A site devoted to discussing techniques that promote quality and ethical practices in software development.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Code Review Checklist - why every one wants to write one?

In my previous blog, I have report some of the recommendations from Robert Glass on Software standards and how they should be developed.

Today, I was asked to review a Code Review check list for .Net development submitted by a development group. Granted that Code Review Checklist is not the same as standards but more like a form of guidelines it should be written at least by someone that knows the stuff.

After spending some time reviewing the contents, which is made up of something like 30 items, I was horrified at such a low quality. Clearly the author of this check list has only had superficial knowledge of .Net. One example to show the naive level of knowledge is the demand that all string comparison should be performed in lower case. Clearly this person has not read this article. Another is the incorrect exception handling technique to look for in this checklist.

Some of the mistakes made, like method and parameters naming conventions, give an idea that the author's background is really in Java.

It begs the question why someone wanting to write a check list when FxCop has already contained one far far more extensive that this novice has been able to muster. There is even a book on the guidelines. So why bother?

In fact, the first item of the check list should demand a clean run of FxCop or VSTS Code Analyzer. Other check list items should be more about advanced issues like couple metrics, design patterns and complex issues, any unit tests and are they constructed in the spirit of Unit Test, etc.

The check list, as Robert Glass said,
should be written and reviewed by the best programming talent in the shop, not by whomever happens to be available at the moment.
This is not the first time nor will this be the last for me seeing this kind of mistake.

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