Code review is one of the most strong tools in the arsenal of a development team, yet it is often overlooked or used in a manner that leads to a toxic behavior, that causes more damage than good. Code reviews that are performed correctly can assist your team exchange knowledge, which helps considerably mentoring interns and juniors. Also, skilled developers can sometimes improve, as well.

Reviewers get to know parts of the code they wouldn’t otherwise get into, so it expands product knowledge within the team. On top of that, if developers realize that others will review their job, they will be much more vigilant regarding the code quality standards.

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Best practices

Review less than 400 code lines at a time

A SmartBear research of a Cisco Systems programming team divulged that developers should evaluate no more than 200-400 lines of code at the same time.

The human brain can only process so much data efficiently at a time.

Keep in mind that the ability to identify deficiencies decreases beyond 400 lines of code.

Take your time, don’t rush the process!

Tearing through a review may be promising, presuming someone else is going to capture the errors you don’t discover.

Anyway, the study mentioned above demonstrates a substantial decrease in defect density at rates above 500 lines of code per hour.

Effective code reviews => reasonable amount & slower pace for a limited time frame.

Set up metrics and goals

Setting up a process is fantastic, but setting up metrics to evaluate your achievement it is just as significant.

It may be really helpful to use external and internal metrics in order to decide whether the code review method needs to be revised. But keep in mind that this one should be a method that can be modified in line with the requirements of the team, product and business.

Be aware of the internal process metrics, including:

Inspection rate: the speed with which the code review is operated

Defect rate: the number of bugs discovered per hour of review

Defect density: the average amount of bugs discovered per line of code

Annotate code before review

Before sending it for evaluation, it is extremely helpful to correctly annotate a piece of code.

It is very helpful to generate self-describing code, but the correct annotation can make the review method much more effective in complicated areas of the code.

It takes less time for the reviewer to figure out what the code does. Proper original clarifications can also fix some potential problems before they even arise, or simplify the debate about them, leading to a fast and effective conclusion.

Use checklists

Everyone on your team can be prone to make the same 10 errors over and over.

Omissions in general are the toughest errors to discover because something that isn’t there is difficult to evaluate. Checklists are the most efficient way of eliminating frequently produced mistakes and combat the troubles of omission finding. Code review checklists also provide team members with realistic expectations for each type of review and can be helpful to track for reporting and process improvement methods.

Don’t forget: checklists for code review should always be living records and should be updated as needed from time to time. Another helpful tip is that for distinct programming languages, many teams use separate checklists, informing reviewers what to look for.

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Establish a defect fixing process

The best way to make sure that the identified errors are repaired is by using a collaborative code review tool that allows reviewers to log bugs, discuss them with the author, and approve code changes.

Promote a positive culture around code reviews

In order to have a successful peer code review, it is highly essential for the managers to develop a culture of cooperation and learning in peer review.

While seeing flaws as exclusively negative is simple, each bug is in fact a chance for the team to enhance the software quality. Peer review also enables junior team members to learn from senior leaders and for the most skilled programmers to break poor practices.

Also, involving each developer in the code review process is crucial. Junior developers can learn a lot. The product expertise will be spread within the business and team, and seeing feedback from both sides helps everyone get comfortable with the process itself.

Use automated tools to save time

Automated tools save the developers from having to put a lot of additional effort into completely following the outline on each line of code and attempting to capture them all during code reviews.

With such a tool, everything will go smoother and faster, without wasting valuable developer time.

Most popular code review tools for developers and testers: 

  • Collaborator
  • Review Assistant
  • Codebrag
  • Gerrit
  • Codestriker
  • Rhodecode
  • Phabricator
  • GitHub
  • GitLab

To conclude

So now you’re equipped with an arsenal of established methods to make sure you get the most out of the time your team spends on code reviews. But keep in mind that there are different effective and unique practices of code review that vary based on the needs of the team.

Remember: Code reviews are essential. They improve code quality. They make your codebase more stable and secure. And they help programmers build relationships and work together more efficiently.


Start delivering quality software on time.