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Code Review: Tips for giving and receiving effective feedback

In the realm of software development, code reviews play a pivotal role in ensuring the quality, maintainability, and collaboration within a codebase. Beyond just catching bugs, they serve as a crucial mechanism for fostering relationships among developers, facilitating learning, spreading responsibilities and knowledge, and establishing a baseline for code understanding across a team.

Why Code review?

  1. Building Relationships with Developers

Code reviews provide a platform for developers to engage with one another, fostering a sense of camaraderie and collaboration within the team. By reviewing each other’s code, developers not only learn from one another but also build mutual trust and respect.

  1. Learning Method

Engaging in code reviews exposes developers to different coding styles, design patterns, and best practices. It serves as an invaluable learning opportunity, allowing developers to broaden their skill set and deepen their understanding of the codebase.

  1. Spreading Responsibilities and Knowledge

Code reviews distribute ownership and responsibility for the codebase across the team. By involving multiple developers in the review process, knowledge about different parts of the codebase is shared, reducing bus factor risks and promoting collective ownership.

  1. Baseline Factor: How Many Devs Know My Code

The number of developers familiar with a particular piece of code is a critical metric for code maintainability and scalability. Code reviews ensure that multiple developers are exposed to and understand various parts of the codebase, reducing dependencies and bottlenecks.

Tips for Giving Better Code Reviews

  1. Automate as Much as Possible ⚙️

Leverage automation tools such as linters, checkstyle, and SonarQube to streamline the code review process. Integrate these tools into your CI/CD pipeline to enforce formatting, conduct code inspections, perform security checks, and identify bugs early in the development cycle.

  1. Be Nice! 😁

Approach code reviews with a positive and constructive attitude. Provide feedback in a friendly and respectful manner, focusing on the problem at hand rather than criticizing the developer.

code review

  1. Be Specific 🎯

Instead of simply stating that code is not good, provide specific and actionable feedback on areas that need improvement. Offer clear suggestions or alternatives to help the developer understand how to address the issues identified during the review.

  1. Encourage Discussion and Collaboration 🗣️

Engage in open dialogue with the developer during the code review process. Ask questions to clarify assumptions or intentions, and consider scheduling speed calls to discuss complex or contentious issues in real-time.

  1. Know the Context

Familiarize yourself with the user stories and context behind the code changes before starting a code review. Understand who created the merge request and the type of changes being made (e.g., feature, bug fix) to provide more informed and relevant feedback.

Tips for Getting Better Code Reviewed

  1. Always Check It Builds, Runs, and Tests for Every Revision

Ensure that your code builds successfully, runs without errors, and passes all relevant tests before submitting it for review. This helps save time and ensures that reviewers can focus on higher-level aspects of the code.

  1. Make It as Short as Possible, but Not Shorter

Keep your code changes concise and focused on addressing specific issues or implementing features. If your changes are too long or complex, consider breaking them into smaller, self-contained merge requests to facilitate more focused reviews.

  1. Provide a clean and informative description

Provide a clear and informative description for your merge requests, including screenshots, details, and relevant links. If your merge request is lengthy or contains significant changes, consider including a review guide to help reviewers navigate the changes more effectively.

  1. Review Your Own Code First (Self-Review)

Before submitting your code for review, conduct a thorough self-review to identify any potential issues or areas for improvement. This demonstrates professionalism and attention to detail and can help expedite the review process.

Conclusion

In conclusion, mastering the art of code reviews requires a combination of technical expertise, effective communication, and collaboration. By following these tips for giving and receiving feedback, developers can enhance the quality of code reviews, promote a culture of continuous improvement, and ultimately deliver better software products.