Lightweight Code Reviews A Lightweight Alternative to Inspections

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How does that compare to QA? Is this really worth it?

The Epiphany
Over the last four years we've arrived at the answer: We can review code in an Agile, lightweight way using a development tool that integrates source code viewing with chat room collaboration. The tool must gather metrics automatically, because although metrics are critical to process improvement they are eschewed by developers. The tool must do just enough to support developers, but not be so inflexible or all-encompassing that the tool starts dictating the process.

This tool — Code Collaborator — is the culmination of everything we've learned about lightweight peer code review at Smart Bear. We even have the data that proves it works.

But as a critical reader you might read this and think "Please, no more tools, I'm drowning in tools, I don't believe you anyway."

In the six remaining articles in this series we will present our stories, our data, and our theories on how code review can be lightweight and fun, yet effective, measurable, and give a satisfactory answer to all the questions above.

So finish the story already!
By now you can guess how the story ends. Using arguments not unlike those above, Mr. Metrics and I convinced Mr. CTO to at least try our lightweight code review technique in a pilot program with a one development group that was already hopelessly opposed to Fagan inspections. The metrics that came out of that group demonstrated the effectiveness of the lightweight system, and within 18 months Code Collaborator was deployed across the entire organization.

About the author

Jason Cohen's picture Jason Cohen

Jason Cohen is the author of Best Kept Secrets of Peer Code Review, the definitive work on the new process of Lightweight peer review with 7,000 copies in circulation. Jason conducted and published the largest case study of peer code review at Cisco Systems®—2,500 reviews over 10 months with a real, delivered product. Jason is also the founder of Smart Bear Inc., makers of Code Collaborator that assists developers and managers with lightweight peer code review processes. Jason has spoken at many conferences, trade shows, and ACM/IEEE society meetings across the country.

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