Best Code Review Tools
Best Code review is a step in the software development process that entails testing the source code to find flaws early on. Before merging into the codebase, a code review is usually performed.
By enhancing code quality early in the software development process, a good code review prevents defects and errors from entering your project. In this post, we’ll define code review and look at some of the most popular code review tools that can assist organizations with the process.
What Is the Code Review Process?
The fundamental purpose of the code review process is to inspect any new code for bugs, errors, and compliance with the organization’s quality requirements. One-sided comments should not be the only focus of the code review process. As a result, the collective team’s improved coding skills are an intangible benefit of the code review process.
If you want to start a code review process in your company, you need the first figure out who will be reviewing the code. If you’re part of a small team, designate team leads to go over all of the code. You might enable a method in which every code review is assigned to an experienced developer based on their workload if you have a larger team with several reviewers.
The next thing you need to think about is setting deadlines, rounds, and minimum standards for submitting code review requests.
The final point to consider in the code review process is how feedback should be conveyed. Make sure to emphasize the code’s benefits while offering solutions to its flaws.
Your criticism should be helpful enough to persuade the developer to grasp your point of view and, if required, establish a conversation.
Why Is Code Review Critical?
Because it is never part of the formal curriculum in schools, the code review process is crucial. You can master the intricacies of a programming language and project management, but code review is a process that evolves over time as a company grows.
For the following reasons, code review is essential:
- Make sure your code is free of bugs.
Reduce your chances of getting problems.
Verify that the updated code follows the criteria.
Improve the new code’s efficiency.
Code reviews also help other team members improve their skills. A young developer can use the feedback from a code review conducted by an experienced developer to better their own coding.
How to Perform a Code Review?
There are four ways to conduct code reviews.
Over-the-Shoulder Code Reviews
Over-the-shoulder code reviews take place at the developer’s workstation, where an experienced team member walks through the new code and offers ideas in the form of a dialogue. It is the simplest method for conducting code reviews and does not necessitate a pre-defined structure.
In addition to any official code review procedure that may be in place, such a code review may still be done informally today. Over-the-shoulder code reviews have typically been done in person, but distant teams can use collaborative tools to do so as well.
While over-the-shoulder code reviews are a terrific approach to assessing new code, teams that are geographically dispersed have typically depended on email for code reviews.
A developer communicates a diff of changes to the entire development team as part of this code review process, which is commonly done through version control systems that send out automated notifications. This email starts a discussion about the modifications, in which team members can ask for more changes, point out problems, and seek clarifications.
Because of its versatility, email was the dominant mode of communication in the early days. A public mailing list was frequently maintained by open source organizations, which served as a forum for discussing and providing comments on code.
These mailing lists persist even now, with the advent of code review tools, but they are mostly used for announcements and debate.
Pair programming is a process of continual code review. Two developers are seated at a workstation, but only one is actively programming while the other provides real-time feedback.
While it may be an excellent tool for inspecting new code and training developers, its time-consuming nature may make it inefficient. During the review period, the reviewer is prevented from completing any other productive work.
Why Should You Use Code Review Tools?
The primary goal of a code review is to improve efficiency. While traditional code review approaches have worked in the past, if you haven’t transitioned to a code review tool, you may be losing efficiency. A code review tool automates the code review process so that the reviewer may concentrate entirely on the code.
Before new code is integrated into the main codebase, a code review tool interfaces with your development cycle to trigger a code review. You can select a tool that is compatible with your technological stack and integrate it smoothly into your workflow.
If you use Git for code management and TravisCI for continuous integration, for example, make sure you choose a tool that supports these technologies so you can integrate them into your development process.
In software development, there are two forms of code testing: dynamic and static.
Checking if the code follows a set of rules and executing unit tests, which are normally executed by a preset script, are both parts of dynamic analysis. After a developer develops new code to be incorporated into the existing code, static code testing is performed.
Let’s take a look at some of the most widely used code review tools.
A Closer Look at 12 Powerful Code Review Tools
1. Review Board
Review Board is an open-source, web-based code review tool. You may either try out the demo on their website or download and install the software on your own server to test this code review tool.
To operate Review Board on a server, you’ll need the Python programming language and its installers, a database like MySQL or PostgreSQL, and a web server.
Review Board works with a variety of version control systems, including Git, Mercurial, CVS, Subversion, and Perforce. You can also connect Review Board to Amazon S3 to store screenshots in the tool directly.
Depending on your needs, Review Board allows you to undertake both pre-commit and post-commit code reviews. If you don’t have a version control system set up, you can upload code changes to the tool for review using a diff file.
There’s also a graphical representation of the modifications in your code. Review Board also allows you to do document reviews in addition to code reviews.
Review Board was first released almost a decade ago, yet it is currently under active development. As a result, the Review Board community has developed over time, and you will most likely find help if you run into any challenges while using the platform.
Review Board is a basic code review tool that you may install on your own server. If you don’t want to put your code on a public website, you should give it a shot.
