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Code Review: The Secret of Code Improvement

Code Review: The Secret of Code Improvement

Regardless of whether you are relatively new to coding or have over ten years of experience, code review can only improve the quality of your work. Code reviews are one of the most fundamental processes of software development. It is the process of identifying bugs and defects before the testing phase. Countless developers often overlook this practice during the development phase. But several studies have shown that code review is the most effective quality assurance (QA) strategy. Without a set process in place, there is no way to know if the codes are valid or even working.

Code Review is also called Peer Code Review. It is the process of consciously and systematically collaborating with fellow programmers to check each other’s codes for mistakes. This process has been repeatedly shown to accelerate the process of software development better than techniques. There is a simple reason why this process is so important. It is that human beings write software. It is human to make errors. Therefore, the code is riddled with mistakes. The biggest mistake that developers sometimes make is to rely on automated testing to review their code. But these automated methods do not have the human ability to see and correct mistakes.

The Code Review Process

When the concept of code review first started, it was an extremely tasking process. It generally consisted of a group of people sitting together in a room and going over dot-matrix print-outs of computer code. The amount of effort that is required for this process made it extremely difficult. Yet, due to the results it produced, this painful procedure was considered to be worth the effort. However, everything in the world of computers is continuously evolving. Code reviews, too, have dramatically changed. Now, there are a variety of processes to choose from

Despite its effectiveness, long formal code review processes are not necessary for any situation except for software development. This change is because there is a zero percent margin for error in regulated industries. But many other lightweight peer-review processes have developed very well over time. Many of these processes are fully compatible with Agile workflows and their iterative production cycles.

Here are a few Agile-friendly approaches to code review:

1. Email Thread 

As soon as a code is ready for review, it is sent around to the appropriate employees via email. This allows each employee to review it as soon as their workflow permits. This approach is certainly more flexible than getting many people in a room for a code-introspection meeting. The downside to this method is that a thread of differing suggestions opinions tends to get complicated, and leaves the original coder to sort it.

2. Pair Programming

This the old over-the-shoulder technique. It still is the easiest and most intuitive way to engage in peer code review. Once the code is ready, the coder finds a qualified colleague to review the code. While this method is supposed to be lightweight, but if it lacks means of documentation, it can become too light. It is vital to track the process, and being too informal can be counter-productive.

3. Tool-Assisted

This is arguably the most straightforward and efficient way to review code. It uses software-based code review tools, some of which are browser-based. These tools seamlessly integrate within a variety of standard IDE and SCM development frameworks. This approach also overcomes many limitations associated with traditional methods. Such software enables reviews to happen asynchronously and non-locally. They keep the whole process extremely efficient, with no meetings and flexibility. It also provides audit trials and review metrics needed for process improvement and compliance reporting.

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Code Review Checklists

There are a few things that a team needs to do before moving on to code review. It is crucial to create a standard design before the inspection. The team must lay down a few parameters for developers to follow while reviewing. Even the expectation from the code on various factors of performance must be noted before the review. This will give the team a reference to check if the code is written in the required way. 

Recommended Read: The Ultimate Code Review Checklist

Software production schedules are constantly accelerating all around the world. Continuous deployment has become the norm, and developers are expected to deliver error-free ready-to-use code. Therefore, it is imperative to rely on the right tools for maximum efficiency. Code reviews will continue to remain a significant component of any software development team’s QA plans. It not only eradicates bugs but also identifies hidden flaws that might impede the evolution of the code in the future. Just knowing that other people are going to evaluate their code critically changes the way developers code. Code review not only improves code but also makes developers more conscientious.

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