A couple weeks ago I saw a great talk by Jason Cohen, founder and CEO of Smart Bear Software about lightweight code review (pdf of slides).
A quick summary of Jason’s talk:
- Up-front code review saves time and money by finding bugs earlier (backed up this claim with real world data).
- Smart Bear has a product called Code Collaborator which “enables peer review of source code changes before or after files are checked into version control.”
- His emphasis was on the process of code review rather than Code Collaborator, though he got plenty of questions about the software.
- They did a big study with programmers at Cisco (“the largest-ever case study of peer code review”), talked about the results.
- The most effective reviews are for less than 200 lines of code and take less than 1 hour.
- Maybe you can do 400 lines and 1.5 hours, but that’s pushing it.
- Positive social aspects of code reviews:
- “ego effect:” knowing that someone else will be looking at your code may help you be a better developer immediately
- you may learn a thing or two by seeing how others code
- Create an atmosphere where finding bugs is good – whether you coded them or not. Bugs found here and now are much easier and cheaper to fix (and less embarrassing!) than bugs that turn up after you ship.
Jason was truly excited about this stuff, which helped made it a great presentation.
Jason (& company) wrote a book about lightweight code review called “Best Kept Secrets of Peer Code Review” – they’re offering it free (as in beer) from their website – that book title link will take you there. I just received mine in the mail and I’m looking forward to reading it.
(Yes, I read stuff like this in my spare time. I am, in fact, a geek. And proud of it. Of course if you’re reading this far odds are you too are a geek, so you’re not surprised.) I’ll write more as I read the book.