Why automated code reviews should be part of your workflow
Code reviews are one of the most important aspects of today’s software development workflow. With code reviews, your team can find issues early on, share knowledge, distribute ownership, and standardize development practices, among many other benefits.
There is an implicit relationship between code reviews and code quality. Plus, we know that great code quality correlates with developer productivity, product robustness, security, and extensibility, less time and resources spent on maintenance, faster time to market, and decreasing technical debt.
However, manual code reviews can be time-consuming and error-prone, and you can miss important rules that should be checked and enforced in the code. Therefore, automating your code reviews greatly impacts the quality of your code. Keep reading to understand why automated reviews should be part of your workflow.
Top advantages of automated code reviews
- Speed: It takes time for developers to do manual code reviews; automated tools are much faster. Automated code reviews address problems early on and pinpoint precisely where the error lies in the code. So, you’ll be able to fix those errors earlier in the development lifecycle, allowing you also to save costs in the long run.
- Depth: Manual code reviews can’t cover every possible code execution path, but an automated tool can. This will allow you to analyze where there might be potential issues in your entire code based on the rules you’ve selected.
- Accuracy: Manual code reviews are prone to human error and bias. Automated tools are not: they are impartial and scan every single line of your code. This helps you ensure the highest-level code quality.
- Consistency: Manual code reviews are often subjective and depend on the reviewer’s skills and experience. A less experienced reviewer may spend much time reviewing each line of code and not catch all issues. On the other hand, a reviewer friend of the submitter might be willing to ship the code, even with unresolved issues. By automating the code review process, these subjective factors are no longer a concern, and you ensure your code is analyzed consistently.
- Compliance: Automated code reviews can help you comply with standards and achieve certifications. If your industry requires specific coding standards and practices, an automated code review tool can make your job easier by automatically checking the entire codebase.
- Real-time feedback: At the end of an automated code review, the tool gives comprehensive feedback by displaying all security flaws, code style violations, and other issues in the code. As such, your team has an actionable overview they can use to work on fixing the detected problems immediately. In addition, this real-time feedback ensures you are following all the best practices even before spending time on a manual code review.
- Scalability: If you have a big team of developers or are expanding rapidly, you can automate the code review process without any issues. With more developers focused on producing code, your codebase will grow, but this does not mean your time reviewing code will also increase. Automated code review tools can handle a large amount of code and still be incredibly fast in their evaluation.
- Cost-efficiency: Developers spend up to 25% of their time doing manual code reviews. You can significantly reduce this time by including automated code reviews in your workflow, which means your productivity will improve. Plus, you can get automated code review tools for a low cost and achieve a better ROI.
So should you just ignore manual code reviews?
The short answer is no. In most situations, automated code reviews do not entirely replace manual code reviews but rather complement them.
The automated part detects bugs and errors in the code, checks coding styles, and highlights potential places for refactoring. All this is done in just a few minutes, ensuring that the submitted code follows coding standards and does not contain syntactic and semantic errors. Automated code reviews are a crucial layer to ensure code quality.
Once the automated code review passes, you might still need a manual code review to verify if the code correctly implements your system’s requirements and use cases.
By following such a process, you are reducing manual code reviews’ time while guaranteeing and improving the quality of each line of code submitted by your developers.
Codacy: the go-to solution for automated code reviews
We run a DevOps Intelligence Platform that helps thousands of developers ship billions of lines of code per day by automating and standardizing code reviews. We’ve built a suite of products that help developers quantify and act on their software quality, engineering performance, and security.
Codacy is the best-in-class solution for Static Code Analysis. Integrating seamlessly into your workflows, Codacy helps engineering teams save time in code reviews and tackle technical debt. Codacy supports 40+ programming languages and is available in free open-source and enterprise versions (cloud and self-hosted).