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How Automated Code Review Helps Remote Team Work Synchronously

How Automated Code Review Helps Remote Team Work Synchronously

 

Code review is a crucial process to build the functionality and success of any project of a remote team. The quality of the code would probably make or break your project. Irrespective of the location and time zones of the teams, the process of reviewing the code cannot be eliminated. In today’s corporate space, distributed and separated teams are no exceptions. Thanks to the emerging technologies and modern working practices, operating remotely, whether from home or an overseas office has become the new standard. This presents a new challenge for teams to master. Not being in the same location and time zone makes it more difficult to communicate on a personal level with one another and harness the elusive team spirit.

Communication is restricted to chats or emails, leaving little or no room for team members to converse casually and personally. Often, due to the risk of misunderstandings, sensitive topics like critiques are more difficult to express over chat. Due to the same, the distributed code review method may become ineffective as the teams require constant input and communication. In such cases, automated code review practices come to the rescue. Continue reading the following sections of the article to know-how.

Three Ways Automated Code Review Helps Remote Team

Automated code review is a mechanism that uses a predefined set of rules to review code without requiring manual input. Since humans have limited resources, the process assists in the managing of vast quantities of code and works through team workflows and time zones. Personal bias or interpersonal contact is often not taken into account.

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1. Write Long But Few Words In The Review 

Keeping comments brief tends to be a good way to speed up the code review process. But in the case of remote teams, if each comment necessitates an answer for clarification and context, one fast comment may quickly turn into a lengthy, laborious thread that spans several days. For doing remote code reviews, the key is to write extensively! The problem that stands strong in the case of remote reviewing is that the team cannot rely on real-time chats and walkthroughs due to the difference in time zones. Hence, the only way to get things done is by writing down comments.

By mutual discretion, the team should come to a consensus as to what and how should the comments be. A fixed, general format should be decided with regards to the comments. For instance, the team can want a write-up pattern to deal with problems and errors in the review. A write-up should include all the details about the code such as the purpose, history and the other features of the code. The author of the same should assume that the reviewer is unaware of the details of the code and so should narrate the entire code story in the write-up.

A similar mechanism should be followed by the reviewer wherein the reviewer should ask open-ended questions. All the comments that the reviewer writes should be in the form of questions that would help both the parties gain clarity with regards to the errors and problems in the code.

 

Must Read: Code Review: The Secret of Code Improvement

2. Take Advantage Of Pull Requests As A Means Of Contact

In an office, sharing physical proximity means there are more ways to bring up the need for a code review and move the process forward. When you ping anyone, you can be sure they are online and at work. Remote teams, especially those spread across multiple time zones, have fewer or no such opportunities.

Due to the same, team members prefer that for back and forth communication while reviewing, they should get in touch with each other on coding platforms like GitHub rather than other communication channels. This is particularly because people are available on such platforms while working and would respond faster. Remote teams become so obsessive with such platforms where they can code together that they prefer those mediums to communicate rather than other channels.

 

GitHub has supplanted other communication channels as the go-to contact platform for tech companies, focusing on code updates as the most mandatory, the most important communication platform. They get pull requests out early and have separate work-in-progress requests that people can look at and work accordingly, describing the issue and function and understand the scope rather than just the code. This allows for fruitful discussions while reviewing code that involves both code and product reviews.

 

3. Schedule Overlap Time And Work Together 

For reviewing more complex codes that touch various parts of the codebase, bringing in additional stakeholders for reviewing and commenting during code review also helps. However, if new stakeholders are located in different time zones, the request can waste a considerable amount of time waiting for engineers to log in and leave feedback. Instead of attempting to make this work asynchronously, you should determine that batching all of the requests, getting online at the same time two or three times a week, and resolving them all in a synchronous meeting is the easiest option.

It is possible that in the case of remote teams, a ping-pong match between various stakeholders exists where the comments are jumping around. Due to different time zones, the cycle becomes longer and the entire process is delayed. To avoid the same, it is better to make batches of the codes and review and merge them all at once. You do not need to follow the process every day but two to three times a week, the entire team should coordinate and work.

 

A practical solution to this is that asynchronous meetings should be held a few times a week to easily synthesize input from all stakeholders, then run it through by the team and look at the improvements that go out, merge to master, and deploy. That is how you can strike the right balance between regular product launches and enhancements while avoiding technical debt and maintaining quality.

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Conclusion 

Code review, itself is a risky affair and it becomes even more dangerous when the focus is on remote teams. When it comes to negative contact and teamwork habits, asynchronous code review may be a formula for disaster. There are a number of road-blocks that come in the way of the review that make the process error-prone.

The difficulties of code review on remote teams necessitate a greater reliance on asynchronous contact. Physical proximity and shared timezones are not open to remote teams. They will enjoy the benefits of working remotely without the bottlenecks if they use the complexities of remote work as an opportunity to design deliberate, explicit processes. The above-mentioned three ways are some solutions to deal with the problems of remote code reviews. With different levels of complexities, you should look out for options that best suit you and your team.

 

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