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Peer Reviews in Software: A Practical Guide

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Karl E. Wiegers

Peer review works: it leads to better software. But implementing peer review can be challenging -- for technical, political, social, cultural, and psychological reasons. In this book, best-selling software engineering author Karl Wiegers presents succinct, … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Karl E. Wiegers
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
1 review about Peer Reviews in Software: A Practical Guide

Essential reading for any software development team

  • Mar 22, 2002
Rating:
+5
Every developer I have known has experienced the phenomena of spending an inordinate amount of time searching for a bug only to have a colleague look at the code and find it almost immediately. Study after study has indicated that the worst review process for software is self-criticism and the best is to have other coders take a good look at it. Therefore, it is logical that a formal process for developers reviewing each others code be implemented. The problem is that the former is informal, making it "off the books" and not subject to review by decision makers. Being human, developers react differently when their livelihood is potentially at stake, which can cause problems and prevent adequate reviews of the code.
Creating a stable, scalable and structured peer review system is not something that can be done by fiat or in a short time. It requires clear managerial direction that inspires confidence and builds a sense of security for both the evaluator and evaluated. Creating such an environment is the key and that is the main point of value in this book.
Wiegers lays out in great detail how to create a culture where all involved are peers in the real sense. It is absolutely necessary that everyone in the review process understand that creating quality software is the only thing that matters. Therefore, posturing, ego tripping, ego inflating, ego protection and all related activities must be suppressed. These are the most difficult tasks for professional humans to engage in, and it requires a combination of carrying a big stick to move the process as well as a soft pillow for the necessary falls from perfection. Wiegers shows you how to do this with the skill of a counselor.
In my reading of the trade press, the recent rise in the concern for computer security has led to a great deal of coverage about errors in software. Responding to this pressure, Bill Gates has sent out a public memo noting that quality is now the number one priority at Microsoft. The best way to achieve this quality is to have an effective peer review process and in this book you can learn how to do that. In the new world order of software, your very survival may be at stake, so your plan of action should include a rendezvous with this book.

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