How to Perform an Efficient Code Review for Android

If you want to improve the quality of your code and save time for your Android app, then it’s important to conduct a code review. However, your code review has to be thorough for it to be effective.

While every company has its own take on what’s most important to review, there are some key elements to take into account if you want your code review to be efficient. Here are a few to consider:

1. Make Sure It Doesn’t Break What’s Already Working

The code that’s being introduced shouldn’t disrupt or ruin any other existing code. This is essential to keep your application running without any errors. So, it’s important to look for exceptions that tend to break the application as it’s running, such as NullPointerExceptions.

Running into this type of Runtime Exception is common. It happens when developers attempt to run methods on instantiated objects. It’s important to search for these types of errors and to look deep into the backend as some of these exceptions are hidden in the architecture of the design. If the code isn’t as efficient as it could be, look for better ways to write the code.

2. Check for Code Standard Compliance

The quality of your code can impact how well your Android app functions, and it also can leave room for vulnerabilities that can easily be exploited. Thus, it’s important to check for code standard compliance when reviewing code for Android.

Some best practices to implement when checking for code standard include setting goals to capture specific metrics and using a compliance checklist.

For example, ensure the Android developers you hire have annotated the source code before conducting the review. This helps to streamline the review process and save time, so you know which file to review and in which order.

You can also implement automation to verify compliance goals are being met. These should include meaningful metrics that can help you quickly identify compliance issues.

Once you identify compliance issues, you can easily provide valuable feedback to the developer, such as the rate of defects or bugs found and the average errors found per code line.

The conditions of the code also help you reveal logic errors. So, it’s vital to review code conditions as you check for code compliance.

Additionally, ensure the layouts are simplified by noting the used nested views. Also, consider the number of views the developer uses. The goal is to ensure the layout remains simple while maintaining the design.

3. Reuse Code

When you reuse code, you can reduce and even eliminate new crashes while in production. Reusing code also helps simplify the coding for the app. Reusing code can also prove helpful in circumventing hacking incidents.

In fact, a study conducted by the Singapore Management University found that code reuse techniques, such as return-oriented programming, are effective in deterring reverse engineering tactics hackers use to repackage Android apps with malicious code.

4. Set Time Limits

The time it takes you to complete the code review should not take any more than 30 minutes to one hour. To use your time efficiently, it’s best to limit the number of code lines you are reviewing.

A study by Cisco indicated that app development companies should aim to review no more than 200 to 400 lines of code. By streamlining the process and limiting the number of code you review, you can better capture errors and effectively use your time.

5. Implement Localization

If you have a global audience, you want your Android application to function in multiple languages. So, it’s crucial to conduct pull requests and verify the supported languages used within the app.

Without getting this done, the code may not be readable to the audience you’re trying to reach.

6. Review Code Style

The style of code is essential as it ensures the code is uniform and clean. Check to ensure that the adopted code style is being followed. One best practice is to use Android’s Java Code Style for the Android platform.

You should check to ensure that rules are being met, including ensuring that exceptions aren’t being ignored or that finalizers aren’t being used. For example, RuntimeExceptions should be used to catch exceptions to avoid errors and possible crashes.

Also, you can avoid catching exceptions that are generic. Instead, these exceptions can be rethrown, or the code can be refactored. Also, if you’re not going to perform any different behavior based on each exception type, then consider throwing a generic exception.

However, there are certain scenarios where catching generic exceptions are acceptable, such as in the case of determining thrown exception types.

Keep in mind that developers aren’t always aware of the type of exceptions that might get thrown. So, it’s also safe to catch generic exceptions in this case.

7. Recommend Changes

The point of the code review is to improve the quality of the code used for the Android-based app. But without providing useful suggestions for making changes, the code review can be done in vain.

Whenever you’re providing recommendations, make sure they are thorough and clear. Explain each line of code or error that requires adjustments. By taking the time to provide effective feedback, your developers can make changes that can enhance the quality of the code.