Request a code review

CodeStream’s code review functionality is currently only available in our extensions for VS Code and JetBrains.

Traditional code review happens at the end of the development cycle, when you’re looking to get the changes merged. Not only are end-of-cycle code reviews much more burdensome on your teammates, but you also run the risk of identifying issues so late in the game that you end up having to decide between blowing up your schedule or taking on technical debt.

CodeStream’s code reviews take all of the friction out of both requesting a review and performing a review, with the hope that you’ll do them frequently during the course of the development cycle.

Request a code review at any point during the development cycle, whether you’d like feedback on stubbed out functions, mid-way through a work in progress, or a final review of a finished project. Requesting a review happens in the IDE, with one command, and CodeStream handles the complexity of sharing your current status including pushed commits, local commits, staged and saved changes. Code reviews are also performed in the IDE and do not require switching branches, or pulling changes.

CodeStream code reviews are simpler because they can be initiated with one command, and don’t require that code be committed and pushed. They are more powerful because you can review code in any state: whether finished or still a WIP. And they are easier to perform because they don’t require a mix of different tools (email, web browser and IDE), and give you access to your favorite keybindings and commands in your editor.

By the time you get to that formal code review/pull request at the end of the development cycle, it’s far less painful and more of a formality because issues have been raised, discussed and resolved all along the way. Learn more about shift-left code reviews.

Requesting a Review

Request a review at any time, regardless of the current state of your work, by clicking on the "Request Review" button on the Tasks tab. You can also use the blue "+" button that persists at the bottom-right of the CodeStream pane or a keyboard shortcut (ctlr+shift+/ r, or ctrl+/ r on a Mac).

Request a Review

CodeStream assumes that you are requesting a review based on the repo/branch of the file currently selected in your editor. If you have multiple repositories open in your IDE at the same time, you can change this via the repo dropdown at the very top of the form.

Depending on your team's settings, CodeStream may suggest some reviewers. Based on the commit history of the code being changed, the suggestions may even include someone that isn't yet on your team (in which case they'd be notified via email). Hover of a reviewer’s name to see more details or to remove them. If multiple reviewers are assigned you may also have the option to determine whether any of them can approve the review, or if each one has to approve it individually.

Suggested Reviewers

The Changed Files section lists all of the files that have been added, removed or modified. You can even click on any file to view a diff just as the assigned reviewer(s) will see it.

Changed Files

If you have a file that’s not suitable for code review, such as a checked-in binary file, you can hover over any file and click the X to exclude that file from the review. That file will be moved to a list below the review form. Note that new files are, by default, excluded from the review, but you can hover over their entry in the list and click "+" to add them into the review.

Excluded Files

Hover over an excluded file and click on the trashcan to permanently exclude it from all future reviews. Permanently excluding files creates a .codestreamignore file in the repository. If you think your teammates will also want to exclude these files (e.g., a package-lock.json or other system-generated file), you can commit and push the file so that they can make use of it as well.

The changes represented across the selected files are broken out into four different categories, allowing you to select exactly what you would like to include in the review:

  • Saved Changes
  • Staged Changes
  • Local Commits
  • Pushed Commits

Unlike any other code review services, CodeStream allows you to have uncommitted code reviewed by a teammate, with no need to commit, push or issue a PR.

Note that commits are listed in descending order across the Local Commits and Pushed Commits sections, and unchecking the box for a commit will automatically uncheck the boxes for all preceding commits. In other words, the commits included in the review must be consecutive. Only your commits are checked by default, but if you can include any of them in your review. (Tip: Make sure the email address in your git configuration matches your CodeStream email address.)

Lastly, you can optionally share the code review out to either Slack or MS Teams.

Discovery / Notifications

When you submit your code review, teammates will be notified via the activity feed, with anyone assigned as a reviewer being @mentioned so that they’ll also receive an email notification.

Review in Activity Feed

As with codemarks, notifications for code reviews are based on whether or not you follow the review. By default you automatically follow code reviews that you have created, where you are a reviewer or have been mentioned, or that you have replied to. You can follow/unfollow individual reviews via the review’s ellipses menu, or by clicking the unfollow link in an email notification.