Atlassian’s Crucible is a collaborative code review platform. It’s a commercial software suite that lets you evaluate code, discuss plan modifications, and find issues in a variety of version control systems.
Crucible offers two payment options: one for small teams and the other for large businesses. For a small team, a one-time payment of $10 is required for limitless repositories with a maximum of five users. Large teams can start with ten members and unlimited repositories for $1100.
Both of these options include a 30-day free trial that does not require a credit card.
Crucible, like Review Board, supports a variety of version control systems, including SVN, Git, Mercurial, CVS, and Perforce. Its main purpose is to allow you to conduct code reviews. It allows you to comment inline within the diff view, in addition to general comments on the code. This allows you to pinpoint exactly what you’re referring to.
Atlassian’s other enterprise products, like as Confluence and Enterprise BitBucket, work nicely with Crucible. Crucible, however, may provide the most value if used in conjunction with Jira, Atlassian’s Issue, and Project Tracker. It allows you to evaluate and audit merged code before committing it.
In GitHub’s pull requests, there’s a built-in code review tool. The code review tool comes as part of GitHub’s core service, which is available for free to developers. In private repositories, GitHub’s free plan limits the number of users to three. The cost of a paid subscription starts at $7 per month.
A reviewer with access to the code repository can attach themselves to the pull request and finish the review on GitHub. A developer who has submitted a pull request can also ask for an administrator’s review.
You can evaluate the diff, comment inline, and check the history of changes in addition to the broader pull request conversation. The web version of the code review tool also helps you to settle small Git conflicts. GitHub’s marketplace even allows you to integrate with additional review tools to create a more robust approach.
If you’re already using GitHub, the code review tool is a fantastic resource. It does not necessitate any further setting or installation. The main problem with the GitHub code review tool is that it only works with GitHub-hosted Git repositories. Try GitLab if you’re seeking for a similar code review tool that you can download and install on your server.
Phabricator is a collection of open-source tools created by Facility to help you review code. While the package of code review tools can be downloaded and installed on your server, Facility also offers a cloud-hosted version of Phabricator.
If you install it on your server, there are no restrictions. You will, however, be charged $20 per user per month (up to $1000 per month), which includes support. You can sign up for a 30-day free trial to give it a shot.
Git, Mercurial, and SVN are the three most popular version control systems supported by Phabricator. It can track externally hosted repositories as well as manage local repositories. It can also be scaled to several servers.
Phabricator is more than just a code review tool; it’s also a detailed platform for having a conversation with your team members. A pre-commit review of a new team member or a review of newly submitted code are both options. You can also do an audit on merged code, which Phabricator refers to as an “audit.” On Phabricator, here’s a comparison of a review and an audit.
Additional Phabricator tools assist you in the complete software development cycle. It has a built-in tracker, for example, that you may use to handle issues and features. Friction also allows you to establish a wiki for your software within the tool. You can use Phabricator’s CLI tool to integrate the tool with unit tests. You can also use Phabricator’s API to create applications.
In conclusion, Phabricator has a slew of capabilities that can help you improve the efficiency of your development process. If your idea is still in its early stages, this tool makes perfect sense. If you don’t have the technical know-how to set it up on your own server, you should go with the hosted version.
Collaborator is a peer code and document review platform for development teams by SmartBear. Collaborator allows teams to examine design documents in addition to source code. A five-user license bundle costs $535 per year. Depending on your business needs, a free trial is offered.
Subversion, Git, CVS, Mercurial, Perforce, and TFS are just a few of the version control systems supported by Collaborator. It integrates well with common project management tools and integrated development environments (IDEs) including Jira, Eclipse, and Visual Studio.
This application also allows you to report and analyze critical metrics from your code review process. Collaborator also assists with audit management and bug tracking. A collaborator is a good option if your tech stack includes corporate software and you need help setting up your code review process.
CodeScene is an advanced code review tool that goes beyond static code analysis. It analyzes the evolution of your codebase by performing behavioral code analysis with a time dimension. There are two versions of CodeScene: a cloud-based solution and an on-premise solution.
CodeScene’s cloud-based plans start at zero dollars for public GitHub repositories. CodeScene costs €99 (about $115) each month for up to ten private repositories and a team of ten individuals. A CodeScene on-premise installation costs €15 (about $17) per developer per month.
CodeScene generates code visualizations by analyzing your version control history. It also employs machine learning algorithms to detect social patterns and hidden dangers in code.
CodeScene profiles each team member based on their version control history, allowing them to map out their knowledge base and develop inter-team dependencies. It also introduces the concept of hotspots in your repository by highlighting the files with the highest development activity. Going forward, these hotspots will demand the utmost care.
Check out CodeScene’s free trial if you’re searching for a product that goes beyond a standard, conversational code review tool. Check out this white paper on CodeScene’s use cases and roles to understand more about the underlying rationale behind CodeScene’s behavioral code analysis.
