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What is Code Review and Why Do You Need It

What Is Code Review in Agile

Any software product, be it a website or a mobile app, is based upon code. The more consistent this base is, the more convenient it will be to work with it, for instance, if it is necessary to modify the project.

The main criteria for high-quality code are as follows: ease of perception, flexibility for modifications, updatability, and apprehensibility. However, the work on a project is often carried out hastily. Consequently, even experienced software developers do not always write code of the highest quality. Therefore, a code review procedure is conducted to improve the quality of the code.

Code Review is a process that involves other software developers to review a particular engineer’s code in an effort to check its compliance with standards, identify errors, reveal discrepancies in the style of coding, and test the written code suitability for an objective set.

In this article, we will tell you how the whole process works and what are the pros and cons of such work. We will also focus on the best code review practices.

The Code Review Process — an Overview

The point of this work is that any alternations made by the developer could get into the main code repository and would be released only after the rest of the team checks them.

The code review process consists of several stages:

  1. The developer adds new features to the code and asks his other colleges to verify these updates.
  2. Reviewers overview the code and leave their comments. Besides, it would be best to focus not only on finding bugs. To improve code quality substantially, it is also necessary to point out architectural flaws or poor style of coding, be it incomprehensible or poorly perceivable.
  3. The next step in the code review process is working with comments. If authors do not agree with some claim, they can reject it but they need to present convincing arguments to defend their point. If they do not come up with any arguments, they make the necessary corrections.

Code Review Example

After that, the whole process is repeated from the start and occurs systematically whenever a new portion of alternations is introduced to the code.

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Who Conducts Code Review?

It is usually done as follows: senior developers conduct code reviews — middle developers review juniors, seniors review middles, and other seniors or team leads review seniors. In case the company is large, it can appoint several dedicated people who would review everyone’s code and keep track of the general style.

If the team is small, its lead developer conducts code review, monitoring the project and the quality of the code written by others.

The Benefits of Code Review: Why Is It Important?

The code review process conducted correctly provides several benefits that are important as a whole and separately. Let us specify some of them:

  • The chance to fix errors that may cause issues in the future;
  • Compliance with standards and code style in the team;
  • Improving the solution architecture and design;
  • Verifying the compliance of the code with the task;
  • Improving the overall code quality;
  • Coders’ professional development;
  • Forming consistency in making specific decisions in the team.

Due to code review, the so-called bus-factor is reduced since while transferring a project to another team or attracting another person to the work, it will be easier for them to comprehend how everything works.

In general, a coder who knows in advance that their work will get reviewed by their colleagues tends to write neat and structured code and that fact alone increases its quality.

Despite all the recollected pros, code review also has disadvantages. We can name only two. The first one is the process length because some people have to spend time reviewing the code while others have to fix it. The other disadvantage is the increased project implementation cost since the developers’ time has to be paid.

When You do not Need Code Review

Even though code review brings obvious benefits, it is quite possible to do without it in certain circumstances.

For instance, it does not make sense to carry out code review when developing a prototype product or MVP (minimum viable product). A project like this commonly pursues the task to prove some idea, get feedback from users, or test hypotheses for further product development. Any MVP is always made as simple as possible, and developers will still have to radically recode such a project in the future.

Besides, code review is not necessary for simple apps done once, and when no one plans to change them in the future. Therefore, if you have no intentions to revise your project or change it in the future, you can save time and other resources.

10 Best Practices for Better Code Review

Each team has always had a specific code review process because much depends on the objectives pursued, tools used, and agreements made. Several good code review practices will allow you to optimize this process and maximize efficiency.

  1. Limit code review to 400 lines per hour because your attention to detail will wane over time.
  2. Do not review for longer than 60 to 90 minutes at a time.
  3. Set up and stick to a schedule — plan to conduct code review at the same hours on different days during your work week.
  4. Automate that part of the review process that can be automated. Use tools to detect routine and simple issues.
  5. Set goals and capture metrics so you can improve your processes. It is also useful to watch internal process metrics, including inspection rate, defect rate, and defect density.
  6. Abide to a constructive approach. Avoid destructive or toxic behavior.
  7. Two reviewers are better than one. If possible, involve several people on your team in the code review process.
  8. During the code review process, you should not discuss the code style. If you want to do so, you have to postpone the discussion for later separate debates, after which you should document the issues and never turn back to them again.
  9. Establish rules (standards) for code review and document them.
  10. The code review process is considered complete when you reach a consensus on all comments.

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While reviewing the code, add comments suggesting some actions:

  • processIf you see a spelling mistake, write the correct form.
  • If you cannot understand the software logic, ask developers to simplify it or instruct them to comment on the code.
  • If the logic is clear but seems unduly complicated, suggest your ideas for its improvement.

Adhering to the best practices listed above, you will make the code review process more efficient and enjoyable.

To Conclude

Code review is a valuable practice in the software development process, and the entire team will benefit from it when done the proper way. However, if you introduce any process into your work, you have to define clear goals to be achieved using it. In that case, you will achieve maximum efficiency without getting distracted by unnecessary things.

We hope this article was helpful to you. If you have any further questions and would like to know more on this topic, write to us, and we will assist you, providing advice.

Lvivity Team
Lvivity Team

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