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Top 11 Code Review Best Practices to Ensure Optimum Quality


August 22, 2023


March 27th, 2024

Code Review Best Practices

A crisp, clean code and a thorough code review are just as crucial for a robust, practical software application in any custom software development service. These code reviews help developers detect anomalies and offer avenues to enhance security and performance. Hence, performing a good code review is critical to the success of any application. A poor code review could directly lead to poorly written code, hampering the project’s output.

Following code review, best practices can help create ideal code-writing conditions. This article emphasizes best practices for code review that can encourage developers to put their best foot forward and ensure a successful output. Before we venture into the best practices, let us glance through what a code review is, its salient benefits, and how it is performed.

What is a Code Review?

A peer review is a systematic methodology for evaluating code for optimal quality by searching for errors, logic problems, uncovered issues, and anomalies. It helps developers improve code quality and ensure an ideal output before implementation. A code review, or peer review, is usually performed by team members other than the one who has written the code.

The reviewers could be from the same or other teams, but they must be experts in the domain. The right choice must be made as far as the code reviewer is concerned.

How Does Code Review Best Practices Prove Fruitful?

Performing a code review is beneficial, and following best practices surely helps in the long run. Here are some of the critical advantages of abiding by best practices for code review:

  • Early identification of errors, anomalies, and gaps in logic
  • Ensuring complete coverage of all test cases
  • Alignment and adherence with organizational coding standards
  • Legible, clean, crisp code
  • Widespread knowledge in teams
  • Constructive feedback with responsibility and sharing
  • Seamless QA and software testing processes
  • Increased collaboration between team members
  • Good quality codebase and documentation
  • Code maintainability and knowledge sharing
  • Mentorship opportunities for developers

What Does a Code Review Process Consist Of?

Generally, a code review process comprises the following steps:

  • Preparation of the code for review
  • Selection of the reviewer for a specified set of code
  • Notifying the reviewers of their assigned job
  • Inspection of the code by assigned reviewers
  • Reviewers give feedback on defects, readability, etc.
  • Rework the code based on feedback as an iterative process
  • Once finalized, merging of code with the main codebase

11 Key Code Review Best Practices to be Followed

  1. Build a Robust Code Review Checklist
  2. Create Code Review Standards
  3. Offer Productive Opinion
  4. Measure with Appropriate Metrics
  5. Throw Flexible Questions
  6. Limit The Rate and Speed at Which Review Is Done
  7. Go In for Pair Programming
  8. Create a Process for Logging Code Review and Its Resolution
  9. Automate Code Review Process with Code Review Tools
  10. Execute Tests Before Submission of Code Review
  11. Stick to Confirmed Norms and Principles, Not Thoughts

1. Build a Robust Code Review Checklist

A detailed code review checklist can greatly assist while performing reviews since a pre-listed set of functionalities must be checked so you don’t miss any. These pre-determined sets of queries offer a structured way to check the quality and accuracy of code from the codebase.

Focusing on your priority list covers various areas, such as security, testing span, readability, reusability, architecture, performance, and maintainability.

When the checklists are followed uniformly across the teams, it becomes easy for the entire review team to check on the same grounds, ensuring a streamlined result output. These checklists must be created to check functionalities like naming conventions, code comments, speed of execution, following best practices for code review, organizational objectives, etc.

2. Create Code Review Standards

Different code reviewers perform the code review of various components. Creating code review standards followed by the entire reviewing task force is essential so everyone follows the same standardized path.

Yes, variations will be related to specific functionalities, but fundamentally, they will follow the same principles. These standards also ensure that reviewers are not biased by their personal preferences.

The code review standards must include standards related to programming languages, security of code, understandability, testability, code format, documentation, etc.

These standards ensure that reviewers stick to a typical format rather than deviating towards other trivial matters, wasting their time and energy on non-functional areas. It also helps them implement related tools that can automate code reviews.

3. Offer Productive Opinion

Thanks to human nature, not everyone can openly accept critical feedback. The code reviewer must be aware of how the comments are presented, as this is crucial to creating rapport with the coding team.

What matters is that feedback must be taken with a positive spirit, and that required changes must be made. The developers must take it in the right spirit.

A productive output will assist the teams in getting closer and solving the issues. Yes, there must be transparency and openness; there need not be any hesitation in conveying the comments, or else you lose the integrity of the job.

However, the feedback can always be constructive and respectful, with explanations to convince the developers of the needed changes. There must not be any personal remark or suggestion that can hinder the sole purpose.

4. Measure with Appropriate Metrics

Measuring through relevant metrics is the best way to ensure you are on the right track. These figures assist you in finding out the efficacy level of your reviews and the relevance they will have on the further course of action.

The metrics could include inspection rate, defect density, defect rate, review depth, review quality, review impact, lines of code, code coverage, etc. These key metrics offer insight into how the code behaves and how it will affect the entire application’s performance.

