An Introduction to Gauge’s Code Review and QA Process

Code Review and Quality Assurance (QA) are two integral processes of software development that offer a wide range of benefits. Most of the time, our clients aren’t aware of these processes, because they happen in the background. But having a solid structure for code review and QA can hugely impact the agency/client relationship. For example, here are just a few of the most important benefits these two processes offer to both our clients and our development team:

  1. Finding bugs: Just like writing text, when writing code it’s very easy to overlook your own mistakes. A typo in your published text can be embarrassing, but an error in your published code can bring down an entire site. This is by far the most important reason to perform code reviews.
  2. Following coding standards: Making sure all code written follows a consistent coding style is vital for future site modifications and collaborations.
  3. Sharing knowledge between developers: There are always multiple ways to accomplish coding tasks. By sharing experiences and knowledge, developers are able to figure out the best way to complete a task. Code reviews offer a practical and natural way for senior developers to mentor team members with less experience.
  4. Following platform best practices: Most eCommerce platforms, Magento in particular, are constantly being updated and patched to increase security and provide new features. When web developers follow platform best practices, these upgrades and modifications are much easier to put into place.
  5. Securing code: Consumers trust eCommerce retailers with sensitive information like credit card numbers and addresses. No one wants to deal with hackers and the chaos they can cause. Site security begins with your code. Regular code reviews and QA processes can catch security loopholes before they’re introduced to your site.

Keeping QA Quick & Accurate

Often, the term “code review” is met with a cringe. Developers work hard to shorten development cycles, and introducing another step in the cycle inevitably slows production down. Luckily, there are a multitude of review techniques and tools available to keep the code review process quick and efficient. Prioritization also keeps the system moving. Code reviews aren’t meant to flag every single potential issue; when the new code won’t affect sensitive data, it’s industry-standard to allow for a small margin of error. When the process is lightweight, code reviews fit nicely within the development cycle and allow optimized, accurate code to be deployed quickly, to the client’s delight.

The Tools: Stalks & Stacks

At Gauge, we’ve developed our own procedure for reviewing code, and for verifying that the site’s content is standard across all browsers. The two main tools we use are Beanstalk and BrowserStack. We use Beanstalk to store all our code, which allows us to quickly and easily deploy code from anywhere, to anywhere, including to our staging and production environments. The easy-to-read format also highlights new code, removed code, and any code that has been altered, so we can easily spot and review differences before the new version is deployed. Avoiding the need to peruse through code to spot these differences ourselves drastically cuts down our review time.

BrowserStack is a great tool we use for testing cross-browser compatibility. Making sure content reacts correctly at all common browser widths is hard enough on its own. Compound that with hundreds of different browser applications and device sizes, and you can see how it’s nearly impossible for content to react flawlessly on all media without changes to the code. BrowserStack’s easy-to-use interface cuts down on testing by allowing us to see how the content will behave in different browsers available for almost any device, including iPhones, Androids, PCs, and Macs. Of course, we can’t test for every scenario imaginable, but by using analytics, we can test on more than 99% of a site’s traffic media.

Good For You, Good For Us

Code review is always valuable to our clients, but at Gauge we make the code review process valuable to our developers as well. Our developers each take pride in their code, and the thought of someone combing through your code looking for what you’ve messed up can be stressful. We foster a different perspective by taking a positive view; if a developer’s code includes errors or defects, it presents an opportunity for coaching and professional growth.

Code reviews present regular opportunities for our developers to correct bad habits or learn new skills. The whole point of a code review is to make sure that every line of code we deliver to our clients is the best it can be. If a developer’s code can be better, there’s no counter-argument; it should be changed, and that developer should benefit from the experience. Every code review should strengthen the developer’s coding capabilities.

No End in Sight

Although the code review and QA process starts inside our agency, it never really ends. Issues can still slip through to the live site without being spotted. We rely on our client’s help and feedback to find and correct those issues. Our clients are the experts on their own sites, so their knowledge and input is always valuable and always welcome. Our developers work with our clients to continually improve and optimize their sites. That’s what partnership means to us.

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