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Improved Code Review Comments in Review Assistant

Summary: One of our main missions, while working on the new version of Review Assistant was to improve user experience in general. This article describes how we have solved some UX problems related to the commenting on code.

This is the second article in a series of What’s New in Review Assistant 2.0. First of all  I would recommend reading the previous article “Code Review Board Re-designed“.

Commenting Overview

Discussion around the code — is the main part of the code review process.

  • Reviewers look through the code, ask questions, write comments, and also mark defects.
  • The code author, in turn responds to the comments, fixes defects, and bugs.
  • The author can also defend their notion, arguing with reviewers.

The conversation subsequently develops into a discussion. A single review can be compared with a mini forum, where review comments are topics on this forum. According to a survey, a single review may contain at the average about 10 comments.

Code Review Board UI Improvements

  • Multiple-line comments are fully displayed.
    Previously, only the first line of a comment was visible in the collapsed view.
  • Comment’s author name is fully visible in the collapsed view.
    In the previous version only initial letters were displayed.
  • The number of responses is now visible in the comment header.
  • The comment status is displayed as a bright text label
    Previously, we used various colors and icons that were obscure to users.
  • Unambiguous comment status changing
    Previously a user could change a comment status in two ways. This approach baffled users.
  • The Code Review Board window has now a single scrollbar.

Associating comments with changesets

Besides UI improvements we have made a significant change in the algorithm of associating comments with code.

How it was in v 1.x

Previously, while adding a comment the application memorized the file name and the code line. A file revision containing comments was calculated based on the revisions range attached to a review.

This caused some problems in case of significant file changes. It was difficult enough for a reviewer to determine, which line of code initially contained a comment. Although we corrected the comment position automatically, there were some cases when it didn’t help.

What became better in Review Assistant v 2.0

The new version introduces the following improvements:

  • The application memorizes a file revision identifier while adding a comment.
  • While clicking a file name inside a comment, a files comparison opens. The reviewer can see an old revision with their comments, and modified code in the same window. All changes are highlighted in colors.

This allows the reviewer to get the direction to what exactly was changed.

Start reviewing code

Download our peer code review tool and start reviewing code with Review Assistant for free today.