Software is created by humans and humans always have scope for improvement. Performing code reviews is one way to improve software, but they are often seen as time consuming and disruptive. What if your code review could be automated? That’s where PullReview comes in.
Code reviews are important. If you’re a software developer, then you’ve heard this refrain time and again. However, many organizations only pay lip service to that phrase, very few actually make the effort to embed reviews into their processes. The act of asking a peer to review your code means you are disrupting that person and potentially disrupting their flow. Fear of being too disruptive can lead developers to hold off on committing until they’ve made substantial changes, thereby making the review even longer. And so on.
But reviews are an important tool. They help improve code quality and reinforce best practices. More importantly they are a way to learn. This is especially true for junior developers, although even senior developers can learn something new.
“The only way to improve code is to improve the coder.” (Martin@26m20)
Recognizing this need in the developer community, 8th Color has recently launched PullReview. PullReview does just what it says: it reviews Pull requests for Ruby developers using GitHub, BitBucket, and GitLab. The magic is that it does the review automatically, meaning you don’t disrupt other members of your team. The tool reviews the latest changes being submitted and applies rules based on standard conventions and best practices. It then provides recommendations on what should be improved and why.
The ‘why’ is important because in order for a rule to be applied consistently, it must first be understood. This is the real value being offered by PullReview as the tool helps you learn through each review. Further, because it is automated, you can check-in more often to get feedback. No need to wait for a team mate to have time to do the review. It’s also great for people who are developing software solo.
PullReview is the latest creation from 8th Color. You may remember Christophe Philemotte and Martin Van Aken as we interviewed them in 2012 when they were working on a project called Ask Sybil. At the end of 2012 they did some soul searching and realized they were building something which they weren’t excited about. So, they went back to the community and came up with PullReview. Are they happy with their choice? Well, not to give it away, but at one point in this episode, Martin exclaimed, “It’s so simple!”
This is a really interesting episode as we learn more about their pivot, PullReview, their philosophy, and more. We recorded this in July 2013 when they were just entering Alpha. PullReview today is a full fledged product which can be purchased as a monthly subscription. Check them out at PullReview.com.
We paired this episode with a Chimay Premiere, so named because it was the first beer produced at the Notre-Dame de Scourmont Abbey in 1862. Enjoy!