Code review, or also known as peer code review, is one of the processes under software development. It is the practice of actively and methodically gathering with one’s fellow programmers to examine each other’s code for problems.
This process has been proven to be very helpful in speeding up and optimising the software development process. One of the most fundamental purposes of code review is to inspect if there are any bugs, errors, and to check the compliance with the organization’s quality requirements. One-sided comments might not be enough to assure the quality of the code; hence it is crucial to get the collective team’s improved coding skills which are profiting for this process. Code reviews can assist any team, independent of the development approach. An agile team, on the other hand, can reap significant benefits since work is distributed around the team. Nobody knows everything there is to know about a specific area of the code base. Simply said, reviewing aid knowledge transfer within the team and across the code base.
In this article, we are going to look at some of the best practices that may be applied during code review in agile software development. Do note that, these are just some of them. There may be more tips and tricks to this which you could refer to available on the internet.
1. Reviewing The Types Of Code Review And Picks The Best
There are multiple types of code reviews that have been introduced. For instance, the instant code review, the synchronous code review, the asynchronous code review, the once-in-a-while code review.
Each of these types of code review comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. Hence, it is highly recommended to review every type before deciding which will benefit and is most suitable to be implemented in your organization. After thorough reviewing has been done, then only you can proceed with the code review process.
However, you may try and error in doing this as well. You are not rigidly obligated to stick to one type only. If the type you are using is deemed to be not as helpful as expected, you may opt to try out with a different type in the future code review process with the consensus of the team members involved.
2. Assigning Suitable Reviewers
Not everyone could become a reviewer. It is recommended to assign certified reviewers for the development team since they will be able to analyse the coding much better than most people. Certification displays that the person has the mastery of the technical components as well as the business features befitting the needs of the coding. Hence, they may even be able to detect something that may have been overlooked by other people. Not only that, but this may also simultaneously encourage junior members to hone their skills more in order to be certified with this skill as well.
However, some argue that peer code review may bring out the best among developers as well. Psychologically speaking, if we know that our friend will check and review our effort later, we may put more effort into the developing process than usual.
There are many arguments and opinions about this aspect. It is best to analyse the scope of the tasks as well as the available team player before deciding who should be best assigned as the code reviewers.
3. Establish Clear Goals And Standards
Before proceeding with code review, it is best to set the benchmarks or key metrics which include adequate coding standards. This will ensure that any software product generated in the organization complies with the company’s requirements.
Doing this may also provide clear guidance especially for the reviewers as for the key components they have to pay attention to. This may ease the code review process. Some of the suggested raw metrics that you may consider including in your list are Lines of Code, inspection time, and defect count. There are some other metrics that may seem to be appropriate to be included as the references for the reviewer.
4. Convey The Needs And The Requirements Clearly
It is critical to communicate the objectives and requirements clearly with all of the members involved in this code reviewing process. Failure in stating the objectives clearly may result in misunderstandings about the outcome of the product. Knowing what a developer is supposed to do will ease the process of accomplishing this code review process.
5. Set Limit And Duration For The Reviews
It is recommended that the review process is not done for a long time. Set an appropriate timing for the review so the reviewer will be able to wisely allocate their time to perform the tasks.
There have been many opinions on how to set a suitable time for code reviews. Some say not to review longer than 60 minutes since that will reduce the quality of analysing and attention towards the detail of the code. It is best to conduct short reviewing sessions. You can review it more regularly in short sessions rather than cramming everything in one single and long session.
That aside, you may also set a limit to how much a reviewer is tasked to review at one time. Reviewing long codes may inhibit the ability to detect any bugs and errors hence it is best to assign a smaller number of code lines to be reviewed at one time.
6. Automate Testing
Aside from performing coding that meets the requirements, it is also important to keep in mind the testing process. Development teams should integrate unit, regression, performance, and security testing in their agile estimates as test-driven development processes and automated testing technologies have improved.
Before proceeding with reviewing, it is best to perform the build and test process first. Performing automated checks will eliminate the errors first hence will save a lot of time for the manual reviewing.
7. Utilization Of Software Or Application
There have always been different opinions about doing things manually or with the help of software utilization. As for me, I believe both are helpful and it won’t hurt much to apply both at the same time.
