Having worked with code reviews for a while, I strongly sympathize with the thesis put forward by the authors of this paper – code review tools are still far from being supporting for software developers.
Yes, they do automate the process and organize it. Yes, they help in assuring that all code is reviewed and yes, they do help to capture problems in the code and help to spread the knowledge.
However, what I expect from such a tool is to help me to find problems in the code. I would like to have a tool that would help me, as a designer, get better: avoid mistakes, use cool programming constructs, make better design. None of the tools I know help with that.
This paper shows that my understanding is similar to the developers studied in the paper. Documentation – automatically fixing and suggesting were top priority. Renaming suggestions, commenting and explaining were some others.
Detection of duplicated code, architectural analysis and similar things were also mentioned as expectations. I cannot agree more! These things are priority 1 – I would also expect them to be there.
Now, some are more difficult that others – like analyzing the architecture. Not a trivial task at all, cause what is the architecture? Where are the patterns? How to find it from the code? How to rely on the tools that research provides? W’re not there yet.
Duplicate code, however, is something we should be able to fix. I’ve looked at some repository that had over 200 papers about code clones, duplicates and what have you. Are all these papers good? Probably not, but even if 10% is good, then here we have 20 tools we can try.
I agree, we do have SonarQube and similar tools, but they are not integrated with code review. I cannot just link to a report from SQ when writing a review comment. I cannot add a review comment to a detected technical debt in SQ. So, no integration then?
Maybe it’s just a friday afternoon thing, but I hope that we can get better in making the last mile with our tools. Hope that we can address the expectations that the developers have …