Open Source Code Review

he goal of the Open Source Code Review Project is to promote open source development practices and enable collaboration among software developers. The project has a vast array of reviews, bookmarks and source code snippets. There are also various projects compiled by their helpful users. These projects cover everything from code formatting guides to boilerplates and code examples. We hope that this list can help you and your team in your next project!

1. Review Board

Review Board is a web-based, open source tool for code review. To test this code review tool, you can either explore the demo on their website or download and set up the software on your server.

Code review tools: Review Board Overview
Review Board Overview

The Python programming language and its installers, MySQL or PostgreSQL as a database, and a web server are the prerequisites to run Review Board on a server.

You can integrate Review Board with a wide range of version control systems — Git, Mercurial, CVS, Subversion and Perforce. You can also link Review Board to Amazon S3 for storing screenshots directly in the tool.

Review Board Changes Overview
Review Board Changes Overview

Review Board lets you perform both pre-commit and post-commit code reviews depending on your requirements. If you haven’t integrated a version control system, you can use a diff file to upload code changes to the tool for a review.

A graphical comparison of changes in your code is also provided. In addition to code reviews, Review Board lets you conduct document reviews too.

The first version of Review Board came out over a decade ago, but it’s still in active development. Therefore, the community for Review Board has grown over the years and you will likely find support if you have any issues using the tool.

Review Board is a simple tool for code reviews, which you can host on your server. You should give it a try if you do not wish to host your code on a public website.

2. Crucible

Crucible is a collaborative code review tool by Atlassian. It is a commercial suite of tools that allows you to review code, discuss plans changes, and identify bugs across a host of version control systems.

Crucible provides two payment plans, one for small teams and while the other for enterprises. For a small team, you need to make a one-time payment of $10 for unlimited repositories limited to five users. For large teams, the fees start at $1100 for ten users and unlimited repositories.

Both these plans offer a 30-day free trial without the need for a credit card.

Code review tools: Crucible Code Review Tool
Crucible Code Review Tool (Source)

Similar to Review Board, Crucible supports a large number of version control systems — SVN, Git, Mercurial, CVS, and Perforce. Its primary function is to enable you to perform code reviews. In addition to overall comments on the code, it allows you to comment inline within the diff view to pinpoint exactly what you’re referring to specifically.

Crucible integrates well with Atlassian’s other enterprise products like Confluence and Enterprise BitBucket. However, you will possibly get the most benefits from Crucible by using it alongside Jira, Atlassian’s Issue, and Project Tracker. It allows you to perform pre-commit reviews and audits on merged code.

3. GitHub

If you use GitHub to maintain your Git repositories on the cloud, you may have already used forks and pull requests to review code. In case you have no idea of what GitHub is, here’s a beginner’s guide to GitHub and the differences between Git and GitHub.

Code review tools: GitHub Code Review Tool within a Pull Request
GitHub Code Review Tool within a Pull Request

GitHub has an inbuilt code review tool in its pull requests. The code review tool is bundled with GitHub’s core service, which provides a free plan for developers. GitHub’s free plan limits the number of users to three in private repositories. Paid plans start at $7 per month.

GitHub allows a reviewer with access to the code repository to assign themselves to the pull request and complete a review. A developer who has submitted the pull request may also request a review from an administrator.

In addition to the discussion on the overall pull request, you are able to analyze the diff, comment inline, and check the history of changes. The code review tool also allows you to resolve simple Git conflicts through the web interface. GitHub even allows you to integrate with additional review tools through its marketplace to create a more robust process.

The GitHub code review tool is a great tool if you are already on the platform. It does not require any additional installation or configuration. The primary issue with the GitHub code review tool is that it supports only Git repositories hosted on GitHub. If you are looking for a similar code review tool that you can download and host on your server, you can try GitLab.

4. Phabricator

Phabricator is a list of open source tools by Phacility that assist you in reviewing code. While you can download and install the suite of code review tools on your server, Phacility also provides a cloud-hosted version of Phabricator.

You have no limitations if you install it on your server. However, you’ll be charged $20 per user per month (with an upper cap of $1000/month), which includes support. To give it a try, you can opt for a 30-day free trial.

Code review tools: Core review tools: Phabricator
Phabricator

Phabricator supports the three most popular version control systems — Git, Mercurial, and SVN. It can manage local repositories, as well as track externally hosted repositories. You can scale it to multiple servers too.

Beyond a Traditional Code Review Tool

Phabricator provides a detailed platform to have a conversation with your team members. You can either have a pre-commit review of a new team member or conduct a review on the newly submitted code. You can conduct a review on merged code too, a process that Phabricator calls as “audit”. Here’s a comparison between a review and an audit on Phabricator.

Phabricator’s additional tools help you in the overall software development cycle. For instance, it provides you with a built-in tracker to manage bugs and features. You can also create a wiki for your software within the tool through Phriction. To integrate the tool with unit tests, you may use Phabricator’s CLI tool. You can build applications over Phabricator through its API as well.

In summary, Phabricator provides you with a ton of features that help you in making your development process more efficient. It makes complete sense to opt for this tool if your project is in an early stage. If you do not have the expertise to set it up on your server, you should opt for the hosted version of the tool.

