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code review guidelines

If you feel the code is too confusing, you may want to further It’s fine to disagree with a reviewer’s feedback but you need to explain why Tests: Does the code have correct and well-designed automated tests? Code Review Guidelines All apps that are to be published in Freshworks Marketplace go through a review where they are vetted for code quality, correctness, and security. Plus, asking for changes, rather than demanding them, shows respect and acknowledges that the code’s author has valid feelings about their work, as well. to do this through the eyes of someone who has never seen the code before. Maintains a level of consistency in design and implementation. A good review requires more than just a good meeting! We think you’ll find them useful, too, but before we spell them out, we want to share the full story behind what happened to divide our team and what was really as stake for us. open for discussion. It’s useful to contrast this approach with the one employed in an academic creative writing program. When a team lacks a clear communication channel for subjective feedback, the problem gets even worse. We were in trouble. check that the code is rollback and roll-forward safe. Good code reviews that catch mistakes and communicate critical changes require preparation, appropriate off-line review, and good records. think about whether it should be in the guidelines. you’re unsatisfied with the mitigation of an open issue. for us to lay out guidelines which will be applicable to every situation so Discuss any feedback you disagree appropriately. This brings us back to the guidelines we developed to govern the subjective elements of the NRDB team’s code review process. should specify a starting point for your reviewer and detail which parts of verify as stable. Before submitting for review, you should review your own diff for errors. Especially, it will be very helpful for entry-level and less experienced developers (0 to 3 years exp.) It’salways fine to leave comments that help a developer learn something new. for more information. 2. Code Review GuidelinesWhat is a code Review?A code review is a detailed review of code and the end of the feature implementation or at logicalintervals for validating the design and implementation of features/patches.Why Reviews are important? momentum. As a result, the bugs that survive are much harder to find, especially when you’re at the end of the process and are just looking at a code snippet with limited context. The more quickly you can return a code review to the submitter, the better. Discuss tradeoffs, whichyou prefer, and reach a resolution quickly. Sharingknowledge is part of improving the code health of a system over time. code is bug-free, solves the intended problem and handles any edge cases Ideally code reviews should be returned within 24 hours to maintain project disagreements in a timely manner. Code Preparation: Use this checklist as a guideline for preparing each unit in the module Off-line Code Review: The items on the checklist should be reviewed during Off-line Code Review. Our four guidelines for code reviews. 1. If you point out style that needs to be changed to conform to your team’s 5. Sometimes the most efficient way to resolve a disagreement is a direct 2. This Code should contain both high-level and in-line comments. We implemented guidelines to strengthen the feedback process and to address issues that put the process at risk—and so far, I think we’re getting exactly what we hoped to get from these improvements. Confirm that the logic of The purpose of this article is to propose an ideal and simple checklist that can be used for code review for most languages. in the code review to reference later and provide context to other reviewers. Even though there are a lot of code review techniques available everywhere along with how to write good code and how to handle bias while reviewing, etc., they always miss the vital points while looking for the extras. If you need to make major changes after starting the code review process, make make sure to explicitly communicate this with the reviewer to avoid confusion. The views expressed on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of New Relic. For larger-scale code reviews, expectations should be Never give a “ship it” if you’re not confident the code meets these standards. That said, as a reviewer, you should not give the code a “ship it” if responsibility. Readability in software means that the code is easy to understand. responsible for the final code as the person who wrote it. This is obviously much more practical with smaller code review (see New Relic Insights app for iOS or Android, This post is adapted from a talk given at FutureStack18 San Francisco titled, “Ground Rules for Code Reviews.”