Why code reviews are essential to creating great software

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. Managers tend to focus 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.

1. 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. New, removed and altered functionality can be communicated and demonstrated. With several members of the development team having a good understanding, any issues that may arise can be covered by anyone. Problems will be solved competently.

2. Catch mistakes

The most important part of reviewing code is quality assurance. Code should be reviewed regularly throughout a project. Even the smallest of mistakes can become a large problem over time. The longer it takes to locate the error, the bigger the problem might be. 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 hacks. 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 and keep fresh. Older code may be more vulnerable to new threats, so nothing should be overlooked.

3. Better quality and security

Simple mistakes or even a lack of knowledge may lead to mistakes being missed and security errors. Reviews allow specialists or developers with good experience to review particular aspects of code, such as compliance with security standards, which they know well. This is especially important if security is a key part of the project.

4. Extra testing of code changes

All code changes should be tested once they are complete. This helps identify any bugs or broken functionality before an application is sent live. The more times something is reviewed and tested, the less likely it will encounter problems.

5. Learn new coding skills

Whilst looking over each other’s systems developers talk and search through code together. They may find something new, different or innovative which they haven’t experienced before. It may be something useful which they could use in their own projects.

It is a good way to share skills and interesting functionality that will broaden other developers’ horizons. This will aid other projects and generally improve the skill level of the team. This ensures the team develops and future projects will be creative and successful.

How does Alberon fit in?

Every system that we build is reviewed by at least one peer and one senior developer. This ensures Alberon’s own high standards are upheld and our systems are built securely and powerfully. If you’d like to find out more about our processes, get in touch.

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