What is Code Review | Why ,Benefits & Approaches
If you are working in an agile environment, you may have come across the term ‘code review’. It is a strategic operation where you break the source code into snippets in order to audit the code before it moves to the testing phase.
Table Of Contents
- 1 What is Code Review?
- 2 Why are Code Reviews Important?
- 3 What are the Benefits of Code Reviews?
- 4 What are the Disadvantages of Code Reviews?
- 5 Role of a Software Tester in Code Reviews
- 6 4 Different Code Review Approaches
- 7 Conclusion
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- 9 Suggested Readings
What is Code Review?
Short definition: It is a two-way communication between a coder and a reviewer. The agenda is to learn from one another, understand the application, detect bugs, and ensure that the code follows quality standards.
Long definition: It is a quality assurance process in which a tester analyzes the source code of the application under review. You can either perform this manually or with the help of automated tools. The process ensures that bug detection and resolution happen early to give the best possible code quality.
Why are Code Reviews Important?
You may wonder why you would need code review when you have a testing plan in place.
Following are the key benefits that will enable you to understand the importance:
1. Find More Bugs: It lets you detect bugs at the primary stages of development. As a result, you save a lot of hours and effort during testing. True is the fact that automation testing will help you do the same thing. However, a human perspective is sometimes necessary to find and fix logical errors.
2. Stay Agile: Given the strict quality guidelines and timelines we need to work in, you must have, or would soon be adhering to, the agile methodologies. This means you need to deliver the best results while meeting the cost and time constraints. With code review, you can create bug-free prototypes and share them with the stakeholders.
3. Quality Compliance: It let you abide by the predefined coding rules and standards.
4. Collaboration: Frequent review sessions will bring out the best in your developers and testers. Team members can discover their peer’s strengths and also assist them in improvements.
What are the Benefits of Code Reviews?
When you think about it, it is just another set of eyes looking for possible human error. But for just one benefit, is it advisable to spend time and more resources on this practice?
Well, here are a few benefits :
- Identifying code issues early
- Ensuring to comply with standard code regulations
- Increasing software security
- Implementing a consistent design and development process
- Improving team collaboration and cohesion
What are the Disadvantages of Code Reviews?
With every advantage comes a few disadvantages that you must know about. Only looking at the benefits and deciding on starting code reviews will do your business more bad than good. If you don’t prepare your team to tackle the issues related to code review, they are more likely to stay oblivious to the problems.
Know about the disadvantages here:
- Time and resource constraints
- Not every developer consists of knowledge about every project
- Not necessary for every feature or simple applications
- You cannot do a code review when developing a prototype product.
Role of a Software Tester in Code Reviews
A software tester might find the code a bit intimidating in the beginning.
It is best to pair up with an experienced developer for code reviewing. Gradually, when the tester is able to identify the patterns and business logic, things start making sense eventually.
It enables the testers to understand the core functionalities of the project and share their wisdom to resolve the bottlenecks.
Here are a few tried-and-tested ways by which you can begin your code-reviewing experience:
1. Synchronous Review: An informal review where the developer stands next to the reviewer.
2. Asynchronous review: Specialized tools are used to review the code.
3. Instant Review: Developer and reviewer pair-up on a single system.
4. Once-a-while: Developer shares the code with the reviewers who meet and discuss the updates.
As a software tester, you would ask the following questions during your code reviewing session:
1. How was this code written?
2. Are there any patterns used for coding?
3. Is the code easy to understand?
4. Are there any logic errors?
5. Is the code secure?
6. Is the log file for debugging available?
7. Are there any third-party integrations?
8. Are unit tests included?
9. What amendments are being made?
The best part is that you don’t have to be an expert in order to take part in a code review session. You can review a code even if you are at the basic level of coding. What would be your role? You need to see what changes have been made to ask questions.
Before you dive in, get used to the process by initiating with minimal changes. Understand more about them and when you doubt any change, add your comments and question the coder. Given the benefits, you would want to include code reviewing as one of the key phases of the process. This will ensure that you deliver a quality product that adds value to your end-users.
4 Different Code Review Approaches
Get to know about different approaches in detail.
It’s based on a formal process where testers follow a structured process to find issues in the code. It is also used to find design defects.
Under formal review, one of the most popular adoptions is the Fagan inspection. It follows a six-step process: Planning, Overview, Preparation, Inspection Meeting, Rework, and Follow-up. This holds the basic idea of defining output requirements for each of the steps mentioned. And while executing the process, you check each step’s output and compare it to the expected output. Subsequently, you decide to move on to the next step if the current step is working properly.
These reviews are mostly followed by developers, not testers, when they are reviewing a code that is not life-threatening in nature, I.e., it does not impact the software quality to a great extent.
There are four types of lightweight reviews:
- Instant code review or pair programming
- Synchronous or over-the-shoulder code review
- Asynchronous or tool-assisted code review
- Code review once in a while or meeting-based code review
We have discussed these four types above.
If review is done right, can prove to be an effective way to share knowledge and understand your application. With time and experience, you will eventually start realizing the patterns, know more about the nuts and bolts of the codebase, and have a comprehensive perspective of the application.
Just like code reviews, tests are also reviewed. Manual test cases can be reviewed by peers, developers, and managers. Similarly, automated test cases can be reviewed too. Sometimes, the processes for reviews of automated test cases are the same as that for code reviews, as automation may also be done via code. You can also read more here on how to convert manual test cases to automated ones.
Testsigma, a cloud-based test automation tool, has also simplified the process of test reviews. In addition, it also simplifies the process of test automation. Thus, in test automation and reviews – non-technical members of the team can be involved too.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is Code Review in SDLC?
In SDLC it is a critical part that attempts to identify and resolve code issues before the testing phase. It involves going through the developer’s code to find mistakes and fix them before moving on to testing the application.
What are Code Review Tools?
A code review tool is usually an online tool that integrates seamlessly with Engineering Workflow Management source control and work items. It offers you the capability to add output to your work items to present it to your team and stakeholders.
What is a Good Code Review?
It observes all the code changes and looks at the reasons why this happened. It is clear and does not overlook even the slightest of mistakes that are common when writing code. It covers code correctness, test coverage, and functionality changes and follows the coding guides and best practices.