Code reviews are magical. ✨ They lead to better code, better engineers, and better teams.
Code reviews are also tough to get right. Reviewers need to understand the proposed changes and the context of those changes within the codebase. They need to know when it’s acceptable to take on technical debt and when it’s time to suggest a totally new approach. Most importantly, they need to understand the human on the other side of the PR to give feedback in a way that will resonate.
To give the perfect code review, you need domain expertise, excellent communication skills, and a highly tuned sense of empathy.
But to give a pretty darn good code review, all you need are a handful of hacks.
Hacking Code Review is a series of bite-sized hacks you can start using today to make your code reviews more impactful.
If all your code reviews are exclusively critical, you could come off as hostile. Other developers may become frustrated and seek your feedback less often. In your next code review, give the author a compliment about something you thought they did well.
Developers are fortunate that the internet is chock-full of ideas and prior art that we can borrow from. Sharing resources in code review is a great way to make your reviews more impactful without much extra effort.
I’m a software developer based out of San Diego who appreciates thoughtful code review. Before I worked in tech, I worked in non-profit communications. When I started programming professionally, I found that many of the skills I honed to write and provide feedback on prose applied to code, too. Today, I’m a Software Engineer at GitHub.