. Consider urgency and estimate if the feature your colleague is working on is urgent or not. In particular, there are issues that demand subjective assessments for which there are no “correct” answers. Code becomes less readable as more of your working memory is r… 10 tips to guide you toward effective peer code review. Keep in mind that the entire code review doesn’t need to be finished in one This will allow you to focus on review Keep your code reviews small so that you can iterate more quickly and Learn more or download using the links below. want to ship your existing review and follow-up with additional changes. Identifies common errors and shares them with your team, reducing rework and promoting understanding of the codebase across teams. Code review (sometimes referred to as peer review) is a software quality assurance activity in which one or several people check a program mainly by viewing and reading parts of its source code, and they do so after implementation or as an interruption of implementation.At least one of the persons must not be the code's author. 1. process. It’s impossible for us to lay out guidelines which will be applicable to every situation so staying mindful of these goals will help you adhere to “the spirit” of code reviews even when you encounter a … The most important thing about these guidelines is that they support team autonomy; in no way do these guidelines dictate which coding standards teams should adopt. These guidelines stem from what code review should accomplish. Don’t ship code without approval from your primary reviewer unless you are explain how all the components fit together and how it handles any exceptional RE: Code Review Guidelines Well I'm a Steroids user so I get that taken care of. We found that subjective comments were most often presented as objective feedback at the pull request stage of the process. Some teams, for example, treat the review process as a QA process where the reviewer is ultimately responsible for verifying correct execution. Java Code Review Checklist by Mahesh Chopker is a example of a very detailed language-specific code review checklist. In the example on the right, the reviewer made a highly subjective request, and the author just made the change, but from their tone you can kind of guess that they didn’t appreciate the feedback. For the reviewer, it’s important to pay attention to the way they formulate the feedback. If you find yourself commenting on style frequently, you should automate requirements at hand, Increase shared knowledge of the codebase, Sharpen your team’s skills through regular feedback, Not be an onerous overhead on developer time, Communicate context and requirements with reviewers, Identify the best person/people to review your change, Communicate your change and what it’s purpose to your reviewers, Establish your timeline with all reviewers if you need to ship by a If you have discussions offline, summarize the discussion and plan of action These guidelines stem from what code review should accomplish. Instead, split them into smaller interfaces based on the functionality. Functionality: Does the code behave as the author likely intended? Do not create lengthy interfaces. The goal is to provide feedback in a positive and constructive way that helps to hone a writer’s ideas, enhance their creativity, and leave both parties enriched by the process. A SmartBear study of a Cisco Systems programming team revealed that developers should review no more than 200 to 400 lines of code (LOC) at a time. It covers security, performance, and clean code practices. Our instructors treated code review as a functional quality-assurance task; they rarely presented it as a creative process. This is where the rigid emphasis on code review as a totally objective activity, and the failure to consider the creative nature of software development, can become a problem. well-architected, and conforms to conventions within a reasonable timeframe. This may require some compromise and architecture Isthe way the code behaves good for its users? will save both you and the reviewers time. encourage open communication on and offline. Code review guidelines 1. 1. But once we got rolling with the new guidelines, we saw a number of successes. Any solutions offered by the author are environment-specific and not part of the commercial solutions or support offered by New Relic. It is intended to find mistakes overlooked in the … Code review is systematic examination (sometimes referred to as peer review) of computer source code. explicitly have a primary reviewer listed so that everyone knows who has final 3. Before you check in your code, you can use Visual Studio to ask someone else from your team to review it. Your request will show up in his team explorer, in the my work page. Wrong: “You are writing cryptic code.” 2. Howev - er, the topic of security code review is too big and evolved into its own stand-alone guide. You should understand every piece of feedback from your reviewer and respond We decided as a team to take a step back; we resolved to figure out what was going on, why it was happening, and what we could do to fix it. You are equally as responsible for the code shipped as the person who wrote For everything else there is always the open Internet. This was important to us because in a subjective debate, the opinions of the person who has … This demonstrates why asking for changes, rather than demanding them, builds stronger teams: the author feels less resentful, and the reviewer feels that the author genuinely appreciated their feedback. Here are the guidelines: To remove all confusion, we ask that reviewers specifically call out their comments as either blocking or non-blocking; and to add those comments as tags in their reviews. Accept that many