Code reviews – essential for effective, secure software
Last updated March 2020
To ensure software and websites are written thoroughly and robustly, developers can conduct code reviews. It is a manual and systematic approach to checking code, ensuring no mistakes have been made. These errors aren’t just coding typos, but inconsistencies and high-level security risks too. It is an assumption that all development teams are thorough. However, quality developers can be difficult to find.
Code reviews can be undertaken by peers and senior developers. The focus is on quality, keeping code consistent and ensuring it’s written securely.
If you want a system built, it is worth asking whether your developers will conduct peer reviews to ensure you receive the highest quality product possible.
Share project knowledge
Sometimes, only one developer will work on a project. Therefore, only that member of the development teams knows the codebase. If there is an issue with the system, and the developer who wrote it is not there to fix it, there will be an issue. It will take time for somebody else to familiarise themselves with the code to solve the problem.
A review with a peer ensures not any one person is responsible. Peer reviews enable knowledge sharing across a team to prevent these difficult situations. With several members of the development team having a good understanding of the system and any issues that may arise can be resolved.
The most important part of reviewing code is quality assurance. Code should be reviewed regularly throughout a project. Even the smallest mistake can become a large problem over time. The longer it takes to locate the error, the bigger the problem might become. If left to the end of a project, it may be difficult to find.
Errors could include anything from typos to unused (dead) code.
- Catching mistakes: Coding is a very manual task and is prone to human error. There is a lot to look for, the more eyes that read it the better.
- Security risks: If reviewing older systems, dead code could be the result of someone hacking the system. Finding these before they can cause any harm can give you a chance to fix any problems, such as bugs or stolen information, before anything malicious occurs.
Software rot can also cause problems, which simple code reviews should be able to pick up, updated or removed. Older code may be more vulnerable to new threats, so nothing should be overlooked.
Improved quality & security
Reviews allow specialists or more experienced developers to review particular aspects of code, such as compliance with security standards. Security is always an important part of a development project. Having this extra level of testing in place can help to identify any bugs before an application is made live and minimise security risks.