I just finished reading the “Best Kept Secrets of Peer Code Review (Modern Approach. Practical Advice.)“, by Jason Cohen. While this book is available from resellers at Amazon.com, for the time being it is being offered free of charge from Smart Bear Software, a software tool company founded by the book’s author.

While I fully expected this compact book to be little more than a blatant promotion for Smart Bear’s Code Collaborator, I was pleasantly surprised. To be sure, there is a chapter that discusses the capabilities of the tool in the context of the book, but outside of that, any mention of their tool is relegated to the occasional footnote.

The remaining content, while not exactly earth-shaking, are an easy-reading and informative look at the use of peer code reviews in the real-world. Mr. Cohen examines the “heavyweight” inspections of attributed to Fagan; and then looks at other techniques that have evolved in pursuit of efficiency.

There are several fascinating tidbits in the book, such as a cited study which analyzed eye movements during review; and therefore suggest some interesting insights into how code should be structure to support efficient manual reviews. They also provide insight extrapolated from a number of other studies that suggest some indication of the efficacy of formal review meetings.

One large component of the book is a chapter that is touted as “the largest case study ever done on lightweight code review process”. This chapter describes the results of a study conducted jointly by Smart Bear Software and Cisco Systems. The study contains some unexpected results with regard to correlations between various participants and results; but in my opinion fails to ask some relevant questions, such as the relationship between measured code complexity (McCabe or function-point) and defects-per-KLOC; or defects found per developer-reviewer pairs.

While this book is undeniably a marketing tool aiming to promote Smart Bear’s tools; it is contains a great deal of information that should prove valuable to software developers and managers alike. Its value definitely exceeds the asking price.

About Max H:
Max is a father, a husband, and a man of many interests. He is also a consulting software architect with over 3 decades experience in the design and implementation of complex software. View his Linked-In profile at http://www.linkedin.com/pro/swarchitect