Robust metrics-based code review tools can work well in collecting information about code reviews and offer detailed output in terms of different parameters such as performance, accuracy, quality, effectiveness, etc.

5. Throw Flexible Questions

Asking flexible queries based on code snippets offers the convenience of thinking realistically and logically to come up with factual answers rather than getting rigidly tied to facts. Developers find it easy and seamless to answer with creativity and independence, not taking it as a blame or error.

It increases the positive discussion, mentoring, and knowledge-sharing stage, giving it a positive output. It facilitates developers’ discussions of new ways to solve issues and increases their knowledge bank, whether freshers or experienced developers.

6. Limit The Rate and Speed at Which Review Is Done

As a code reviewer, you wish to run through the code speedily and find all possible errors as quickly as possible. But that doesn’t serve the purpose and may backfire on the results. Proven facts suggest the inspection rate should be under 500 lines of code per hour. If you go in for more, the defect density is sufficient. A slower pace for code review proves more effective.

It is also suggested not to sit for review for more than 60 minutes at a stretch. After about an hour, productivity may start wavering, leading to inaccuracies. Taking a short break can help regain freshness and thereby assure better results. It is better not to rush your review since offering quality output is much more important than finishing it quickly.

7. Go In for Pair Programming

Pair programming is an innovative style of code review best practices in which two developers collaborate in real time, one writing the code and the other reviewing it. This makes it easy for developers to share their knowledge and develop a solution-focused output. It also creates a collaborative workspace for them to function together.

Pair programming offers benefits such as solving complicated issues, transferring knowledge, sharing ideas and expertise, identifying errors and anomalies early, and increasing communication between team members.

It also assists in avoiding information silos by smooth collaboration between developers and code reviewers.

8. Create a Process for Logging Code Review and Its Resolution

Performing code reviews is highly important, but that is not it. As a best practice for code review, the main crux lies in collecting all the pointers that have arisen in the code review, documenting them well, and taking appropriate steps to resolve them. Mismanaging the later code review process will not yield good results.

The core code review process team members must work systematically to fix the anomalies that arise during code review. Automated code review tools could work best to do all this together through an appropriate defect tracking system. The process must align with the project’s scope and objectives to ensure a collaborative environment.

9. Automate Code Review Process with Code Review Tools

Automation is the key to an effective code review process. Implementing a robust code review tool is one way to achieve this. Automated static analytics tools, syntax checkers, style checkers, etc., must be leveraged to provide faster and more authentic reviews with automatic log reports, analysis of review comments, and a further line of action.

Select an appropriate code review tool based on your requirements. This tool can offer smooth usage with good performance, integration with plug-ins, CI/CD tools, code editing review features, templates for comments, third-party integration with other tools, and tracking the entire feedback cycle. Some commonly used code review tools are Bitbucket, GitHub, GitLab, Gerrit, etc.

10. Execute Tests Before Submission of Code Review

As a critical code review best practice, code reviewers must ensure they test their piece of code before handing it over for execution. It is imperative that the feedback you offer is valid and that the change you are asking for is feasible.

Simply reviewing the code and writing comments doesn’t suffice to ensure realistic feedback. It must be tried and tested before it reaches the developer for changes. This shows you are sincere and appreciate the efforts put in by the developers to make the changes in the code. This impression can increase productivity levels and bring out the finesse in the code reviews.

11. Stick to Confirmed Norms and Principles, Not Thoughts

Since code reviews involve technical and non-technical skills, it becomes essential for code reviewers to understand the difference between standardized principles and opinions. All developers have opinions, but when writing code, they must rely on and leverage the standard principles defined for code review.

Developers and code reviewers may have different thought processes and can convey them to each other. However, when it comes to decision-making, they all must follow the pre-defined and standard norms mutually agreed upon. Their perceptions must not hinder an accurate and reliable code review.

Some Quick Tips as Best Practices for Code Review

  • Aim for small, doable changes first
  • Don’t have too many reviewers
  • Offer a description of all reviews
  • Have a mixed panel of novices and experienced reviewers
  • Perform reviews daily
  • Keep in mind the geographic time zones
  • Stay respectful, grateful, and polite in your feedback
  • Give feedback in a timely and organized manner
  • Take it up as a team activity rather than an individual
  • Never include any caste, religion, or creed bias during a review

Wrapping Up

Maintaining and managing the health efficacy of the entire codebase is extremely important, and there is no better way to do so than following the code mentioned above review best practices. Doing so will surely make your project successful and enhance productivity and profitability.

These code review best practices are helpful and appropriate for projects and applications of varied sizes and segments, regardless of the type of technology, infrastructure, or architecture involved.

As an experienced custom software development and testing company, SPEC INDIA offers sophisticated and exhaustive development and software testing services with a committed and competent team. Our primary focus is to ensure enhanced quality at each project junction, target almost zero Post-Delivery Defects, and achieve utmost customer satisfaction with consistent analysis and even-handed assessment.

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