10-24-2012 2-06-35 PM

Developers think code reviews are great… what?

on Jun 1, 10 • by Brendan Harrison • with 5 Comments

It’s often taken as read that developers think code reviews are just a pain in the behind. Maybe that sentiment is true when a developer’s sitting amongst his/her peers and getting interrogated on the quality of their code, but some of the data from a Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Klocwork...

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It’s often taken as read that developers think code reviews are just a pain in the behind. Maybe that sentiment is true when a developer’s sitting amongst his/her peers and getting interrogated on the quality of their code, but some of the data from a Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Klocwork seems to contradict that a bit. The survey asked software development professionals a whole bunch of questions related to code reviews (some of which we’ve referenced before) and here are two interesting data points that suggest developers see real benefits from code reviews.



So 79% of respondents indicate that, yes, code reviews have been effective at reducing the number of bugs found later in the development cycle. Furthermore, 43% state that code reviews have caused a fundamentally positive shift in their project’s direction. Cool.

Of course, in other parts of the survey, respondents complain about aspects of code review, in particular how time consuming and difficult they can be to implement consistently. Nonetheless, the data indicates that when organizations put their heads down and make them part of their development process, real benefits will be realized. So, the challenge is making them part of the process – of course we advocate a tools-based approach, making them more lightweight, and combining automation into your software verification strategy so that manual reviews aren’t the only technique being used to find implementation errors.

This data line-up with what you’re seeing within your organization?

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5 Responses to Developers think code reviews are great… what?

  1. Gregg Sporar says:

    We see a variety of responses at client sites. There is sometimes initial skepticism, but if the correct approach is taken developers tend to come around, and those who were the biggest skeptics occasionally end up as the most fervent believers. There are some key patterns that tend to lead to success:

    1. Start slowly – a “beginning today we’re going to review every single line of code” approach usually doesn’t work. Pick a subset of the source base and get some quick wins to convince the skeptics. Then expand over time.

    2. Set the right tone – review the code *not* the coder.

    3. Spend the right amount of time – additional tips here: http://smartbear.com/docs/BestPracticesForPeerCodeReview.pdf

  2. Craig Brown says:

    It’s funny. When I had the opportunity to get a code review a few weeks ago I jumped at it and so did my developers. They wanted to have some external feedback about their work and there was no emotion involved except curiosity and a desire to get better. I presume this is the case with almost any team.

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