developer experience

Improve your code reviews

by Gil

Fri Aug 26 2022

The other day I watched a very interesting video about code reviews. In the video, the author explains how they did some experiments changing the order of files shown to reviewers and their results on how easy it was for reviewers to spot bugs based on whether the files with the bugs were shown first or later.

You should watch the video, because I’m going to spoil it. The results were that when the bug in the PR was on the first file, reviewers were 175% more likely to spot them, the same thing happened when the bug was in the tests, the reviewers who looked at the tests first (because they were sorted tests-first in the review program) were 250% more likely to find the bug in the tests.

The author then has a few recommendations about what to do to help reviewers find bugs more easily such as the author of the PR offering a guide to the reviewer to help them spot the more difficult areas. I like also to let reviewers know about what I’m looking for in their review (for example: What do you think about this pattern I used to solve this problem?) this way, the reviewer can focus on those areas as part of the review.

I was thinking that as a reviewer, one thing I could do to be able to do good reviews is to have my own checklist of things to look for in a review (we can’t expect the author to always tells us what to look for), I haven’t used it much to be honest, I think it makes the review a bit stricter and less fun, but it will probably make my reviews better in the future.

The code review checklist