Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Thursday, December 3, 2020
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Reviews Boost Code Quality, Survey Finds 

Software development is a collaborative process and development teams are accustomed to working remotely. But the COVID-19 pandemic is testing these realities, prompting some dissatisfaction with collaborative processes, according to a recent vendor survey of code review practices.

SmartBear, a software development tool vendor, said it surveyed more than 740 code developers, testers and IT managers during a 10-week period this past summer. Respondents work at companies at large and small companies with development teams ranging from fewer than five to more than 50.

While software quality has steadily improved over the last two years, as has developers’ satisfaction with development workflows, collaboration challenges have emerged across distributed and remote development teams.

The good news, the survey reports, is that fewer development teams are rushing software into production. “Businesses know that rushing out unfinished product[s] is not a viable, long-term strategy,” the survey concludes.

Earlier developer surveys have revealed a surprisingly large number of DevOps teams knowingly pushed vulnerable code to production due to time pressures. For better or worse, roughly two-thirds of respondents said they are regularly able to meet code release deadlines.

However, the code review survey released this week found that only 49 percent of those developers polled are satisfied with code review processes. The survey again highlighted the importance of code review as the best way to boost code quality.

Besides code review, respondents cited unit, continuous and functional testing of code as among the best steps for improving quality. Continuous integration and integration were also cited as best practices for software development.

More than 80 percent of developers surveyed said satisfaction with code review processes is directly tied to confidence in the overall quality of software releases.

Hence, development workflows are being reinforced with new code review approaches ranging from bi-weekly assessments to greater use of automated tools to track code updates. The SmartBear survey found an average 3% increase in monthly—and increasingly, weekly—tool-based and ad hoc code reviews.

Detailed code reviews primarily focused on scanning text and Microsoft Word files and, to a lesser extent, PDFs. Among the benefits, the survey noted, was that code reviews also lift development teams by mentoring less-experienced code jockeys.

With the pace of code releases accelerating, the survey also examines which version-control tools developers favor. Respondents overwhelmingly cited Git, the open source version-control tool used to track changes in source code during development.

Meanwhile, DevOps teams tend to be tightknit. Seventy percent of respondents said their teams consisted of 10 or fewer coders.

The survey results “validate the importance of true document and code review to track and manage changes that better align with modern ways of working,” said Christian Wright, SmartBear's president and chief product officer.

 

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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