Saturday, February 18, 2006

Coding Standards and Reviews

At the IQAA on Thursday, there was a good presentation on coding standards and reviews. I've always had a strong sense that code reviews were important, but I've never actually been to a code review that was worth the time it took. My current job has a standard requirement that all code should be reviewed, though, so I've sort of been casting about for a good style of review. Ed Gibbs has thoughts on the subject; so does Macadamian. But I definitely thought that as far as my company was concerned, Robert Bogue's talk got to the heart of what a code review should be. Not that we'll actually change our process, of course, but at least I'll have some talking points when the subject comes up :) (I'm a touch underutilized in my company, I feel. I have to persuade rather than insist. Maybe after another year or two.)

So here is what I took away as the most salient points:

  1. Code reviews should not be painful. Bring cookies; have balloons.
  2. Code reviews should have a point. Don't just bring everyone in and show them the code. Then they all say, "um, sure, looks good." Have points of emphasis; exception handling, say, or readability.
  3. It's OK for junior developers to comment on senior developer's code. I'm still groping on this one; not that I ever thought that they shouldn't, but the question is more, how do you get them to do it? I've known developers that come to code reviews, sign all the forms, but then don't ever say a word about the code. I brought the question up at the time but didn't state the issue as clearly as I would have liked.
  4. Code reviews and code standards are related. This one had never occurred to me before, even after, at my last job, I wrote a short article called, "How to get your code past a review". Now I realize that that document was actually a coding standard. I think we've got a coding standard around somewhere at this company, but I'm not sure where it is. I'll probably resurrect it at some point.

So it was definitely a learning experience for me, and hopefully a springboard to learn more about the subject. Mr. Bogue has a blog as well, subscribed!