What is code review and how important is to your company?

Management

Know what code review is and what its importance can directly impact the progress of your project, since it is normal that the project changes along the way. So, before passing it on, you need to forward it to another developer, who will review these changes. Only after all of them have been made, reviewed and approved, will the project move on to the next steps. That’s what code review is all about.

As the name implies, the code review is this phase of the code review. Basically, its function is to identify problems that may go unnoticed by those who are programming, besides suggesting alternative ways to solve them.

In fact, code review brings a series of benefits to the company, guaranteeing the delivery of better quality products. So, do you want to know more about code review and what is its role in your company’s earnings? Keep reading!

What is the importance of code review?

To begin to detail the importance of code review it is necessary to know that, in most companies, it is very common that there is some project being developed by only one person, being the only one who knows how it works. This situation, however, is bad for both the company – generating what we call individual queues – and the developer, who has all the responsibility for the project being placed on you.

However, when another developer reviews this work, a healthy distribution of knowledge occurs. By understanding the code development process and how the implementations of each feature were made, all members of the team responsible for the review are able to work on that project as well.

This way, responsibilities are better distributed and individual queues are avoided. Not to mention that it is extremely important to see how the whole project works, instead of just hearing about it in meetings.

Another benefit that details the importance of code review is, without a doubt, the productivity gain. In fact, it can even double since, by removing all the weight of one person and sharing knowledge, working together makes everything more agile – from possible solutions to certain problems to the decision making itself.

In other words, a more collective development environment causes responsibilities to be divided and no developer to be overwhelmed, which increases the overall productivity of projects.

With the code review, it is possible to create alternative solutions to the problems

It is rare that a code is well developed. In many cases, whether due to misuse of language resources or the speed at which it is produced, the code simply does not look the best way it could be done. Therefore, the revision stage is important. In this way, it is possible to check for problems and then always ask if they have all been solved in the correct way.

This inquiry, by the way, is fundamental for analyzing the solutions from several points of view. The whole process is great to make both the developer responsible for the project and its reviewers learn and create the best possible solutions in each case.

Especially for those who are starting in the programming area and still don’t have a very acute critical sense regarding the code, this kind of feedback allows a faster maturation of the professionals.

Increased sense of team

Another very common case of happening in companies: when problems arise in the development of some feature, the blame is placed on the person who implemented it. This, however, is not correct. It should not fall only on the person who made this implementation, but on the whole team that worked on the project, because it is of joint responsibility.

Since the code has been reviewed by more than one individual – who has done the testing and analyzed whether the implementation would be in accordance with what was proposed – the whole team becomes responsible for it. Thus, the team’s communication is optimized, so that everyone is always helping each other, exchanging criticisms and ideas, both positive and negative, being another point that details the importance of the code review.

This kind of relationship between team members ends up providing a much more conducive environment for everyone to feel safe with each other, being able to express their ideas together. After all, they are no longer isolated developers, but an integrated team.

What are the good practices of code review?

Given the advantages we’ve seen so far, we can conclude that code review is important not only as a methodology for finding bugs and errors, but also for adding much greater value to the development team – which makes it essential for delivering higher quality projects.

Now, what should be done in the company so that this whole process is executed in the best possible way? After all, reading the code a few times is not enough to ensure proper security. It is necessary to go further, following some specific practices. Among them, it is worth highlighting the following.

Have a wiki and use checklists

The first step is to have a document that contains all the practices made in the project. The ideal in this sense is to use a wiki as a living document, which not only can but should be changed constantly, according to the evolution of the project. It will serve as a reference point, and should always be available to developers and reviewers.

Also, since code review works like a search – so if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you probably won’t find it – another good practice is to create some checklists to be used as a guide in this code review. In certain cases, these may be lists with verification of authentication, data encryption, previous vulnerabilities and so on.

The code review should be executed whenever there are any changes in the code, even if they are small. Especially in cases of iterative cycles, in which minor changes can cause large serial impacts, generating unforeseen vulnerabilities by the team.

Stay alert about new threats

A very common mistake at this stage is misinformation, or outdated information. Due to the knowledge people already have of a certain area, it is not rare that new vulnerabilities are disregarded simply because of a lack of up-to-date knowledge of developers.

However, remember: new threats arise all the time, and they manage to exploit weaknesses that, until then, were not considered as such. Because of this, try to keep yourself updated at all times, along with how the new threats work, so as not to let any vulnerability in the code pass.

Incorporate automation to manual work

The analysis of a code is, yes, a subjective task, since it goes through a decision process. This, however, does not mean that automation is totally unfeasible. The reality is that uniting the manual work of the code review process with automation makes this step much more agile – besides adding to it a greater relevance, keeping in mind that certain human failures can be avoided.

The incorporation of automation can be done in the automatic search of certain patterns that indicate vulnerability, or of some flaws that are already widely known.

Use tools to optimize the process

Following still in the line of this help that technology can provide to code review, it is worth mentioning some interesting tools. All of them help developers to follow standards in development or shorten revision steps. They are:

  • Android Lint – this tool offers a very useful code verification when identifying and fixing problems with the structural quality of the code;
  • Checkstyle – helps programmers write java code, which adhere to a coding standard. Basically, it automates the code verification process;
  • Findbugs – this is another tool that can be considered a static parser, but works in Java Bytecode, and not in the source code. It identifies some Java codes that are more prone to bugs;
  • SonarQube – offers an open source platform for continuous quality inspection, in automatic reviews with static code analysis to detect possible errors and security vulnerabilities. This tool is compatible with over 20 programming languages, which makes it even better.

Besides these, there are many other tools that can be explored. However, it is worth remembering here what has already been said regarding work automation: it must be done as an incorporation of manual work, and not as a replacement for it.

Finally, all these good code review practices are fundamental to ensure that the process is always free of vulnerabilities and threats. As we have seen, this is a very important stage for project development. So, don’t forget to include the automation moderator, the checklists, the review at each change and always try to keep up to date with new threats!