Editors help authors catch errors. It’s human nature not to be able to proofread one’s own work effectively. To fulfill the aims of the software organization, software authors require the same assistance as novelists.
Creating software solutions is a mathematically repetitive process carried out by big teams of people from various backgrounds. That said, programmers are human, and no matter how much expertise they have, there is always the possibility that they will make a few mistakes here and there.
To avoid potential quality issues, software organizations require different ways to check their source code to check for inconsistencies that can lead to severe problems if left unchecked. This can be done in many ways:
- Code Review
- Pair Programming
- Code Inspection
- Code Walkthrough
- Technical Review
The most sought-after methods are Code Review, Code Inspection, and Code walkthrough.
This blog will explain and compare these three review methods in detail.
In the software development life cycle, code reviews are a stage where programmers carefully verify each other’s code for errors, odd formatting, or discrepancies with system requirements that could cause more severe issues during software integration. It is the systematic study of computer source code, sometimes known as peer review.
How do Code Reviews work?
In general, the review process evaluates four key areas:
- Code issues
- Formatting consistency with the overall software design.
- Quality of documentation
- Compliance with coding standards and project specifications.
After a developer completes work on an issue, another developer reviews the code and thinks about topics like:
- Are there any evident logical errors in the code?
- Are all scenarios fully implemented based on the requirements?
- The new code has been put through new automated tests; are they sufficient?
- Is it necessary to rewrite existing automated tests to accommodate code changes?
- Is the new code consistent with existing style guidelines?
The reviewers should be entirely disconnected from the project under review, as this maximizes impartiality and guarantees the code is legible and maintainable even by those who are unfamiliar with the project. Typically, reviewers will use a standard checklist to identify common errors and validate the code to the company’s coding standards.
Why are code reviews done?
Code review is especially beneficial for identifying security flaws. Specialist application packages can aid this approach. Automated code review simplifies the process of evaluating source code for vulnerabilities such as buffer overflows, race conditions, memory leaks, size violations, and duplicate statements. Another common application of code review is testing.
Code reviews should be integrated into an organization’s existing process.
For Example — A code review should be started if a team uses task branching processes after all the code has been produced and all the automated tests have been run and passed before the code is merged upstream.
By doing this, the primary development stream is shielded from bad coding mistakes, and the code reviewer’s time is devoted to looking for things machines miss.
In the 1970s, Michael Fagan started publishing several papers for IBM on software inspections for the Waterfall approach, which helped establish code review as a common practice.
The Fagan Inspection was a process developed by Fagan in which developers engaged in a formal meeting with four primary steps: initialization, preparation, discussion, and corrections.
While approaches have changed in response to evolving technology and development methodologies, the core goal of code reviews has remained the same. Analyzing the source code as a team fosters a sense of collective responsibility for the software’s advancement.
Advantages of Code Review
Code reviews offer many significant advantages, such as:
- Improvement of code quality — Code reviews improve code quality by finding problems before they become unmanageable and enforcing consistent standards. This results in powerful software composed of components for seamless integration and functionality.
- Promotes Knowledge Transfer — The regular study of source code enables programmers to pick up more dependable methods and best practices.
- Supports teams in improving documentation — Code reviews also assist teams in creating better documentation, making it easier for developers to add new features and upgrade current ones in the future.
- It simplifies QA testing — Another advantage of having uniform standards is easier-to-understand source code for specialists and testers. Read more about whether you can replace testing with Unit Testing?
Code inspection is the most formal evaluation. It is static testing used to prevent flaw amplification later in the process. The primary purpose of code inspection is to find defects, but it may also reveal potential process improvements.
The findings are documented in an inspection report containing metrics for improving the process. It can correct errors in the document under review. Thorough preparation is essential before the meeting, including reviewing source materials to ensure consistency.
Inspections help software products be more dependable, accessible, and maintainable.
How does Code Inspection work?
Participants in inspection activities follow a predetermined process and have clear duties to play.
An inspection team comprises three to eight people who serve as moderators, authors, recorders, readers, and inspectors. A designer, for example, can serve as an inspector during code inspections, whereas a quality assurance representative can serve as a standard enforcer.
- Planning — The moderator plans the inspection. The inspection team is given relevant materials, and after that, the team schedules the inspection meeting and works together.
- Overview meeting — The author gives the inspection team members a brief summary of the project and its code if they are unfamiliar with it.
- Preparation — After that, each inspection team conducts a code inspection using a few inspection checklists.
- Inspection meeting — During this meeting, the reader goes through the work output, section by section, and inspectors point out any flaws.
- Rework — The author modifies the work output following the inspection meeting’s action plans.
- Follow-up — Hold a meeting with the team after the code inspection to discuss the reviewed code.
Why are code inspections done?
- It looks for any software code errors that might be present.
- It indicates any necessary process improvements.
- It determines if the coding standard has been adhered to or not.
- It lists the errors found in the software code.
- Codes are peer-reviewed in this process.
Advantages of Code Inspection
- Enhances the overall product quality.
- Finds the flaws/bugs in the program code.
- In any event, it shows a process improvement.