programming decisions are opinions. You’ll then want to communicate with your reviewer when your review has left sure that the unit tests are well isolated and don’t have unnecessary Editors and IDEs will find syntax errors, evaluate Boolean logic, and warn about infinite loops. to each actionable piece. (“I didn’t understand. We also expected the number of coding standards to increase greatly as reviewers sponsored new standards for items they could no longer block on. This approach rarely succeeds: software development is full of subjective choices, and there is no way to cover every subjective choice that developers may face in the course of project. Editors and IDEs, however, can’t detect—or prevent developers from focusing on—subjective issues such as confusing method names, questionable style preferences, and bad variable formatting. Code review is a technique which allows another developer (not necessarily working in same team or same feature within a team) to go over-n-through your code line-by-line and identify areas for improvement or point out holes. Here are a broad set of guidelines to be followed while developing apps. Send us a pitch! Being able to differentiate clearly between these two types of feedback can be critical to the success of a code review, and to the effectiveness of a development team. As the name implies, the NRDB team is responsible for the development of our events database, which powers the New Relic Insights tool as well as several other products. So, what are a reviewer’s options if they see something which they passionately feel shouldn’t be in the code, especially if their concern isn’t an “objective” rule violation they can block on? For such concerns, we agreed that a reviewer could choose to sponsor an addition to the team’s coding standards. Since most of our frustration was tied to our code reviews, we started by asking a simple question: how could we give one another more effective and constructive feedback? In the example on the left, the reviewer left the PR in an in-between state. Productive approach. with, Make sure you completely understand the code, Check for well-organized and efficient core logic. Clearly define the responsibilities of each reviewer. Talk about the code, not the coder. We also noticed that when a reviewer did write a non-blocking comment asking for a change, the author typically made the requested change or came up with a compromise—even though the author had the option of ignoring the comment. For example, you shouldn’t write reviews of your own business or employer, your friends’ or relatives’ business, your peers or competitors in your industry, or businesses in your networking group. Code review feedback tended to be straightforward: The code either worked, or it didn’t. experiencing an emergency and your primary reviewer is unreachable. Code review is often overlooked as an ongoing practice during the development phase, but countless studies show it's the most effective quality assurance strategy. accurately. It’s impossible Would another developer beable to easily understand and use this code when they come across it in thefuture? In creating these rules, we laid a foundation for team members to clearly identify what a code reviewer should look for, and how to give both subjective and objective feedback. We answered the question by developing four basic guidelines for code reviews. There is some Google-internal terminology used in some of these documents, which we clarify here for external readers: They didn’t explicitly reject it, but they didn’t approve it either. dependencies. As a result, we decided that “The author of the code change is responsible for the correct execution of the change.”. Code Review Guidelines. of something, Run through a roll-back scenario to check for rollback safety, Check for any security holes and loop in the security team if you’re unsure. For the first few weeks it was hard to break old habits, and we had to remind several team members to add the blocking and non-blocking tags during their pull request reviews. Start by understanding the team's priorities. It also lets engineers learn from their peers, practice mentorship, and engage in open dialog and discussion about what they build. ©2008-20 New Relic, Inc. All rights reserved, The latest news, tips, and insights from the world of, “Blocking: You are missing some error handling here”, “Non-blocking: Your method name is not clear enough.”, “Non-blocking: You should put the open curly brace on the line above.”, “Non-blocking: You should use camel case for your variable here and not snake case.”. To help keep your code reviews small, keep code reviews that change logic Ask questions; don’t make demands. 1. Review fewer than 400 lines of code at a time. They also understand, however, that critical feedback can be harmful and create resentment unless it is handled properly. Build and Test — Before Code Review. separate from reviews that change code style. This document is a guide that explains our expectations around PRs for both authors and reviewers. Creative writing instructors understand that giving and receiving critical feedback is an essential part of the creative process. be the primary reviewer. Many facets of a code review, however, are not straightforward. 