Ask Jason: Should we use a "Review Pool," and how do we implement it?

Smart Bear founder Jason Cohen literally wrote the book on code reviews. So if you have any questions about code review, Smart Bear, or Code Collaborator, email Jason. Your question may be answered in a future blog entry.

When you start a review you don't always know -- or care -- who the reviewer should be.  There might be five people who are qualified to do the review, but you don't know their schedules.  Are they stuck in meetings all day?  Who is already assigned to four other reviews?  Who is under a deadline and can't do a review right now?  Who has lots of free time and would like nothing more than to review your code?



OK maybe that last one.  Still, it would be nice to be able to assign a review to a set of people -- a "review pool" -- with the idea that one of them will actually do the review.



But how do you do that with Code Collaborator, and what are the pitfalls of this technique?



Start by setting up a review pool user account.  This is just a regular user account, except the email address is a list of email addresses of everyone in the pool.  (Or, set up an email alias on your mail server for the same effect but a different point of control.)



Then, when you've created a review, assign the review pool user as the reviewer.  When the review starts, everyone in the pool will get the email.



To "take" a review as one of the reviewers, open the review and click the "Edit" button in the "Participants" toolbar.  Just replace the pool user with your own name.  Or, leave the pool user in and add your name; this is good if you want to keep the audit trail of which review pool this review was originally assigned to.



Of course you can create as many review pool users as you need for different groups and purposes.



Enjoy!



P.S. Before you ask, pool users will not count against your purchased licenses because these users never log in.  You can enforce this by configuring some horrible, random password for that account that no one -- not even you -- would guess.



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