code review tool is Sonarqube makes the code clean by detecting issues in the code and accelerates the development of the project.
8. Use the Code Review Checklist
Creating a code review checklist is a structured approach that helps the reviewer and author check what things are missing in the code. The code review checklist enables developers to perform quality checks and approve the code on the codebase.
Here are some things that are there in the code review checklist –
Verification of feature requirements
Whether the code is well formatted or not
Whether the code is readable or not
Define coding style guide
Check for code duplication
Whether the code requires extra documentation or not
If you want to build a high-performing application, then consider doing a code review. By reviewing your code, you are not only saving the precious dollars of your clients but at the same time, making your employees happy.
Q1. What are code review tools?
The sole objective of code review is to improve the quality of code. Reviewer uses code review tools to automate the process of reviewing code. Various code review tools are widely available such as GitHub, GitLab, Rhodecode, Gerrit, bitbucket, etc
Q2. What is an automated code review?
To create a high-quality and secure application that is free from any vulnerabilities, developers prefer automated code review, where the source code is compared with standard guidelines.
Q3. What is the code review process?
The code review process involves the following steps.
1. Setting early expectations 2. Set quantifiable goals 3. Set the time limit to review the code (not more than 60 seconds) 4. Conduct peer-review documents 5. Take 20 minutes break while reviewing the code 6. Conduct the code review every day 7. Use the code review tool 8. Use a code review checklist
Q4. What is a code review checklist?
The code review checklist provides a structured approach to the reviewer to ensure whether the code is working properly. The reviewer needs a code review checklist to check the following things –
1. Is the code understandable? 2. Whether the code is following basic coding standards or not 3. Is there a duplication in the code? 4. Is it possible to debug the code?
Q5. How does the code review fit into agile development?
Every team member involved in agile development can learn from code mistakes. Hence, reviewing code in agile development fosters knowledge sharing across team members.
Q6. How does Automatic code review fit into DevOps and integration?
Ci/CD is one of the most crucial DevOps practices that aid businesses in producing scalable and high-quality products. A continuous integration/delivery has 5 stages such as “build/develop, commit, test, stage, and deploy. One of the most important steps of the “build/develop” stage is to do code review via automatic code review and linting tools such as SonarQube.
Q7. How does the code review be planned using version control systems like git and Project methodologies I.e. Scrum?
A good code is crucial for the success of the product and the business
Each developer should use the proper branching strategy, create a branch for each JIRA ID, and then submit a PR for review. Once a code has been reviewed and passed basic quality metrics, a Senior team member further merges the code.
Sprint should always include timelines for Code review rather than fixing review points later on, as this may cause bugs once a developer addresses the review points.