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Unveiled Code Review to Navigate the Depths of Software Development

Updated: Apr 30

Code review stands as a crucial process in the process of software development, where experienced developers meticulously inspect code improvements made within Git-versioned software. This critical phase aims to reveal code defects, rectify mistakes and inefficiencies, and ensure adherence to best practices. 


While it can provide a great benefit for code quality and minimizes the risk in production, it should be carried out carefully otherwise the review process can easily delay the whole software development cycle and prevent teams from pushing effective and fast releases. 


In this blog, we will delve into the details of essential review practice.




Expert Evaluation to Minimize Mistakes and Risks


The review process should be conducted by experienced developers by checking the possible issues and inefficiencies in the code to reduce the risk of production errors and maintain a good code base. Bringing a wealth of knowledge to assess the intricacies of code changes would enable the reviewers to identify potential pitfalls, enhance code quality, 


Having an effective review process means that the code changes will be monitored and the defects and mistakes that have been identified would provide guidance for the developers. Therefore, by its nature, the review process would foster a collaborative learning environment. This will lead to behavioral changes and the ability to apply better coding practices throughout the organization.



Best Practices for the Most Effective Development Cycle


Code reviews serve as a beacon for enforcing coding standards and best practices. This ensures uniformity in the codebase, making it more maintainable and mitigating the risk of introducing inconsistencies or errors.


There are some best practices in this crucial step that organizations should adopt to have an effective review process. 


Reducing Time in Transition


The review process is executed after the code changes and any feedback provided by the reviewer should be carefully managed by the developer. Each time the status changes from development to review or vice versa, there should be a specific time between these transitions. 


The actions taken by both parties should be handled in a timely manner to keep the team's agility high and move to the next stage as soon as possible. 



One good practice would be to measure the time between these actions for each team and for the company to identify the possible reasons in case there is any delay in the transition. 


In order to ensure that the teams follow the best practices in the transition and are responsive enough to proceed efficiently, the reaction time of the reviewers for each pull request should be measured as well as the responsiveness of the submitters to any provided comments. 



Reviewing Limited Line Of Codes Each Time


There should be a balance between the time spent for each review and the line of codes (LOC) to be reviewed for the most effective cycle. The human brain has a limited capability to keep the focus alive so the review process at a time should be concluded before this limit is reached.


Comprehensive research with Cisco teams has shown that most of the defects can be identified around 1 hour of review for code changes between 200 to 400 LOC. This is an important practice to adopt because this enables the reviewer to state most of the defects while saving time by avoiding the unlikely process of catching defects with lost focus. 



Considering Batched Approach In Code Submissions


Adhering to industry best practices involves the practice of submitting code changes in batches, rather than individually. 


This approach offers several advantages, including the ability to conduct more comprehensive and manageable reviews. By consolidating multiple changes into a single batch, developers and reviewers can better understand the overall impact of the modifications and identify potential issues more effectively. 


Furthermore, this method minimizes the risk of oversight, as reviewers can focus their attention on a cohesive set of changes, rather than individual snippets of code. 


As a result, the process of identifying and resolving issues becomes more streamlined and efficient, ultimately contributing to the overall quality and stability of the software development lifecycle.


Please keep in mind that while taking the batched approach, the submitted batches should not exceed the recommended pull request size which is explained in the previous section.



Collaborative Cycle For Feedback & Improvement


The actions and the flow between Submitters and Reviewers are crucial to both define an effective way to progress and create a collaborative environment to create high-quality products and features. 


While both sides should be careful about their activities and response time, each reviewer or submitter comment carries great importance because it can either provide value for submitters to improve themselves or result in a complete time loss because of the carefree comments. 


In order to ensure that the process runs smoothly as a collaborative approach the following metrics can be tracked;


  • Reviewer Comments (The number of comments provided for pull requests)

  • Avg Comments Per Reviewer (The number of comments provided by each reviewer)

  • Receptiveness (The percentage of pull requests having commits after a comment)

  • Comments Addressed (The number of comments that trigger actions as a code change or comment)

  • Involvement (The ratio of reviewers taking part through their comments to pull requests)

  • Influence (The ratio to show the comments resulting in code changes after pull requests are opened)



Through these metrics, it would be easier to identify the value of provided comments and see how efficiently the review process works and contributes to creating more valuable products or features. 


The fact that the comments are resulting in code changes either can show the value of the comments and successful review process or the submitter does not have the resilience to hold on to the right actions they take. Therefore the metrics should be considered meticulously.



Automation Flows To Generate Efficient Code Review Culture


Automation enables team leaders to keep track of the applied practices and helps them generate a company culture of efficiency. 


Once the team follows the best practices highlighted in this blog and defines optimal parameters for response and reaction times, the number of comments, the number of follow-on commits, addressed comments, involvement, and more, leaders and managers should ensure that the practices are adopted permanently.


The workflow automation Valven Atlas provides enables teams to set efficient conditions not just for the review-related metrics but the whole flow including project, issue, pull request, and commit actions that will generate actionable notifications and insights to help teams create a company culture of efficiency and ship valuable products and features faster with less effort and risk in the production. 



Conclusion


Many researches show the code review cycle is one of the integral parts of the SDLC for software development companies that boosts code quality and the quality of the end product through optimization in the total investment. 


In the end, the code review process is more than a formality; it's a dynamic process that fortifies code quality, fosters collaboration, and propels the development team toward excellence. By adhering to best practices, embracing a collaborative mindset, integrating the review process seamlessly into your version control, and using workflow automation to ensure the best practices are applied constantly software companies, the teams, and each contributor pave the way for a robust and efficient software development lifecycle.


Valven Atlas, an AI-powered engineering assistant helps teams to achieve best practices through software engineering visibility and actionable insights it provides to maximize the value software development teams can generate. 



Feel free to contact us at atlas@valven.com to understand the missing areas and bottlenecks in your review cycle, and discuss how we can improve your capability to ship new features faster and more efficiently. 

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