What Software Developers Must Know About Code Review for High-Quality Software Development

By Mia Ron
What Software Developers Must Know About Code Review for High-Quality Software Development

The top software developers know why Code Review is one of the most crucial aspects of software development. As the term suggests, it involves developers who review the source code of the software to improve the quality of the code and increase its effectiveness. However, it is not as simple as it sounds.

The code reviewers must also ensure following the effective trends in software development as well as the best practices in software development. After the code review, the software must be readable, meet the desired requirements, and comply with the expectations of the users. Thus, the code reviewers carry a serious responsibility.   

Code Review - Why?

The first question that we must answer before taking up code review is why are we going for this time-consuming task. Here are the benefits of code review that motivate experienced software development companies to go for it. 

Detecting Bugs in Code

Bug fixing, conventionally, used to be a part of later stages in software development. However, developers realized the consequences of this, and so, modern methodologies incorporate bug fixing from the early stages. The biggest advantage of detecting and fixing bugs at early stages is that it prevents developers from wasting time and resources on errors and corrections at later stages. 

Moreover, software development is a costly process. And Code Review is time-consuming as well as costly. Though, in the end, you will realize that prevention is better than cure, even in terms of costs!

Prevent Security Threats

Code Review helps prevent future security threats in the software. It aims at incorporating all possible security measures including the use of the right technology and code fragments that contribute to secure software. This is the reason you will find specifically Java development companies or C++ development companies. Some companies choose to develop specifically with such languages and frameworks that ensure security.  

Increase Software Maintainability

As the Code Review makes the software more readable, it becomes possible for the developers to update and maintain the code in the future. This helps manage update releases better.

Overall Team Quality

Software developers have different proficiencies and skills. Some could be better at algorithms, some others at converting the algorithm to basic code, while the expert software developers can code complex functionalities that they have never taken up before.

Irrespective of the type, in software development, there can be varied perspectives and it helps in improving team quality. The code review process helps generate broader perspectives in code so that if the developer who initially wrote the code has missed out something, the gap can be filled by the reviewer. 

Code Review thus transfers knowledge through the team. Overall, the quality of the whole team improves if code review is taken up diligently.

Suggested Reading: Why Outsourcing Software Development Is Crucial for Your Business?

Code Review Challenges

Code review challenges

The Code Review Process

Now that we know why we need Code Review, let’s directly move to the process. 

Goal Setting - SMART goals

As we all know, any effective planning starts with setting SMART goals. It means that you must make goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. If you are into business for some time, you already know all of these and so, start with making SMART goals. Also, these goals and expectations must be conveyed clearly to the team that is supposed to execute the code review. 

Define Schedule

Depending on your software requirements, you will need to build a code review schedule and calendar. It may not be a calendar with actual dates, but it has to mention the levels and stages at which code review must be done. It is always better to conduct regular code reviews to prevent development challenges in further stages. 

Collaborative Environment 

Build an environment of collaboration for code review to be effective. You must select the more experienced developers for code review so that the junior developers have something to learn from their expertise. Also, encourage peer review so that there are broad perspectives and better brainstorming. 

As already mentioned, multiple reviewers lead to varied perspectives which can increase code quality. However, it also becomes a challenge when there is a conflict. Moreover, at early stages, it may not be possible to gauge which perspective will work in the long run. So, a collaborative environment helps the team members challenge their own beliefs as and when the situation demands and learn from each other’s experiences.   

Optimize Automation

Software development is now switching to automation. You will find many blogs on how to leverage automation in software development. I would however not say that using AI-based code generators is a very good idea, but at times the developers do need some assistance. 

The more monotonous or simpler tasks can be outsourced to AI while making sure that the code so generated has been reviewed by an expert developer. It goes with the warning that automation and AI must be used sparingly and not mechanically while selecting the most repetitive areas that can be automated and leaving aside the complicated areas that need the expertise of human developers.

Suggested Reading: The Future of Software Development: Will AI Replace Human Developers?

Constructive and Specific Feedback

The most challenging part of code review is feedback. While it is essential to give the required feedback, one must ensure that the way it is given doesn't offend or demotivate the developer who has worked hard on the code. 

Code reviews must result in constructive and specific feedback. Vague feedback which just means, “it is not going to work,” doesn't help. It must also specifically mention what should work and what not, and also suggest what to improve to make it work. 

Remember that code review holds the responsibility of delivering 100% perfect code and so, reviewers must come up with solutions and not just suggestions.  

Code review process in software development

Code Review - the How-Tos!

There cannot be an exact or definite answer to how to do Cod Review as the strategies will change with software requirements, as well as the resources available with the developers. Also, as technology changes very rapidly, the trends change, and developers have to experiment with new ways of code review. 

However, we can still list down some common ways of code review practiced by experienced developers.  

Pair Programming

In this method, two developers work on the same code, one develops it while the other reviews it. This method has advantages such as knowledge transfer, accommodating multiple perspectives, finding bugs, etc. Moreover, in Pair Programming, the developer and reviewer can work from different locations and so it’s possible to practice this type with remote teams. 

Over-the-Shoulder Review

Over-the-Shoulder code review is an enhanced version of Pair Programming with the exception that the reviewer has to be almost simultaneously available with the developer and almost working with them throughout, giving suggestions, and raising queries wherever the developer could be going out of track. 

The drawback is that it wastes the time of the reviewer who is most of the time waiting for the developer to complete his part. Though it was difficult in the past, now technology allows developers and reviewers to work remotely through shared screens.     

Sequential Email Reviews

A more formal code review approach is a Sequential Email Review. The developer sends the code to the reviewer preferably by email. The reviewer does a thorough code review and sends his inputs to the developer. This is a conventional method, though still followed by many software development companies as it works very well when immediate feedback is not essential. Moreover, in this method, both the developer and the reviewer treat each other more formally and professionally, which can have both pros and cons. For distributed teams, this method can work. 

Tool-Assisted Review

Almost all modern and popular software development tools have inbuilt code review functionality. The effectiveness of these tools can vary, but experienced developers who have used many such tools can select the best options so that the review is effective. 

The developer community has mixed opinions on whether these tools can be complete solutions for code review or should be used only in certain situations of specific requirements. The trust in technology varies among the community and many believe that it is not a good idea to rely completely on tool-assisted reviews.

Formal Inspections

Formal inspections are like team code review meetings with multiple reviewers who are experts in the field, review the code, and present their suggestions. This is a very time-consuming process but effective and can lead to high-quality outputs. The best way to make formal inspections successful is to share the code with the review team in advance so that they can work on it and note down comprehensive analysis which they can share with it others during the meeting.    


Last but not least, an audit is a very formal code review practiced generally when the software development is for government or statutory agencies as clients. They have formal protocols for regulatory compliance and so, external auditors specializing in such code reviews must be hired for this type of code review.

Wrapping Up!

Code Review practices have changed over the years, maintaining its core aim of enhancing code quality. The concept is comprehensive; thus, no blog can be exhaustive. When planning to go for Code Review, conduct thorough research to make sure that you are doing it right. Else, if you hire the best software developers, they will do it for you.

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