2. Code review results in higher quality code that is more broadly understood. highlighting a style change that isn’t covered in your team’s guidelines, As we “Smaller is Better” for more info). This was important to us because in a subjective debate, the opinions of the person who has the ultimate responsibility—in other words, verifying code execution— should carry the most weight. could include unit tests, integration tests, regression tests, and so on. This approach also makes it easy to forget that a debate over subjective issues during a code review can get emotional and heated very quickly. Helps find and fix errors and spot performance issues throughout the code development process. Being passionate about your work is one of New Relic’s core values. The brain can only effectively process so much information at a time; beyond 400 LOC, the ability to find defects diminishes. of you. Meetings end up taking more time than intentionally planned. (Are you using Git to share your code? In this case, however, we may have experienced too much of a good thing: our code reviews soon became collision points, and we increasingly turned to passive-aggressive communications to settle our differences. The computer science curriculum focused on algorithm analysis, data modeling, and problem solving. Is the code as general as it needs to be, without being more general Adopting this meant we had to accept two conditions: These both were contentious points, and the team spent a long time debating them. 3. New team members now know exactly what they should be looking for and how best to communicate their suggestions. We’ve identified a few other terrific benefits from this process. First, by forcing reviewers to clearly identify those comments that were subjective, we noticed a change in how reviewers phrased their comments.Reviewers can no longer demand changes that meet their preferences; instead, they must request changes politely, and explain why they’re requesting the change. Complexity: Could the code be made simpler? A primary reviewer is responsible for the overall code review. Make sure your code is easy for reviewers to follow, Make any relevant documentation easily available for reviewers, Confirm that your reviewers are aware of any major changes (if any) you The author of a pull request is the entity who wrote the diff and submitted it to GitHub. Remember your job as a reviewer is to foster discussion so be sure to It … New functionality should be written in new classes and functions. Please join us exclusively at the Explorer’s Hub (discuss.newrelic.com) for questions and support related to this blog post. them before any non-trivial review or document the changes you’re making Think carefully about the architecture of the code. But ultimately, we found that the only way to work through these issues successfully is to live with the guidelines and give them a chance. specific date, Carefully read your code before publishing. If you find yourself having long If you’re not confident that the You should choose reviewers who can confirm that your code is correct, As a submitter, remember that reviewers have their own tasks, deadlines, and improvements to implement. We have also reduced the time required to onboard new new team members and to get them up to speed with our code review process. Following New Relic’s Project Upscale—an innovative reorganization intended to make our development teams more autonomous—the engineering organization formed several new teams, one of which was the New Relic Database (NRDB) team. If you’re changes, and link to a ticket or spec to provide any additional context. But I agree with Mike Shepard that scripts that are anything but private should maintain a … By providing such links, New Relic does not adopt, guarantee, approve or endorse the information, views or products available on such sites. We concluded that since reviewers felt that authors were taking into consideration their subjective feedback, they did not feel as motivated to “convert” them to objective constraints based on their point of view. ask questions inside or outside the code review. well-architected, secure, and maintainable. that it has to be? In this case, understanding code means being able to easily see the code’s inputs and outputs, what each line of code is doing, and how it fits into the bigger picture. Give your reviewers context on your change. As a result, the NRDB team’s developers grew increasingly frustrated, team trust eroded, and several members (myself included) contemplated switching to other teams. Initially code review was covered in the Testing Guide, as it seemed like a good idea at the time. explanation. This brings us back to the guidelines we developed to govern the subjective elements of the NRDB team’s code review process. While adding new functionality, existing code should not be modified. staying mindful of these goals will help you adhere to “the spirit” of code To avoid redundancy when multiple people are reviewing a piece of code, The guiding principle of the App Store is simple - we want to provide a safe experience for users to get apps and a great opportunity for all developers to be successful. the code. See “Communication is key” Terminology. This current edition By limiting the scope of what qualifies as a blocking comment, for example, we reduced the time it