Shifting left quality and security testing has finally become a practice that organizations are embracing. But even before testing the code comes code review, beginning at the earliest stages of development. Code review is essential for detecting and remediating code defects and errors before production, when they are relatively easy and less expensive to address.
Happily, along with the many automated DevSecOps tools on the market, code review tools can help teams collaborate and track changes easily throughout their code review process. Human error is a natural part of the development process, and code review tools help ensure that those errors are addressed swiftly.
The Benefits of an Automated Code Review Tool
Apart from speeding up the development process, there are many additional advantages to using an automated code review tool. Using a code review tool can help teams ensure that a continuous code review process is in place, that all the code review steps are implemented by the relevant team members, and that issues are tracked and resolved.
Code review also helps support collaboration between team members and across teams which is another important component of DevSecOps practices. Code review tools help ensure that ownership over code quality and security is shared, and that each voice is heard and addressed. This reduces friction between teams and also saves a lot of valuable time by providing team members with a platform for discussion and decision-making.
Another feature that many code review tools provide is the ability to save and view the history of a bug or defect, making it easy to document, track, and share knowledge. This documented history of the code review process is also a great learning resource for newer team members.
Our 9 Favorite Code Review Tools
Code review tools come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. We’ve put together a list of some of the top tool review tools in the market today, to give you a sample of what’s out there.
Crucible is Atlassian's enterprise-level collaborative code review tool. It enables users to review code, discuss changes, share knowledge, and identify bugs and defects as part of their workflow. It supports SVN, Git, Mercurial, CVS, and Perforce. Being part of the Atlassian family, Crucible easily integrates with Jira, Bitbucket Server, Bamboo, and many other tools that are part of the development workflow.
Crucible provides developers with the option of pinpointing the issues that they are referring to by commenting inline.
Upsource promises developers that it can help them achieve better code quality, and advance their skills. It also supports collaboration by making changes visible to the whole team, and enabling teams to engage in technical discussions through effective code reviews.
It also enables users to easily keep track of changes and discussions by providing a unique ID to each code review. This allows team members to exchange comments over specific lines of code or discuss changes in general.
This is often a go-to solution for developers that are already managing their codebase on GitHub, since lightweight code review tools are built into every pull request, enabling developers to seamlessly integrate code reviews into their workflow. Users can preview changes, and track history by browsing commits, comments, and references related to their pull requests. It also supports collaboration by allowing users to comment inline and request peer reviews.
Gerrit is an open source web based git code review tool originally developed by Google over their Git version control system.
It helps users to collaborate and discuss code changes by providing syntax highlighting and colored differences to help them compare old and new versions of files, allowing comments on every single line of code added.
It also enables easy workflow management with integrated access controls that can be delegated. Gerrit workflows provide strong quality and security gates by blocking commits until they are reviewed so that teams can be confident that all code is reviewed before it's added to the repository.
Phabricator is an open source code review tool developed at Facebook, that integrates with git, Mercurial, and svn. It’s a comprehensive toolset that provides teams with a number of solutions to build better software, faster.
In addition to code reviews, Phabricator provides solutions that support many stages of the development life cycle. It includes applications that help developers manage tasks and sprints, host git, svn, or Mercurial repositories, build with continuous integration, track bugs, and have conversations in internal chat channels.
Organizations can either download and install the Phabricator on their server, or use Phacility’s cloud-hosted version.
Rhodecode is a source code management solution for enterprises that supports Mercurial, Git, and SVN. It provides developers with code review tools and custom APIs while promising their team leaders and managers unified security and access controls. In addition to the enterprise version, RhodeCode also offers developers a free and open source version.
RhodeCode supports collaboration across teams during the code review process by enabling team members to discuss and manage source code changes. It also helps speed up development with automated workflows that allow developers to integrate an existing code base with new tools and issue trackers. RhodeCode also offers permission control and compliance audits and reports for managers.
#7 Review Board
Review Board is a web-based open source code review tool that supports SVN, Git, Mercurial, CVS, and Perforce.
Some developers recommend it for smaller teams since it’s simple and easy to use. It allows users to review more than just code, and also supports collaborative reviews of documentation, artwork, website designs, interface mock-ups, release announcements, and feature specifications.
When it comes to code reviews, it supports pre-commit and post-commit reviews on multiple environments and source code management systems.
Review Board presents syntax-highlighted diffs so that developers can easily see changes, and multi-line commenting. In order to ensure issues are addressed users can choose to track issues.
Collaborator is Smartbear's enterprise-level code review tool. It promises to bridge the gap between development, testing, and management teams by providing comprehensive peer review tools that cover project requirements, user stories, and design documents, source code, and test plans.
Collaborator supports a wide variety of SCMs including Git, SVN, TFS, Perforce, CVS, ClearCase, RTC, and more. It also integrates with many platforms, including GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket, Jira, Eclipse, and Visual Studio, to name a few.
Collaborator allows teams to tailor the code review process to their needs with a variety of review templates, custom fields, and customizable checklists and workflows.
#9 Visual Expert
It boasts providing hundreds of features that help developers understand, maintain, and improve their code, including analyzing cross-references, generating crud matrix, creating code documentation, improving database code performance, generating diagrams, and, of course, reviewing the code.
Choosing the Right Code Review Tool
Clearly, there is a variety of code review tools, and there is never a one-size-fits-all solution. Each tool comes with its own particular set of features and enhancements, and there are so many tools out there that choosing one might seem overwhelming at first.
The good news is that code review tools are offered on a wide variety of platforms, for many different types of organizations, teams, and workflows. If there is a specific feature that you need in your code review process, if you are thorough with your market research, you are sure to find it.
The important thing is to take a close look at the way your team and organization works, your systems, the tools that you are already using, and your processes. Work with your teams to decide where you need the most support, which features are a must. Then you can go forth and choose the best code review tool for you.