Teammates may also be notified via Slack or MS Teams if you elected to share to either of those messaging platforms. The Slack integration also allows your teammates to reply to the review directly from Slack.

If you want to get an overview of all of the team’s code review activity, head over to the Filter & Search tab. By default, any open code reviewers where you are an assigned reviewer will be displayed in an “Open & Assigned to Me” section.

Review Search

There are some additional filters related to code reviews:

  • All Open Issues and Code Reviews - Everything the team has outstanding.
  • Your Code Reviews - All code reviews you have requested.
  • Everything impacting code you wrote - All code reviews that include changes to code that you wrote.
  • Custom filters - Use advanced search syntax to create, and optionally save, your own filters based on review status, author, assignee, etc.

Performing a Review

As if being able to request a code review right from inside your IDE wasn’t awesome enough, your teammates can do the actual review from their IDEs as well! And there’s no need for your teammates to switch branches or pull changes. As long as they have the appropriate repo open in the IDE, they can simply click on the review, from either the activity feed or the filter & search tab, and start reviewing the changes.

Reviewing Changes

Click on any file in the Changed Files section to review the changes. You’ll be presented with a diff in your editor, and you can step through the changes in the file using the up and down arrows provided by your IDE at the top of the editor. Note that for JetBrains IDEs, CodeStream doesn't currently support the "Unified viewer" for diffs. Just the "Side-by-side viewer".

Navigate Changes

Typically, the diff will represent the changes in the branch associated with the review (i.e., usually a feature/topic branch) against the base branch, at the point at which the feature branch was created. Note that with CodeStream diffs this may not always be the case since the author of the review may not have included all of their changes in the review. As a result, the version of the files that the changes are being diff’ed against may, in fact, also include changes that aren’t in the base branch. This is important in order to provide continuity.

Comments & Change Requests

If you have a general comment about the review / changes, just add a reply to the review’s thread.

Reply to a Review

But if you want to comment on the actual changes, just hover up and down the gutter at the left side of the CodeStream pane and then click on the comment button that appears to the right. You can also select a block of code from the right side of the diff, and then either click on the comment button or use a keyboard shortcut (ctlr+shift+/ c, or ctrl+/ c on a Mac).

Comment on Changes

Since you have the full file context when doing a review, you aren’t limited to commenting on just the lines of code that changed. For example, you might notice another part of the file that needs work as well, or that you simply want to reference.

Whether it’s a general comment or a comment on code, you can mark it a “change request” to let the author know that it’s required before you’ll approve the changes.

While you are performing a review, you can even comment on files that are not part of the review, and they will get added as a reply to the review. This is helpful to be able to point your teammate to another location in the codebase that might be an example of a better way to do something.

Request a Change

All of the change requests associated with the review are summarized in a section at the top of the review, in addition to being part of the review’s discussion thread. This is where they will get marked complete when the work is done.

Change Requests

Look for the green and red buttons at the top of the review to either approve or reject it, and click Exit to leave the review. Note that if there are any open change requests, the approve button will be replaced by a blue button that indicates the number. You can still approve the review but we wanted to make sure you were aware of the outstanding work.

Outstanding Change Requests

When there are multiple reviewers, and approval is required from each, CodeStream makes it very clear when there are still outstanding approvals. The blue button at the top-right indicates how many approvals are outstanding, and the green “thumbs up” on the headshots of reviewers indicates those that have already approved.

Outstanding Approvals

Amending a Review

A typical code review workflow involves the reviewer leaving some comments or suggesting some changes, and then the developer responding to that feedback with more changes to the code. To continue the process you can amend the review to add your changes. Just look for the blue "+" at the top of the review.

Amend Review

Amending a review is very similar to requesting the initial review in that you can choose from your saved and stages changes, and your local and pushed commits, to include in the update. Any open change requests are listed as well so that you can mark off any that are addressed by the update.

Amend Review Form

When the reviewer goes back into the review, by default they’ll be looking at the complete change set (i.e., changes across all updates) as they go through the diffs for each file. They can, however, elect to view the diffs specific to any individual update.

Amend Review Form

This process can continue across as many updates as needed to get to the ultimate approval of the review.