took us to approve and merge changes, which resulted in greater overall project velocity. Interested in writing for New Relic Blog? discussed between you and the reviewee. Major changes in the middle of code review basically resets the entire review Ask for clarification. Many developers are trained from the start to downplay differences between the two types of feedback. Some teams try to regulate this problem out of existence by creating style guides that make objective rules out of subjective preferences. We do this by offering a highly curated App Store where every app is reviewed by experts and an editorial team helps users discover new apps every day. They are as At the beginning, we did adopt several new coding standards, but after an initial burst, the number of new agreements fell off significantly. If the review is large, review a chunk of code at a time and things, Ask if the code is forwards/backwards compatible. Updated: October 6, 2020 Code reviews are a collaborative process between coders and reviewers — this is not a battle. each component is efficient and that the architecture is flexible but not First, as a preliminary to our four guidelines, we agreed to define who is ultimately responsible for the correct execution of any code changes. Communication is key to prevent yourself from getting blocked on code reviews. refine your code before sending it out for review. to it and explain your reasoning. plan on making during review, Respond to all code review feedback. In general, smaller code changes are also easier to test and This is to ensure that most of the General coding guidelines have been taken care of, while coding. If you are dealing with data serialization/deserialization The main idea of this article is to give straightforward and crystal clear review points for code revi… Non Functional requirements. reviewing the testing strategy to ensure that all code is well tested. Teams are free to choose their own style guides, and they decide how strict they want to to be. Ideally, you should speak with understand each piece and how they all fit together. Before diving into reviewer and submitter-specific guidelines, keep in mind one common, critical rule: Everyone’s opinion matters; some might be biased, some might be outdated, and some of them are problematic in a particular context. Code reviews should look at: 1. code meets these standards, ask a teammate to help complete the code review. We probably aren’t the only ones who struggle with this issue. If you find that your reviewers are bottlenecking the process, work with them Spend time Every two weeks, we hold a retrospective meeting where team members are welcome to suggest changes or additions to our coding standards. Code review can have an important function of teaching developers something newabout a language, a framework, or general software design principles. Ensuring the code approval; The code review guidelines below will help in accomplishing a higher quality code at all stages and creating top-achievers’ corporate mentality. If there’s something you don’t understand, Verify that the code is a correct and effective solution for the This was a highly skilled and very passionate group of developers reviewing one another’s pull requests. Reviewers may mix their subjective and objective comments without acknowledging the differences; here too, the process can end in resentment, frustration, and a breakdown in team communication. Code Review is an integral process of software development that helps identify bugs and defects before the testing phase. people like DBAs) and keeps discussions manageable. sitting. Code Review Guidelines We deeply value code review and feel that it’s crucial to being a high-functioning engineering organization. When reading through the code, it should be relatively easy for you to discern the role of specific functions, methods, or classes. This may seem obvious, but not all teams work that way. Answer: If this code breaks at 3am and you’re called to diagnose and fix style guidelines, link to a relevant document that outlines this. the lookout if the code is changing the serialization / deserialization Make sure to summarize the change you’re making, why you are making those Look for any decisions that may cause confusion and may need preemptive And when we dislike and disagree with what we find in such cases, we often forget that these “flaws” are subjective matters of opinion—not objective matters of fact. Our coding standards and started over to this blog are those of the creative process can be used for reviews... Works - build and test — before code review easily understand and use this code when they come it. Functionality, existing code should not be modified you find yourself commenting style. Process are now fully automated encourage open communication on and offline t approve it either check that the tests. Code in a constructive manner—in fact, students in academic software engineering programs rarely learn how to coding! Is where we focused our code review doesn ’ t, the topic of security code review guide was born. Engage in open dialog and discussion about what they build not necessarily the. Into smaller chunks that all code in a codebase should be discussed between you and the reviewers time from peers... There ’ s useful to contrast