Tips for Providing Constructive Code Review Feedback

Code Review Feedback

Almost every single person in the software industry must have heard about code reviews and may be familiar with it. Even then the concept of reviewing codes is misinterpreted. People in this industry generally assume that performing tests must be sufficient to meet the requirements of the verification process, yet it is mostly ignored in the software development life cycle. Therefore, they tend to turn a blind eye to the code review process. However, ignoring the code review process may rebound and have major consequences in response. Code review is a favorable quality assurance practice that assures high-quality and sustainable code and extends knowledge across team members. However, with the value and usefulness of the code review feedback, the value, and benefits that the team receives from the code review will increase and decrease. 

As the software developer or a quality assurance team member, you are not just responsible to write codes instead the main purpose is to deliver quality solutions to complex problems. Is the code you’ve written is meeting the quality standards and doing its job well? When the software encounters an error, can it be handled normally? Is the software safe and has sufficient performance? All these questions can only be answered if you’re providing constructive code review feedback to the developers, for this purpose expert code review services are required if you want to achieve the desired outcomes of your software product. 

Here in this article, we are revealing some of the great tips for providing respectful and constructive code review feedback;

Cross questioning is always a nice approach - The nicest way to cultivate a positive feedback culture is to ask questions rather than ask for change. Asking questions about code has many advantages. It acts as a dialogue and emphasizes that neither the reviewer nor the code author is always correct.

Asking questions also reduce confrontation. This means that code authors and code reviewers can jointly determine the appropriate course of action. It also makes it possible for the developers to discuss wise choices and learn from each other's perspective.

Feedback must be about the code not about the author - Although it’s the responsibility of the reviewer to pinpoint the errors in the codes written yet they must be very careful while providing feedback. They must not blame an author and never hurt their feelings because blaming the person instead of code leads to justification, rejections, and offensive behavior.

Feedback in the form of opinion - Do not make someone feel hurt. Although you should not blame the person who wrote the code, it is a better option to use I messages to show that feedback comes from you. First and foremost, this shows that the feedback is not a general statement or summary, but your observation, opinion, or point of view.

Remember not to be sarcastic - It is easy to detect from the tone of a person either in verbal or written form. So better be concerned about it when you are providing feedback to the code authors, if they may detect sarcasm in your feedback, chances are they may get offended and the whole product and organization would have to suffer then. 

Avoid using Condescending words - One needs to be cognizant about the choice of words when it comes to providing feedback. Words such as "just", "simple", "only" or "obvious" may be understated and condescending. It is best to remove these words from the feedback. Most of the time, they do not add any value.

An explanation for the change in codes - If you recommend changing the code, you should also explain the reason for the proposed change. If you are 100% sure that the code author knows the reason, you don't have to do this. Nevertheless, most of the time adding short explanations is better than assuming that the code author knows your reasons.

Adding value to your code feedback - To understand how to add value, you must consider who to provide feedback to. Is this a good friend, a new employee, or someone from another team? How much guidance and explanation do they need?

In addition, think creatively. 

Conclusion

If you’re playing the role of a reviewer, then its a heavy responsibility on your shoulders. Be sure to provide feedback that is respectable, constructive, and an author’s feelings are not being attacked. Make sure you are using a soft and guiding tone instead of blaming words which may result in the offensive behavior of the authors. It is of great importance because code writers are an organization’s great asset.  

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