Managing code reviews for large-scale projects can be challenging, as the volume and complexity of the code might seem overwhelming. However, code reviews are essential for guaranteeing the quality and maintainability of the codebase, as well as identifying and addressing performance bottlenecks.
Today we’ll cover some best practices your team should follow when performing code reviews on large-scale projects.
Divide and conquer
Break the codebase into smaller, manageable chunks and assign specific sections to different team members for review. This will make the process more manageable and ensure you don’t overlook areas of the code. There are several ways you can divide the codebase into manageable chunks:
- Functionality-based: Divide the codebase based on the different functionalities or features of the project. For example, you can divide a codebase into the frontend, backend, and database sections.
- Modularity-based: Divide the codebase based on the different modules or components of the project. This approach can be especially useful for projects with complex codebases.
- Team-based: Assign different sections of the codebase to different teams or team members. This way, they’ll view all areas of the codebase, and no one team member will be overwhelmed.
Prioritize high-risk areas
Identify the areas of the codebase that are most critical to the project's success and focus on these areas first. This will ensure you identify and address potential issues as soon as possible, reducing the risk of delays or setbacks. Here are some ways to identify high-risk areas in a codebase:
- Identify areas of the codebase that are most frequently changed or updated. These areas may be more prone to errors and should be reviewed more frequently.
- Look for areas of the codebase that are critical to the functionality or performance of the project. For example, you should consider high-risk the code responsible for handling user authentication or sensitive data.
- Identify areas of the codebase that are new or untested. New code is more prone to errors, and untested code may contain hidden bugs.
- Analyze the codebase using automated tools like Codacy Quality for static analysis, which can help identify areas of the codebase that are most likely to contain errors or bugs.
Once you have identified high-risk areas, prioritize these areas for review, focusing on them before moving on to lower-risk areas. However, prioritizing high-risk areas does not mean neglecting the rest of the codebase but rather focusing on the most critical areas first.
Automate where possible
Automating certain aspects of the review process can make the process more efficient and effective. For example, automated tools can help to identify potential issues in the codebase and standardize the review process, making it more consistent and objective.
With Codacy Quality, your team can make sure the codebase adherence to coding conventions, such as style guidelines. They can also identify potential issues such as bugs, security vulnerabilities, or performance bottlenecks, guarantee code coverage and tackle technical debt.
By automating certain aspects of the code review process, you can make the process more efficient and effective and also standardize the review process.
Effective communication can foster a collaborative and productive work environment and make the code review process smoother. Here are some ways to effectively communicate when conducting code reviews:
- Set clear guidelines: Establish guidelines for what your team should review and how they should report and track issues. This can help your team understand the expectations and participate effectively.
- Make sure everyone understands their roles: Clearly communicate the roles and responsibilities of all team members involved in the code review process. Make sure everyone understands their role and how it contributes to the overall process.
- Encourage open communication: Create a culture of transparency and feedback by encouraging open communication between team members. This ensures that any issues or concerns are identified and addressed quickly and can also help to promote team learning and development.
- Use code review tools: Your code review tools should support communication and collaboration, like comments and annotations. This will allow your team to have an organized way to communicate and track the progress of the review process.
- Provide feedback and recognition: Regularly provide feedback and recognition for the team member’s efforts and contributions, and help them understand their work's impact on the project.
Schedule regular code reviews throughout the development process rather than waiting until the end. This will help identify issues early on and allow for timely course correction, reducing the risk of delays. Here are some ways to conduct regular code reviews:
- Establish a schedule: Set up a schedule for code reviews, such as daily, weekly, or after each Sprint. This will help ensure all code is reviewed promptly and any issues are identified and addressed as soon as possible.
- Make it a part of the development process: Incorporate code reviews into the development process, such as having developers review their own code before submitting it.
- Use a pull-based review process: With a Pull Request review process, developers submit their code for review before they merge it into the main branch. This allows multiple sets of eyes to review the code and can help to identify issues early on.
- Encourage CI/CD practices: Automating the testing and deployment of code change, along with regular reviews, allows your team to catch issues early and fix them quickly before they become bigger problems.
Keep in mind that reviewing code regularly throughout the development process also helps to promote a culture of quality and accountability.
Rotate the reviewers
Rotating the reviewers allows all the team members to be familiar with the different parts of the codebase and can provide valuable feedback. It also avoids bias in the review process, as different reviewers may have different perspectives and can identify issues others may have missed. Here are some ways to rotate the reviewers:
- Assign different reviewers for different sections of the code: This way, all team members are familiar with different parts of the codebase.
- Rotate reviewers for different projects: All team members will be familiar with the codebase of different projects and can provide valuable feedback.
- Rotate reviewers for different team members' code: By doing this, all team members will be familiar with the code written by their colleagues and understand their coding style and best practices.
Focus on the learning
Code reviews are not only about finding bugs but also an opportunity for the team members to learn from each other. It's an excellent way to learn new coding practices, best practices, and problem-solving approaches. Here are some ways to focus on the learning during code reviews:
- Encourage sharing knowledge: Encourage your team to share their knowledge and best practices during the review process. This can help to promote learning and development among team members.
- Use code reviews as a mentoring opportunity: Code reviews are excellent for mentoring junior developers and providing constructive feedback on improving their code.
- Promote collaboration: Encourage your team to work together during the review process and share their thoughts and ideas.
- Use code reviews to promote best practices: Encourage your team to write readable and maintainable code and to follow best practices.
- Use code reviews as a way to learn new technologies: Use code reviews to learn new technologies and approaches and encourage your team to experiment with new tools and technologies.
🎥 [Webinar] Level Up Your Team’s Code Reviews
Join our Engineering Manager Kendrick Curtis and our Lead Account Executive Mark Raihlin in a discussion about helping your team perform their best code reviews.
Join us in our Webinar Level Up Your Team’s Code Reviews. See you there!
👉 When: February 2nd, 2023, 4 pm UTC / 10 am CDT
👉 Where: online – registration needed
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