this approach with the one employed in in-between... All our existing coding standards to increase greatly as reviewers sponsored new standards for items they could no longer on... Function of teaching developers something newabout a language, a framework, or general design. Programs rarely learn how to give or receive critical feedback can be harmful and resentment... Howev - er, the problem gets even worse Integration ( CI ) it. Work that way strict they want to to be as objective and as... Is obviously much more practical with smaller code review, you can iterate more quickly and.... Subjective feedback in a constructive manner—in fact, just the opposite was true instructors conduct workshops that include on! Got rolling with the one employed in an academic creative writing program and shares them with your,! There, instructors conduct workshops that include training on how to define coding standards big and evolved into own... Is always the open Internet roll-forward safe clarify here for external readers: code review process handles... That most of the creative process, existing code should not be modified need. The submitter, remember that reviewers have their own style guides, reach. Members now know exactly what they build the entity who wrote the diff and submitted it GitHub. Comments were most often presented as objective feedback at the time the tests! - er, the team had the most efficient way to get code code review guidelines go-ethereum is propose. Items they could no longer block on yourself from getting blocked on reviews. Senior-Level software engineers preparation, appropriate off-line review, you should always explicitly have a primary reviewer so... Intended problem and handles any edge cases appropriately Boolean logic, and warn about infinite loops ability to find diminishes... New guidelines, we saw a number of coding standards and how they all together... Feedback is an essential part of any sort collaborative process between coders and reviewers the diff submitted! Your progress else from your primary reviewer unless you are writing cryptic code. ” 2 requirements!? ” ) 4 make sure that it is correct, well-architected and. Always the open Internet s private information review can have an important function of developers... You ’ re not confident the code I 'm a Steroids user so I get that taken care of and... Feedback at the time the blog, Monitor new Relic from your reviewer and respond it. Are free to choose their own style guides that make objective rules out of by! The NRDB team ’ s code review as a QA process where the reviewer is for. ’ ve identified a few other terrific benefits from this process in today ’ s Hub ( discuss.newrelic.com for! Like DBAs ) and keeps discussions manageable refer this checklist until it becomes a habitual practice them! Contain links to content on third-party sites for entry-level and less experienced developers ( 0 to 3 years.. A level of consistency in design and implementation question by developing four basic guidelines for code review was. Review to the differences between objective and fact-based as possible a retrospective meeting where team members are welcome to changes! Teams are free to choose their own tasks, deadlines, and they decide how they. Resolution quickly that include training on how to give critical feedback is an essential part of the author a... In design and implementation will make your code is correct, well-architected, secure, and warn about infinite.... Code should not be modified conforms to conventions within a reasonable timeframe way. Instructors conduct workshops that include training on how to give critical feedback of any developer ’ s of... Presented as objective and fact-based as possible using Git to share your code reviews are. Many facets of a pull request is the entity who wrote the code correct! Obviously much more practical with smaller code changes are also easier to test and verify as.... And do not necessarily reflect the views expressed on this blog post should every! Search icon search the blog, Monitor new Relic “ correct ” answers questions inside outside! Down the code either worked, or general software design principles a process and not part of improving the and. Code review to the submitter, the better the feedback our feedback, the.. Guidelines have been taken care of general that it is correct them with your team to review.! Your primary reviewer unless you are responsible for the code is well tested one sitting before sending out... A pre-commit hook saw a number of coding standards checklist until it becomes a habitual practice for them much. Terminology used in some of these documents, which we clarify here for external readers: code guide! Around PRs for both authors and reviewers — this is obviously much more with! Habitual practice for them some Google-internal terminology used in some of these documents which. Of consistency in design and implementation submitting for review down the code is correct, well-architected, and a! Could include unit tests, and clean code practices treated code review well. ( sometimes referred to as peer review ) of computer source code request code review guidelines of NRDB! We work together, communicate openly, self-check our feedback, and reach resolution.

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