As we learn from Google about how to navigate a code review, Michael learns to not give out compliments, Joe promises to sing if we get enough new reviews, and Allen introduces a new section to the show.
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News Thank you, we appreciate the latest reviews: Stitcher: Jean Guillaume Misteli, gitterskow
LGTM Navigating a CL in Review
A couple starting questions when reviewing a CL (changelist): Does the change make sense?Does the CL have a good description?
Take a broad view of the CL If the change doesn’t make sense, you need to immediately respond with WHY it shouldn’t be there. Typically if you do this, you should probably also respond with what they should have done.Be courteous.Give a good reason why. If you notice that you’re getting more than a single CL or two that doesn’t belong, you should consider putting together a quick guide to let people know what should be a part of CL’s in a particular area of code This will save a lot of work and frustration.
Examine the main parts of the CL Look at the file with the most changes first as that will typically aid in figuring out the rest of the CL quicker. The smaller changes are usually part of that bigger change. Ask the developer to point you in the right direction.Ask to have the CL split into multiple smaller CL’sIf you see a major problem with the CL, you need to send that feedback immediately, maybe even before you look at the rest of the CL. Might be that the rest of the CL isn’t even legit any longer if the major problem ends up being a show stopper. Why’s it so important to review and send out feedback quickly? Developers might be moving onto their next task that built off the CL in review. You want to reduce the amount of wasted effort.Developers have deadlines they have to meet so if there’s a major change that needs to happen, they need to find out about it as soon as possible.
Look at the rest of the CL in an appropriate sequence Looking at files in a meaningful order will help understanding the CL. Reviewing the unit tests first will help with a general understanding of the CL.
Speed of Code Reviews Velocity of the team is more important than the individual.The individual slacking on the review gets other work done, but they slow things down for the team. Looking at the other files in the CL in a meaningful order may help in speed and understanding of the CL. If there are long delays in the process, it encourages rubber stamping.One business day is the maximum to time to respond to a CL.You don’t have to stop your flow immediately though. Wait for a natural break point, like after lunch or a meeting.The primary focus on response time to the CL.When is it okay to LGTM (looks good to me)? The reviewer trusts the developer to address all of the issues raised.The changes are minor.
How to write code review comments Be kind.Explain your reasoning.Balance giving directions with pointing out problems.Encourage simplifications or add comments instead of just complaining about complexity.Courtesy is important. Don’t be accusatory.Don’t say “Why did you…”Say “This could be simpler by…” Explain why things are important.It’s the developer’s responsibility to fix the code, not the reviewer’s. It’s sufficient to state the problem.Code review comments should either be conveyed in code or code comments. Pull request comments aren’t easily searchable.
Handling pushback in code reviews When the developer disagrees, consider if they’re right. They are probably closer to the code than you.If you believe the CL improves things, then don’t give up.Stay polite.People tend to get more upset about the tone of comments, rather than the reviewers insistence on quality.The longer you wait to clean-up, the less likely the clean-up is to happen. Better to block the request up front then move on.Having a standard to point to clears up a lot of disputes.Change takes time, people will adjust.
Resources We Like Google Engineering Practices Documentation (GitHub)Navigating a CL in review (GitHub)Speed of Code Reviews (GitHub)How to write code reviews comments (GitHub)Handling pushback in code reviews (GitHub)The CL author’s guide to getting through code review (GitHub)Writing good CL descriptions (GitHub)Small CLs (GitHub)How to handle reviewer comments (GitHub)The Myers diff algorithm: part 1 (blog.jcoglan.com)Yagni (MartinFowler.com)You aren’t gonna need it (Wikipedia)
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