7. Visual Expert
Visual Expert is an enterprise code review solution that focuses on database code. Only three platforms are supported: PowerBuilder, SQL Server, and Oracle PL/SQL. You won’t be able to use Visual Expert for code review if you’re using any other DBMS.
A free trial is offered, but you must submit a request for a price quote.
Visual Expert evaluates each change in your code, in addition to a typical code review, to predict any performance issues that may arise as a result of the modifications. The tool may also generate entire documentation for your application automatically from the code.
Visual Expert is a code review tool for PowerBuilder, SQL Server, and Oracle PL/SQL that you should attempt if you need a specialized code review tool for your needs (here is a guide on building efficient WordPress queries).
Gerrit is a Java-based web-based code review tool for Git repositories that is free and open source. You must download the source code and run it in Java to use Gerrit. Here’s how to set up Gerrit as a stand-alone application.
Gerrit combines the features of a bug tracker and a review tool into a single application. Changes are displayed side by side in a unified diff during a review, with the option to start a conversation for each line of code introduced. This tool serves as a link between the developer and the central repository. Gerrit also has a voting system integrated into it.
If you have the technical know-how to set up and operate Gerrit and are searching for a free code review tool, it should be a good fit for your projects.
Rhodecode is a web-based tool that can help you with code reviews. Mercurial, Git, and Subversion are the three version control systems it supports. Rhodecode’s cloud-based version costs $8 per user per month, while the on-premise version costs $75 per user per year. While it is enterprise software, its free and open source community edition can be downloaded and compiled without payment.
To increase code quality, Rhodecode allows a team to engage successfully through iterative, conversational code reviews. For safe development, this tool also includes a layer of permission control.
A visual changelog also makes it easier to navigate your project’s history across different branches. Small adjustments can also be made using the web interface’s online code editor.
Rhodecode is an excellent alternative for someone seeking a web-based code review tool because it integrates effortlessly with your existing projects. As a result, the community version is excellent for folks with technical knowledge who want a free and reliable code review tool.
Veracode offers a set of code review tools that let you automate testing, speed up development, incorporate a remediation process, and boost project efficiency. Veracode’s code review tools are touted as a security solution for finding vulnerabilities in your systems. They offer a pair of code review tools:
- Static Analysis is a tool that helps programmers find and solve security problems in their code.
- Software Composition Analysis (SCA) is a program that oversees the process of fixing and mitigating code problems.
Code review is a component of the Software Composition Analysis, and you can try Veracode for free before buying it. To get a quote, click this link.
Reviewable is a GitHub pull request code review tool. Open-source repositories are free, with private repositories starting at $39 a month for 10 users. Because the tool is linked to GitHub, you may log in using your GitHub account and get started right away.
You may see a demo review on Reviewable if you want to see what a typical review looks like.
One of the more intriguing aspects of Reviewable is that it addresses some of the flaws in GitHub’s pull requests feature code review. For example, when a developer updates a line of code, GitHub immediately hides the remark because it assumes the issue has been resolved. However, things may be different in reality.
Also, when it comes to presenting file diffs, GitHub has a pretty short line limit.
Reviewable should be your go-to tool if you’re searching for a service that’s securely integrated with GitHub yet offers more capabilities than just pull requests.
12. Peer Review for Trac
The Peer Review Plugin for Trac is a free and open-source tool for doing code reviews on your projects if you use Subversion. The Peer Review Plugin is an open-source project that interfaces with Trac, a wiki and issue tracking system for development projects.
To provide an end-to-end solution, Trac integrates the wiki and problem tracker with your reviews. While the plugin provides the fundamental capability of comparing changes and conversing, it also allows you to create unique workflows for your projects.
You could, for example, schedule tasks to be completed in response to events such as the submission of a modification or the approval of a code review. On your projects, you may also generate custom reports.
Trac might be an excellent alternative for you if you also need a wiki for documentation and an issue tracker to manage your project’s roadmap.
When it comes to increasing your organization’s efficiency, the code review process is critical. Using the correct code review tool, in particular, is what helps you eliminate redundancy in your development cycle.
- Here’s what we discovered when we looked more closely at the most popular code review tools accessible in 2022:
- Review Board is a wonderful solution for a small team that is just getting started with code reviews.
- Give Gerrit, Peer Review for Trac, or the community edition of Rhodocode a try if you’re searching for an open-source code review solution.
- Are you seeking for a code review solution that is both simple to use and supportive? You should give Rhodecode a shot.
- Give GitHub’s inbuilt code review editor a try if you use Git and GitHub to manage your codebase. Reviewable is a great tool to use if you want to go beyond the basics of pull requests.
- Do you work on a team that manages database programming with Oracle, SQL Server, or PowerBuilder? Visual Expert is a database-specific code review tool that you can check out.
- Try Atlassian’s Crucible, SmartBear’s Collaborator, or Veracode if you need an enterprise solution.
- Check out CodeScene if you want to leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence to go beyond code review and into the behavioral analysis.
- Phabricator’s range of tools for code review and beyond is a complete solution for your software development cycle.