Side Effects of Code Review

There are more benefits than meet the eye

You can find plenty of reasons how code review is beneficial, and lots of material explaining why. Code review is an important part of our workflow here at Collective Idea. It helps maintain code quality and allows us to exchange knowledge with each other. Code review is something I’ve grown to appreciate while I’ve been here and I couldn’t imagine working without it.

Boost Your Confidence

I’ve noticed other beneficial side effects from working in a code review heavy culture. One is the way it can boost a developer’s confidence. Starting nearly from day one in my career as a software developer, I was asked to review the code of more experienced developers. This came as a shock to me at first, but I grew greatly as a result. In addition to what I learned from coming across new things in what I was reviewing and asking questions about it, I was also able to learn more about myself. I was able to surprise myself with what I did know and could catch. I also got the boost of confidence that even senior developers can make mistakes (and I knew enough to be able to spot them!).

I’m highly in favor of having junior developers help with code review. Not only does it teach them new things, but also increases their confidence and helps them to grow as a developer in more ways than one.

Meta-Teaching Opportunities

There are other more meta ways of teaching than simply leaving review feedback. It’s easy to see how code review can be useful for teaching. The reviewer makes a comment and then the reviewee can learn from it. The reviewer can also learn when they come across something new in a pull request they are reviewing. I’ve discovered yet another way to learn within a code review culture.

It is difficult to try to learn or teach how to conduct code reviews and often developers need to learn by observation. The other day, a colleague gave me feedback on how I’d conducted a past code review and it was incredibly enriching. They gave me other things to watch out for that I hadn’t even thought about previously. Not only did this help me to become a better reviewer, but also a better developer in general. I can apply those lessons as things to watch out for in other’s PRs and in my own work. Getting individualized feedback on the way I review code is something that I would welcome more of and encourage others to do as well.

Improving your code reviews

Bringing it full circle, these two code review observations pair well together and bring benefit to your quality of work. By allowing everyone to review code, you create an environment conducive for a group of people to become stellar reviewers (increasing your quality of code), and stellar developers (because they’ve learned so much from reviews and feedback). If the other arguments weren’t enough, these are some more on why you should be promoting a healthy, code review culture.

Photo of Victoria Gonda

Victoria is a software developer working on mobile and full stack web applications. She enjoys exchanging knowledge through conference talks and writing.

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