Guido van Rossum has created a new tool project called Mondrian for online code reviews. But even Guido can’t solve the fundamental problems of an online code review. Nothing beats face to face communication. Code reviews are not just about finding bugs in code, they’re about conversations, mentoring and knowledge transfer (so everyone on the team understands the code).
Guido appears to have built a very slick system for getting other developers to read and comment on your code. It manages all aspects of the review process but doesn’t around the fact that face to face communications have much higher bandwidth than text.
In person we’re not limited to staring at the code (or diffs) we can move away from the computer and us a white board. We can shift from low level issues (like why is this member variable public instead of private?) to higher level issues (like is it possible to decouple these classes?).
Finally it almost begs why isn’t google doing more pair programming combined with automated tests? If you’re coding with a pair partner why do you need another review?
If you want something automatic try static analysis tools like PMD (for Java) or FxCop (for .NET) that are able to spot a certain class of
Thanks to Niall Kennedy for posting about this.
Update this post is featured in the Carnival of Software Development