Short and vague answer is: we need to balance thouroughness and practicality.
What is the point of pull request? First of all, it helps with maintainq quality of our code. Secondly, it is a great (one of the best if carried out well) educational tool as we can share our knowledge across our team in practice.
However, the question often arises: how picky should we be when conducting a pull request review? Striking the right balance between thoroughness and efficiency is key. While it’s important to catch and address issues that may lead to bugs or performance problems, being excessively picky can slow down the development process and demoralize contributors.
In a pull request review, it’s essential to focus on the most critical aspects of the code, such as functionality, security, and maintainability. While small formatting or stylistic issues are worth mentioning, it’s crucial not to get bogged down in nitpicking.
Open communication and collaboration play a significant role in finding the right balance in pull request reviews. It’s essential to maintain a constructive and respectful tone when providing feedback. In the end, the goal of pull request reviews should be to improve the codebase collectively while respecting the time and effort of everyone involved in the development process.
Striking the right balance in pull request reviews also involves considering the context of the change. Is it a critical bug fix, a new feature, or a minor enhancement? Understanding the significance of the change can help reviewers gauge the level of scrutiny required. Critical changes may necessitate a more rigorous review, while minor updates may benefit from a lighter touch.
Reviewers should focus on the most critical aspects of the code while avoiding excessive nitpicking.
Open communication and collaboration, as well as an understanding of the context of the change, can help strike the right balance.
Ultimately, the goal is to improve the codebase, ensure code quality, and facilitate efficient development while respecting the efforts of all team members.
- Excessive Style Guide Adherence: Imagine a scenario where a developer has submitted a pull request that introduces a critical bug fix. However, the reviewer becomes overly fixated on minor formatting details, such as the placement of whitespace or the use of single vs. double quotes for strings. While adherence to coding style guides is essential, focusing on such minutiae in a critical bug fix can be counterproductive and frustrating for the developer.
- Endless Refactoring Requests: In another case, a reviewer might continuously request refactoring of code that is already functional and efficient. They might suggest rewriting entire sections of code to follow a specific design pattern, even if the existing implementation is perfectly suitable. This level of pickiness can lead to unnecessary delays and create a sense of frustration among developers who feel their work is constantly being questioned.
Now, let’s consider an example of a good pull request review:
- Balanced Feedback on Functionality and Security: In this instance, a developer has submitted a pull request for a new feature. The reviewer thoroughly examines the code, providing constructive feedback on potential security vulnerabilities, suggesting improvements to the user interface for better usability, and pointing out a few areas where code clarity could be enhanced. The feedback is clear and well-documented, and it prioritizes the critical aspects of the code that need attention, ensuring that the final result is not only functional but also secure and user-friendly. This type of review strikes a balance between thoroughness and efficiency, contributing positively to the project’s overall quality.