Nowadays, there has been a boasting rise in the number of software and applications that could assist in the processes of software development, code review included. Hence, it may be faster and easier to utilize software during code review.
You may gain access to multiple code review tools, either paid or even for free. Some of the renowned applications which could be used in code reviewing are CodeScene, Crucible, Reviewable, Phabricator, Visual Expert, GitHub, Review Board, Collaborator, and many more. These applications mostly come with features that assist in code reviewing. That aside, some applications may also be featured with a unique or special feature that may be absent in other available tools. Hence, it is best to review the tools before picking one to be utilized in your team, or your organization generally. This may not only help to enhance the efficiency of your organization but also boost up and cater to the needs of your team especially in this code reviewing process.
8. Breaking Them Into Small Tasks
Remember that we are doing an agile code review here and agile basically defines as chunking processes into small tasks. Maximise the process of this code review in the nature of agile methodology. Segregate them down into tiny user stories and tasks. This implies that the developer will create small chunks of code and the reviewer will also review small tasks before proceeding with the next iteration. This will not only help in enhancing the detection of probable errors but it will also improve the review time. Bigger tasks may take even up to hours but by chunking the tasks, this may be done in mere minutes. Hence, more things and goals could be accomplished within the allocated time.
9. Provide Constructive Review
Try not to be too disparaging and critical in the reviewing processes. Provide constructive and helpful feedback instead. Rather than making pronouncements, it is best to ask questions to clarify more on the work of your peers’ code. Other than that, remember to constantly provide positive encouragement for the team members involved and the peers. This is not a competition, but something to bring out the best for the sake of the company. Not only will one member helps to review the code provided by others, but their code will also be reviewed hence doing this constructively will assure the best benefits for themselves as well as for the company.
10. Addressing Disagreements And Arguments Fairly
There were times where the developer and reviewer will clash in their opinions. All of their justification and opinions on the matter should be addressed. It is good to encourage all team members to be critical in their thinking while reviewing since this will further develop their skills and as improvements in the future. If the developer disagrees with the reviewer, you may want to allow them to justify and clarify their thoughts on why they performed the tasks the way they did.
In the cases of arguments and clashing opinions, the team leader may need to judge the opinions fairly and unbiasedly. Even if the opinions of a beginner developer seem more viable than the experienced reviewer, you may want to consider what options that will benefit the organizations well and avoid igniting negative feelings for the team members.
11. Build A Positive Culture In Agile Code Review
Setting up a good and positive environment for agile code review is needed to ensure all team members know they are safe to give out their opinions discriminately. Building a positive culture will not only optimise their work before being reviewed but will also encourage the team members to be more critical in their reviewing. This is especially important if the organization opts for team code review. Besides, allowing other team members to do the review together will help them to see what are the rooms for improvements that they could also execute in their next tasks. In shorter words, build an environment that is enjoyable for both developer and reviewer.
However, sometimes, it is also necessary to do code review and discussions on a smaller scale. You may want to adopt to pairing code review at times, especially during the early stages of the project. this will lower the pressure put upon the developers. This method is also more suitable to be followed with face-to-face discussion done privately.
12. Track And Record The Progress
No matter what processes regardless of which approaches you implement, it is very crucial to prepare proper documentation. Track every progress made by the team members.
Keeping track and record of the progress will help to serve as helpful guidance and references in the future. This is to avoid your team members from repeating the same mistakes again especially for simple tasks. Hence, be sure to assign someone who will be responsible to take note of all of the reviews and the changes made to the code.
To conclude, these are some of the best practices for code review in agile software development. When it comes to software development, it is not simply about following agile ideas and practices. The development team must examine their agility-driving coding methods and architecture standards to release software that has a beneficial impact on end-users, addresses technical debt, and deploys reliably. This is applicable to code reviewing as well. Implementing agile methodology in code review may benefit the organization in a lot of ways if implemented properly.
Although this list comes with some tips that may be helpful for your organizations, it is also recommended to get coaching or guidance from experts. This include, experienced user, coaches, attending courses and seminars, and so forth. May these steps be helpful to boost your code reviewing in your organizations. We wish you the best in your future endevour and may your business prosper successfully.