By Laura Macleod, Michaela Greiler, Margaret-Anne Storey, Christian Bird, and Jacek Czerwonka

Code review is a software practice that is widely adopted by and adapted to open source and industrial projects. Code review practices have been researched extensively, with most studies relying on trace data from tool reviews, augmented by surveys and interviews in a few cases. Several recent industrial research studies—in addition to blog posts and white papers—have exposed additional insights on code reviewing “from the trenches”.

Unfortunately, the lessons learned about code reviewing are widely dispersed and poorly summarized by existing literature. In particular, practitioners wishing to adopt or reflect on a new or existing code review process may find it difficult to know which challenges to expect and which best practices to adopt for their specific development context.

Building on the existing literature, we add insights from a recent large-scale study of the code review practices of Microsoft developers to summarize the challenges faced by code change authors and reviewers, suggest best practices for code reviewing, and mention trade-offs that practitioners should consider.


  author = {Laura Macleod and Michaela Greiler and Margaret-Anne Storey
    and Christian Bird and Jacek Czerwonka},
  title={{Code Reviewing in the Trenches: Understanding Challenges,
    Best Practices, and Tool Needs}},
  journal={{IEEE Software}},
  publisher={IEEE Computer Society},


Code Reviewing in the Trenches: Understanding Challenges, Best Practices, and Tool Needs

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