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Bharathi Kannan

Things I look for during the Code Review

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Photo ByJohn Schnobrich

While reviewing the code from my team, I always look for certain items and suggest changes. In the projects I have worked on, I have created documentation for coding standards, which I enforce throughout the codebase. However, it can be challenging to copy the documentation from one place to another. Therefore, I'm writing this post, and it will serve as a base set of coding standards that I enforce on most of the code bases. Please feel free to provide your comments.

Before We Begin#

There are some basic items that we need to put in place in our repository to make the code review process smoother. These include:

  • We should not worry about indentation, quotes, and formatting during the code review. These tasks can be handled by tools like Prettier.

  • We should not worry about suggesting basic things like missing dependencies in useEffect and useCallback, or unused variables. These checks are the responsibility of ESLint.

  • It is important to set up these tools in the repository and ensure that everyone in the project configures them on their local system.

I will continue to update this post as I discover new items to add to the list.


In all the projects I have worked in, all of them followed Agile practices, they typically use software like JIRA to manage the Scrum. There will be user stories, epics, technical stories etc.

  • It is important to ensure that each story has clear and well-defined acceptance criteria. This helps guide the code review process and ensures that the changes being made meet the requirements. If acceptance criteria are not defined or lack clarity, it is recommended to check with the product owner and address them.

  • It is beneficial to tag each pull request to a specific story. This helps track the progress and link the code changes to the corresponding user story.

  • Try to keep the Pull requests as small as possible. If a story requires a huge change in the codebase, then it means the story is not properly broken into individual sub-tasks. Keeping PRs as short as possible will make sure the code review is done as quickly as possible.

  • If you couldn't avoid a huge change for a ticket, then you can follow the practice of raising the PRs in parts. For example, if you are making a change that affects 3 pages/sections of your application. You can raise PR for each section and tag the same story number to all the PRs.

Ticket-421 Part 1
Ticket-421 Part 2
Ticket-421 Part 3
  • Add proper description to the Pull Requests. Do not solely rely on the ticket to provide the context for reviewers. Remember, Ticket will help the product to understand the feature updates and PR descriptions will help the reviewers (and your future self) to understand the code changes.

  • When raising PRs for bug fix, it should have these items

Issue: <Describe the issue>
Reason: <Root cause of the issue>
Fix Made: <What fix is applied>
Screenshot/Video: <Proof>
Tests Added: Yes / No <If No, then add proper reason of why this fix can't be tested>

All these can be enforced by having a Pull request templates

Code Review#

  • I typically encourage the team to check out the source branch of the PR and run locally to test the changes.

  • Use tools like GitLens to compare the file changes right from your code editor. It's easy to spot issues if you are making changes and reviewing changes in the same environment.

  • Adding to the above point, the diff that we see in GitHub/Bitbucket, etc. doesn't give you a full picture of what's happening. To add more context, you need to open the file in new window to check the changes, instead of that I prefer to review the code in the same editor that I use to write the code.

  • Add a link to commonly followed best practices or coding guidelines and build project-specific standards on top of it. I recommend Airbnb Style Guide as a base. This has some good rules to start with.

  • Avoid nested ternaries as much as possible. Ternaries make code hard to read.

function Component({ role, manager }) {
return role === "admin" ? manager === true ? "Welcome, Boss!" : "Welcome, Admin!" : "Welcome, User!"

Instead of the above, this can be simplified as below

function Component({ role, manager }) {
if(role === "admin") {
if(manager) {
return "Welcome, Boss!"
return "Welcome, Admin!"
return "Welcome, User!"
import { Button } from "../../../components/button" // ❌ Avoid
import { Button } from "@components/button" // ✅ Good
  • Do not put hard restrictions on a number of lines in a file. Instead, prefer to have a general guideline on number of lines per component. Though this is debatable, having less number of code for a component makes it easy to read and maintain.

  • Follow proper file name patterns, the name of the component and the filename should match, so that it's easy to search and work.

I have seen codebases where everything is a default export with index.jsx, and at one point when you are working in multiple files, your code editor will look not so nice. So, prefer this pattern if it suits your codebase.

// FILE: src/components/button/button.jsx
function Button() {
export { Button }
// FILE: src/components/button/index.js
export * from "./button"; // re-export everything from button
// FILE: src/pages/login
import { Button } from "@components/button" // Will go to index.js file

We can use new-component utility to create component file structures like this easily.

  • Try to create as many custom hooks as you can, and reuse them throughout the code base. If you are spotting a useEffect in a PR, then it probably could be put into an useCustomHook.

  • Ensure the team follows the Rules of React.

  • The major ingredient to follow the rules of react is to understand why the components and hooks must be pure.

  • Understand how react renders the components and follow the rules of hooks.

Providing Feedbacks#

Be polite while providing feedback.

Remember, we are reviewing the code and not the person.

Check Exactly what to say in code reviews article on how to provide feedback during code reviews.

Just posting the excerpt from the above article:

  • “I wonder…” - Use it to suggest lightly while opening it up for discussion

    • Example: “I wonder if we could use a switch statement here instead of multiple if-else blocks.”
  • “I’m curious…” - Use it to call out something that may not be great about the current approach

    • Example: “I'm curious about the accessibility of these custom UI components. Do we have something in place to give us guarantees around that?”
  • “What do you think about…” - Use it to make a direct suggestion while still leaving room for the other person to give their thoughts

    • Example: “What do you think about using map here instead of mutating the array for safety?”
  • “What would happen if…” - Use it when you are pretty sure an edge case is not handled, but you still want to allow the other person to tell you something you’re not aware of.

    • Example: “What would happen if the API returns an error here?”
  • “I noticed… What are your thoughts?” - Use it if you notice something about the approach that could be better but want to invite feedback on your suggestion

    • Example: “I noticed the other files in this folder have x convention. Should we match that here?”
  • “What > why” - Use “what” instead of “why” wherever possible. It softens the language to avoid defensiveness.

    • Example: “What’s the reason for adding custom logic here instead of using a library?” is better than “Why did you decide to add custom logic here instead of using a library?”
  • Empathizing words > prescriptive words

    • Check how certain you appear in your statement.
    • Use words like “consider”, “might”, and “could” instead of words like “must”, “have to”, and “should”


All these are suggestions, and it's okay to be not strict about something unless you think it will create some serious issues down the line.

Happy Reviewing ! ❤️


Published:June 2, 2024

Updated:June 2, 2024

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