Code review is a process in which software is reviewed by a team of developers to make sure it follows some best practices to improve the quality of the software.
Automated code review can be defined as the process of comparing the code against a set of predefined rules or standard guidelines in order to identify common mistakes and bad practices.
Reviewing code is important because not everyone writes the code in a similar way. There can be some mistakes in the code written by a developer, or the code might not be well-optimized. To overcome these shortcomings, a team of developers reviews the code and checks for any badly written code.
Why is automated code review necessary?
When developers review a particular piece of code, they have some basic principles or methods of writing code in their minds. In other words, they follow a pre-defined set of rules to ensure good code quality. So, why can’t we automate the process of reviewing code with the help of pre-defined rules? You can, and that’s what automated code review is.
By automating reviewing code through a set of standard rules, developers can focus on reviewing code for more complex problems. Automated code review should be in complement manual code review to ensure high-quality software.
The experience of developers is necessary for manual code review, so that they can tackle more nuanced problems in code, while automated code review saves time by identifying common mistakes and bad practices that could arise in a particular codebase.
How does automated code review work?
Automated code review is performed by a software tool that checks or validates a particular piece of code against some standard set of guidelines. These tools are much faster and can perform in-depth code review. The code is reviewed for issues such as security, code style, errors or bugs, bad practices, etc.
After identifying the anomalies, with the help of a code review tool, you can push those changes to your code base with the help of tools such as GitHub, GitLab, etc. Code review tools can also be integrated with code management tools such as GitHub, so that you get notifications when your code review tool detects anomalies.
Why should you use an automated code review tool?
Manual code review is extremely important for identifying rare problems with the code. The expertise of developers can be leveraged to get a new perspective and identify problems that aren’t trivial.
But, if you use an automated code review tool, you not only can save time but resources too. Automated code review can be performed from any location, and it’s really efficient. Here are some advantages of using an automated code review tool:
- Fast & Efficient
- Less Human Effort
- Lower Cost
Things to consider while choosing an automated code review tool
Here are some points which you need to take into account while looking for an automated code review tool:
- It should easily integrate with your existing workflow.
- It should do static or dynamic code analysis as per your requirement.
- The tool should quickly identify security vulnerabilities in your code.
- It should be reliable and should not produce too many false positives or false negatives.
With that being said, let’s look at some automated code review tools which you can use to improve code quality.
Codacy is an automated code review tool for static analysis. Static analysis is done before running your code and is mainly used to test logic and code styling. Codacy can be integrated with popular tools such as GitHub, Slack, Gitlab, BitBucket, etc. Also, it supports more than 40 programming languages.
Some of the features of Codacy are as follows:
- Workflow Integration – Codacy can be integrated with Slack, which is a communication tool and can be used to notify developers when needed.
- User Management – It provides a dashboard where you can manage all members of your GitHub organization.
- Custom Configuration – You can choose from a variety of rules and standards provided by Codacy, or you can use the configuration file.
- Code Coverage – Track which lines of codes are under review and which aren’t.
It provides free access to open-source teams, but you have to pay if you are an individual developer, small team or enterprise level teams.
- Extensible software analysis framework
- Multilingual Support
- Support for self-hosted projects
Codebeat is a decent tool for static analysis. The good thing about it is that it offers a free plan which allows open-source repositories to use the tool as well as manage the team.
Deepsource is a code review and management tool which allows you to build maintainable and secure software. It is an all-in-one platform for static analysis, security analysis, code coverage, infrastructure-as-code analysis, code reports, and much more.
- Supports all major programming languages.
- Lesser false positives.
- Secrets Scanning – Warns if confidential information such as passwords or secret keys are detected.
- Reliable & Safe – Changes are made only through pull requests without affecting your main branch.
An advantage of using Deepsource is that you can self-host/deploy your own Deepsource Enterprise Server on-premises or on your own private cloud storage service. This feature gives you full control of your code, and you can scale it as per your requirement.
Deepsource offers a free plan for personal accounts and small teams.
Snyk is a code security platform focused on security intelligence. It can automatically identify security vulnerabilities in your code and also fix them if required. The integration with code management tools such as GitHub is easy and convenient.
It also enables continuous monitoring of your code whenever you code and make a change. It will notify you if it finds any security vulnerability using its security intelligence. Also, pull requests(PRs) can be automatically generated for security fixes which requires you to only merge the PR and move on.
- Developer-centric Security
- Easy Integration
- Effortless Automation
- Cloud Security
Snyk offers a free plan in which you can use its products, such as Snyk Code, Snyk Open Source, Snyk Container & IaC. Under its enterprise plan, it offers you a custom pricing structure.
Codegrip is a code review automation tool that lets you manage all of your code review tasks in one place. It will scan the project after every commit made by a developer. It also provides a dashboard that presents your code coverage and other metrics. It helps in managing and rectifying code duplications.
- Slack Integration
- Dashboard Oriented
- Review Rule Customization
Codegrip offers a free plan and a self-hosted plan, among many other pricing plans.
Codiga offers a customizable static code analysis tool which integrates easily with your IDE and workflow. It works with popular code editors and IDEs such as VS Code, Visual Studio, JetBrains, etc. It provides real-time code fixes right into your IDE. Using git hooks, it checks your code before pushing it to platforms such as GitHub.
- Integration with IDE and CI/CD
- Autofixing Code
- Real Time Updates in IDE
- Custom Code Analysis Rules
- Detect Leaked Secrets
Codiga offers a free plan for open-source projects and individuals.
No tool is perfect. While choosing a code review tool, make sure it satisfies your requirements and provides basic functionalities. As mentioned earlier, focus on the points and select your tool accordingly.
You may also be interested in knowing about these tools for managing and auditing code quality.