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Review Board - Online Code Review Tool

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Code reviews improve quality, and serve as an excellent means for knowledge sharing and mentorship. Unfortunately, the preparation effort and lack of tool support has made it all too easy to let it slip "until later". Review Board aims to change that by providing an application that supports the code review process. Some of the features of the application include:

  • Detailed review requests that brings together all the information required for the review, including code changes and screenshots
  • A diff viewer that supports writing comments directly on the relevant lines of code
  • Contextual discussions
  • A dashboard that summarizes incoming and outgoing reviews

Review Board has been gaining endorsements from early adopters in the open source community since the announcement last May by the developers - Christian Hammond and David Trowbridge from VMWare. The functionality of Review Board has so far been progressing rapidly, with users blogging about their installation experiences as well as comments such as this from Joe Heck:

I think one of the most impressive things about ReviewBoard is that it supports a nice mechanism, and some example scripts, for doing a pre-checkin review.

Review Board ideally works for reviewing patches. A "post review" tool is used in conjunction with the SCM system (currently SVN, CVS, Perforce, Git, and Mercurial repositories are supported), that allows you to request a review for changes about to be committed. The UserBasics page describes the process as:

    1. You make some awesome change to your local checkout.
    2. You create a review request by posting a diff, writing a description, and selecting some reviewers.
    3. You click "Publish" on the review request and wait for your reviewers to see it.
    4. Other people look at your review request, say "that is awesome, except some stuff is broken."
    5. You update your code to address some of their comments.
    6. You post an updated diff, and respond to their comments indicating what you changed (or you respond indicating why you're not going to make some change they suggested)
    7. People look at your updated code, and give you the go ahead.
    8. You commit your change to the repository.
    9. You click "Set Submitted" on the review request to remove it from peoples' dashboards.
Review Board is hosted on Google Code, and released under an MIT/X11 style license.

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