- Rapidly and effectively locates and removes faults.
- Aids in learning from past failures.
Disadvantages of Code Inspection
- It takes more time and planning.
- The procedure is slower.
A walkthrough is a methodology for doing informal solo or group reviews. In a walkthrough, the author describes and explains his work product to his peers or supervisor in a casual gathering to receive comments. Here, the feasibility of the suggested work product solution is examined.
A walkthrough is a static way of ensuring quality. It is less expensive to make modifications when the design is on paper rather than when it is being converted. Walkthroughs are casual but purposeful sessions.
How does Code Walkthrough work?
Code walkthroughs are a type of peer review. The code’s author often leads a meeting attended by other team members.
A few team members usually are provided a copy of the code a few days before the meeting. The author offers the document under review while the attendees manually run test cases against the code. Members of the team may also ask the author any pertinent questions.
All attendees share and discuss their individual results with the author.
Guidelines for performing code Walkthrough
- The code walkthrough team should be a manageable size. It should ideally be made up of three to seven individuals.
- The discussion does need to center on finding flaws rather than how to correct them.
- Managers should refrain from attending code Walkthrough sessions to promote teamwork and avoid the perception among engineers that they are being evaluated.
What are the Goals of the Code Walkthrough?
The explicit goal of the code walkthrough is determined by its function in the document’s creation.
In general, the below goals are applicable in most cases:
- To deliver the document to stakeholders inside and outside the software discipline, usually to obtain information about the subject it addresses.
- To create a shared understanding of the documents.
- To describe and assess the documents’ contents.
- To investigate, debate, and agree on the plausibility of proposed solutions and alternatives.
Advantages of Code Walkthrough
- Walkthrough offers a variety of viewpoints.
- The primary goal of the code walkthrough is to equip team members with information about the substance of the document under review.
- It raises awareness of the document’s content while also revealing problems.
Disadvantages of Code Walkthrough
- Completeness is confined to the areas where the team raises doubts.
- The code walkthrough lacks diversity, with the author driving the process and others validating that what has been said matches what has been done.
- It results in a lack of depth.
- Meetings can be time-consuming and difficult to arrange when different time zones separate participants.
|S. No.||Code Review||Code Inspection||Code Walkthrough|
|1.||It can be a formal (Fagan Inspection) or informal process (Peer Review).||It is a formal process.||It is an informal process.|
|2.||Initiated by the project team.||Initiated by the project team.||Initiated by author.|
|3.||Code review is typically carried out as a peer review including associates and professional specialists.||The inspection is carried out by a group of relevant personnel from several departments.||Typically, walkthroughs are attended by team members from the same project. The author leads the walkthrough.|
|4.||It is the systematic study of computer source code.||Each phase has a formal method.||There is no formal procedure in the phases.|
|5.||A code review takes longer since the checklist items are checked off as they are completed.||An inspection takes longer since the checklist items are checked off as they are completed.||No formal checklist is used to evaluate the code, the walkthrough takes less time.|
|6.||Sessions are planned with fixed responsibilities allocated to all participants.||Sessions are planned with fixed responsibilities allocated to all participants.||Unplanned|
When to use Code Review, Code Inspection or Code WAlkthrough?
- Code Review — This method can be helpful when you need to do a systematic review without planning a pre-determined structure. Usually, this can be performed as an over-the-shoulder review, when a senior developer reviews the new script offering suggestions and feedback, as an open conversation between team members. Code review becomes particularly handy in distributed teams; here, you can use remote collaborative tools to emulate the same exchange of ideas in an office setting. The most popular option for distributed teams is the email pass-around method. Typically, a developer uses version control systems with automatic notifications to email the updates to the development team. This kind of email initiates a discussion about the modifications. Next, team members might suggest modifications, point out errors, or request explanations. But as remote collaboration technologies grow, this approach is becoming more and more integrated with other software.
- Code Inspection — This method should be implemented when you need to verify the product’s compliance with specified requirements and standards. It is done by looking through the development and comparing it to the designs, code, artifacts, and other available documentation. In order to ensure that inspections are held correctly, it is necessary to plan appropriately and perform overviews of the preparation. Many preparations are required, meetings are arranged to conduct inspections, and then rework is completed in accordance with the inspection’s feedback. Inspection is a procedure that should be carefully considered by a company that cares about the product’s quality. The quality control division should be responsible for handling the process.
- Code Walk-through — This method can be implemented when there isn’t much need to maintain compliance or standards. Defect tracking in walk-throughs is inconsistent and informal and does not require prior preparation. A group of peers hears the author’s developed item. Peers probe and critique the item to find as many defects as possible. The audience need not prepare in advance. Typically, minimal documentation of the procedure or any emergent concerns is required.
These review processes remain an essential stage in the software development life cycle. While initially designed for Waterfall projects, these methodologies have evolved in response to changing work conditions and agile development practices.
By reducing defects, programmers become more efficient in providing high-value solutions to clients on time and without errors.
AnAr Solutions’ experienced developers employ Agile approaches to provide high-quality software that exceeds client expectations. For further information, please get in touch with us.