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From abdullah alamoudi <>
Subject Re: [DISCUSS] Improving reviews
Date Tue, 06 Dec 2016 18:42:59 GMT
I would like to stress one point though: Having no comments after a timeout (72hr) means that
the reviewer couldn't find time to do the review. In which case, the change owner needs to
be extra careful as the whole blame will be on them if their change breaks something. If you're
not totally sure about your change and are not testing every little possible case, you can
still insist on a review.

One issue that comes to mind is: what if someone's changes continuously break things?
Of course we can't revoke commit privileges (Can we?) but what we can do is:
1. pay more attention to changes submitted by people who's changes break more often.
2. increase the timeout period for them "temporarily" 72->96->120..... If you don't
like this, don't make bad changes.
3. MOST IMPORTANTLY,  all of us should strive to have better test coverage to automatically
detect breaks caused by wild changes.


> On Dec 6, 2016, at 10:33 AM, abdullah alamoudi <> wrote:
> Ceej,
> You spoke my mind and I agree with every word. I believe the way to go is smoother code
review process (maybe through time limit) and more focus on automated testing. One thing we
could do is:
> If the 72 hours period pass with no comments, we look at the code coverage and how much
it improved and based on that, either allow the change in or deny it. This will push change
submitters to add tests to increase coverage even before the 72h limit passes. This doesn't
remove the responsibility of doing the review. The review is still to be done. However as
Ceej said: One of the goals of doing the reviews is to catch large scale design errors. Those
I think still need humans to look at but they can be caught fairly quickly with minimal effort.
> As for spreading the knowledge, will leave that to a different discussion. I will end
this with some tweets about code simplicity and changes taken from Max Kanat-Alexander, author
of Code Simplicity:
> 1. You don't have to be perfect. If you make a bad change, just fix it. (mistakes will
happen with or without reviews)
> 2. If somebody is improving code quality, don't shoot them down because their improvement
isn't perfect. (to reviewers)
> 3. The point is to have a maintainable system, not to show how clever you are. (to submitters)
> 4. Code quality isn't something you fix once and it stays good forever. It's something
you learn to do and continue doing.
> 5. Engineers don't beg, "Please let me build a bridge that will stay up." You shouldn't
need permission to write good software.
> 6. Anybody who tells you that you can fix years of bad code in months or days is a liar.
> 7. Even huge codebases can be refactored incrementally.
> 8. Sometimes a refactoring will break something. Often, this proves that the code was
too fragile and so needed the refactoring!
> 9. If your code "works," but it's an unstable pile of complexity, do you feel good about
> 10. Refactoring is often easier and more rewarding than you expect.
> 11. Don't try to write "perfect" code, just write *better* code until you have *good*
> 12. Don't worry about how to do the perfect refactoring. Just keep improving the code
in small steps.
> I am glad we're talking about this. Cheers,
> ~Abdullah.
>> On Dec 5, 2016, at 11:13 PM, Chris Hillery <> wrote:
>> It's always been my opinion that code reviews are a very nice-to-have, but
>> not more than that. The real value in proposing changes for review comes
>> from the automated testing that can be performed at that stage. I think
>> we'd be better served overall by shoring up and expanding our automated
>> testing rather than spending time discussing and implementing non-technical
>> process.
>> The main benefits of code reviews are catching large-scale design errors
>> and spreading code knowledge. You can't really have the former until you
>> already have the latter - if only one person really understands an area,
>> nobody else will be able to catch design errors in that area. That's
>> clearly a risky place to be, but IMHO at least it's not a problem that can
>> be solved through rules. It requires a cultural shift from the team to make
>> spreading code knowledge an actual priority, rather than someone everyone
>> wants but nobody has time or interest to achieve.
>> If we as a team don't have the drive to do that, then we should accept that
>> about ourselves and move on. You'll always do best spending time on
>> enhancing the strengths of a team, not fighting against the things they
>> don't excel at. I'm also not trying to make any kind of value judgment here
>> - software development is always about tradeoffs and compromise, risk
>> versus goals. Any time taken to shift focus towards spreading code
>> knowledge will by necessity pull from other parts of the development
>> process, and the upshot may well not be an overall improvement in
>> functionality or quality.
>> Ceej
>> aka Chris Hillery
>> On Mon, Dec 5, 2016 at 10:49 PM, Till Westmann <> wrote:
>>> Hi,
>>> today a few of us had a discussion about how we could make the reviewing
>>> process moving along a little smoother. The goal is to increase the
>>> likeliness
>>> that the reviews and review comments get addressed reasonably quickly. To
>>> do
>>> that, the proposal is to
>>> a) try to keep ourselves to some time limit up to which a reviewer or
>>> author
>>>  responds to a review or a comment and to
>>> a) regularly report via e-mail about open reviews and how long they have
>>> been
>>>  open (Ian already has filed an issue to automate this [1]).
>>> Of course one is not always able to spend the time to do a thorough review
>>> [2]
>>> / respond fully to comments, but in this case we should aim to let the
>>> other
>>> participants know within the time limit that the task is not feasible so
>>> that
>>> they adapt their plan accordingly.
>>> The first proposal for the time limit would be 72h (which is taken from the
>>> minimal time that a [VOTE] stays open to allow people in all different
>>> locations and timezones to vote).
>>> Another goal would be to abandon reviews, if nobody seems to be working on
>>> them
>>> for a while (and we’d need to find out what "a while" could be).
>>> Thoughts on this?
>>> A good idea or too much process?
>>> Is the time limit reasonable?
>>> Please let us know what you think (ideally more than a +1 or a -1 ...)
>>> Cheers,
>>> Till
>>> [1]
>>> [2]

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