5. Collaborator

Collaborator by SmartBear is a peer code and document review tool for development teams. In addition to source code review, Collaborator enables teams to review design documents too. A 5-user license pack is priced at $535 a year. A free trial is available depending on your business requirements.

Code review tools: Collaborator Review
Collaborator Review Source

Collaborator supports a large number of version control systems like Subversion, Git, CVS, Mercurial, Perforce, and TFS. It does a good job of integrating with popular project management tools and IDEs like Jira, Eclipse, and Visual Studio.

This tool also enables reporting and analysis of key metrics related to your code review process. Moreover, Collaborator helps in audit management and bug tracking as well. If your tech stack involves enterprise software and you need support to set up your code review process, you should give Collaborator a try.

6. CodeScene

CodeScene is a code review tool that goes beyond traditional static code analysis. It performs behavioral code analysis by including a temporal dimension to analyze the evolution of your codebase. CodeScene is available in two forms: a cloud-based solution and an on-premise solution.

CodeScene’s cloud-based plans start free for public repositories hosted on GitHub. For up to ten private repositories and a team of ten members, CodeScene costs €99 (about $115) per month. An on-premise installation of CodeScene costs €15 (about $17) per developer per month.

Code review tools: CodeScene Code Review Tool Analysis
CodeScene Code Review Tool Analysis

CodeScene processes your version control history to provide code visualizations. In addition to this, it applies machine learning algorithms to identify social patterns and hidden risks in code.

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Through the version control history, CodeScene profiles ever team member to map out their knowledge base and create inter-team dependencies. It also introduces the concept of hotspots in your repository by identifying files that undergo the most development activity. These hotspots require the highest attention going forward.

CodeScene Knowledge Maps
CodeScene Knowledge Maps

If you are looking for a tool that goes beyond a traditional, conversational code review tool, make sure to check out the free trial of CodeScene. To learn more about the underlying logic behind CodeScene’s behavioral code analysis, check out this white paper on CodeScene’s use cases and roles.

7. Visual Expert

Visual Expert is an enterprise solution for code review specializing in database code. It has support for three platforms only: PowerBuilder, SQL Server, and Oracle PL/SQL. If you are using any other DBMS, you will not be able to integrate Visual Expert for code review.

A free trial is available, but you need to send a request to get a quote on its pricing.

Visual Expert Code Review Tool Overview
Visual Expert Code Review Tool Overview (Source)

In addition to a traditional code review, Visual Expert analyzes each change in your code to foresee any performance issues due to the changes. The tool can automatically generate complete documentation of your application from the code too.

If you are using PowerBuilder, SQL Server, or Oracle PL/SQL and would like a specialized code review tool for your needs, you should try out Visual Expert (here is a guide on building efficient WordPress queries).

8. Gerrit

Gerrit is a free and open source web-based code review tool for Git repositories, written in Java. To run Gerrit, you need to download the source code and run it in Java. Here’s the installation process for a standalone version of Gerrit.

Gerrit Code Review Tool
Gerrit Code Review Tool

Gerrit combines the functionality of a bug tracker and a review tool into one. During a review, changes are displayed side by side in a unified diff, with the possibility to initiate a conversation for every line of code added. This tool works as an intermediate step between a developer and the central repository. Additionally, Gerrit also incorporates a voting system.

If you possess the technical expertise to install and configure Gerrit, and you are looking for a free code review tool, it should serve as an ideal solution for your projects.

9. Rhodecode

Rhodecode is a web-based tool that assists you in performing code reviews. It supports three version control systems: Mercurial, Git, and Subversion. A cloud-based version of Rhodecode starts at $8 per user per month, whereas an on-premise solution costs $75 per user per year. While it is enterprise software, its community edition, which is free and open source, can be downloaded and compiled free of charge.

Code review tools: Rhodecode
Rhodecode

Rhodecode enables a team to collaborate effectively through iterative, conversational code reviews to improve code quality. This tool additionally provides a layer of permission management for secure development.

In addition, a visual changelog helps you navigate the history of your project across various branches. An online code editor is also provided for small changes through the web interface.

Rhodecode integrates seamlessly with your existing projects, which makes it a great choice for someone looking for a web-based code review tool. Therefore, the community edition is ideal for those with technical expertise looking for a free and dependable code review tool.

10. Veracode

Veracode provides a suite of code review tools that let you automate testing, accelerate development, integrate a remediation process, and improve the efficiency of your project. The suite of code review tools by Veracode is marketed as a security solution that searches for vulnerability in your systems. They provide a set of two code review tools:

Veracode Overview

Code review is a part of the Software Composition Analysis and you can opt for a demo of Veracode before committing fully to it. 

Conclusion

Open source code review is a practice that can aid, and even improve your development team. These tools help manage and communicate the process of peer review to the rest of your team. Your developers will be more aware of ways to improve the code, and can better understand the capabilities of their fellow developers through real-world examples. But most importantly, your whole team will become invested in your projects and they’re likely to provide more attentive support, because they will understand every aspect of your code.

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