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Async Code Reviews Are Killing Your Company’s Throughput - [Old]

"Never had a PR over 300 LoC that didn't look good to me".
We've all been there. The PR is so big you don't even bother commenting. It's already too late to build the quality in. You make a sad face, comment "LGTM", and click approve.

That's still the case in lots of teams but feels like after a long time the industry, on average, learned the value of the Small Batches idea from Lean applied to PRs. And that's a good thing; it's a step in the right direction.
We do a bit of coding, raise a PR and then ask for feedback. People are more likely to engage on smaller PRs. It takes them less time to review it, and they have a feeling that they can still course-correct if something goes astray. PRs go sooner out of the door, and we feel productive as a team.

But, here's the surprise.
What if I told you that teams doing small PRs (with async code reviews) actually have way lower throughput than teams doing big PRs.

"Wait, what?!"
Yes.

I got this surprising systemic insight from analyzing PRs across a bunch of very active repositories and I'll present you with the results of the study.
On the bigger PRs side of the spectrum, we tend to lose quality, while on the smaller PRs end of the spectrum we lose throughput. We're forced to make a trade-off between speed and quality.

But! There's a parallel universe of ways of working where you get to have a cake and eat it too. Where you can have both throughput and quality.
That universe is called co-creation patterns (Pair and Mob programming).

Join me on a journey where I'll show you data invalidating the assumption that two or more people sitting at the same computer will hurt our throughput and why the opposite is actually the case.

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