Understanding the Experience of Code Review: Misalignments, Attention, and Units of Analysis

This study identified common problems that frustrate developers in the code review process.

Jun 13, 2022

Code review is a common practice in software development and numerous studies have described different aspects of the process; its characteristics, the expectations on that process, issues around reviewer allocation, and more. However, one aspect that has not been studied to a large extent is the experience of the developers in the code review process. This is unfortunate given the significant amount of time that developers spend on this activity, where problems that degrade developers’ experience on a daily basis can create work environment issues. In this paper, we present an extended analysis of an exploratory mixed-method study where we focus on developers’ experience of code review. We use semi-structured interviews to gather data from two multi-national companies and conduct a follow-up survey. Our results suggest that developers are frequently bothered by misalignments in the code review tooling and process which is hindering them in carrying out their code review tasks effectively. We present an initial characterization of misalignments that may hamper the developer experience. Based on our findings, we propose directions for further exploration to improve the developer experience.

  • Emma Sörderberg
  • Luke Church
  • Jürgen Börstler
  • Diederick Niehorster
  • Christofer Rydenfält

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