Part I – Ode to Joy
Since the launch of the seminal “Joy” work which hopefully doesn’t need mention here, we’ve seen everything from The Joy of Cooking to The Joy of Not Working (my personal favorite!), and so further to that deeply mined vein of authoritative works we bring you the necessarily over burdened… Joy of Code Review!
Joy, you say? Let me count the ways…
- I implement a task, using what I consider to be best practice patterns and guidelines; I slave over this, my creation, and when it’s done, I stand back and admire, much in the tone of an old master, this latest image of my greatness.
- Then I remember I need to get it reviewed…
- So, I timidly invite my Architect and 3 of his best friends to the war room to review my new baby
- After many rescheduling pauses, we finally gather…
- I hold my breath, turn on the projector, and bare my soul to the collective seniors in attendance
- 30 minutes later, having endured a ritual mind flaying, and the predictable but nevertheless enjoyable tortured examination of my parentage, education, upbringing and such fun rhetorical musings as “why do they let people like you graduate?” I slink out
- Follow up is, if anything, more painful as I’m reminded moment-by-moment of just how badly I’ve lived up to the expectations laid out for me by the senior team members
Anyway, so code reviews suck, amirite? But we all know we need to do them. Of course, we all know we need to do them for completely different reasons from each other…
- Kids right out of grad school know they need to do code reviews because although their code is, like, totally perfect, it’ll be good to show the old dudes their skillz, and for the old dudes to check out some rad new stuff that they might have missed along the way.
- Senior guys know they need to do code review because otherwise all kinds of terrible cruft will get promoted into the head branch and somebody (are you looking at me??) will have to fix it…
- Managers know they need to do code reviews because they read all about them in a book with a cool cover, and it’s all Agile and stuff, and let’s face it they’re being measured on code review coverage, so come hell or high water you’re going to do code reviews!
- And of course, regular professional developers know that code reviews, however painful, genuinely lead to better code, regardless of the pain involved in getting there.
What we have here, folks, is a social organization, complete with the crazy uncle, the embarrassing grandma and the pimply teenagers. And social organizations, as we’ve all come to know and love, are at their best when the forum in which they’re fostered exists for a reason that encourages the unstated, but nevertheless in-your-face activity of which those in the respective societal groups are desperately in need:
- Facebook? Getting a date. And then getting another one while simultaneously trying desperately to avoid the previous partner. Rinse/repeat. Seriously, I have no idea how kids manage today. At least when I was young and awkward we could hide behind the silence and foot shuffling of real face-to-face meetings. Now with a keyboard and the internet in the way, there’s nowhere to hide!!!! I’m off topic again… ahem…
- Linked-In? Getting a job.
- Myspace? Getting a clue.
You get the idea.
So code review as a social engagement… really? Parts 2 and 3 of this series of posts will examine how such interactions, fostered by social networking tools, are the best way to ensure code review gets done and returns value both to the participants and to the companies in which they work.