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Webinar: Upgrade Your Team's Code Review Experience with Review Board

Hello, everyone! Christian Hammond here, one of the founders of Review Board and Beanbag.

We have a webinar coming up on Upgrading Your Team's Code Review Experience using Review Board, hosted by Bitnami. We'll be going over the importance and benefits of code review, how Review Board can help save you time and sanity during the code and document review process (did you know that you can review documents and images?), and we'll talk about some of the upcoming features of Review Board 3.0 that you're going to like.

There will also be a demo followed by a Q&A. This is a great opportunity to ask us anything you might want to know about Review Board.

The webinar starts on July 12th at 9AM PST (4PM UTC). Join us! You can register for the webinar if you want to attend or see the recording once it's over. If you have teammates, managers, or friends who might be interested, please forward this along to them and ask them to register as well. It helps us to have a good head count.

Hope to see you there!

— Christian

Happy 10th Birthday, Review Board!

Happy Birthday!

10 years ago, David Trowbridge and I (Christian Hammond) began talking about the problems and annoyances with code review, and how it could be better. Code review at the time was (usually) a very tedious process where you'd e-mail diff files around and reply to them, and while there were a couple of tools on the market, they were expensive and cumbersome.

So on September 27, 2006, ten years ago today, we landed our first commit.

r1 | chipx86 | 2006-09-27 00:25:53 -0700 (Wed, 27 Sep 2006) | 2 lines

    Add the reviewboard.

Where we were back then

Back in 2006, there was no GitHub or Bitbucket. Git was just around a year old. Subversion and Google Code were the tools choice of most open source projects. Many companies performed code reviews on whiteboards or projectors.

And people still e-mailed diffs around.

We just knew things could be better, so we began writing Review Board. We didn't know if it'd be a short-lived toy project, our new excuse for staying up all night coding, or if it could truly be more. It started off as just an experiment in improving how code review could be made better, could evolve, to make lives easier for developers.

The experiment was a success.

Pre-1.0 Dashboard

(We've come a long way since.)

Where we are today

Fast forward 10 years (!) and we have a product that we're proud to call our day job, a product that thousands of companies depend on every day. Hundreds of thousands of developers.

Over the years we've learned what works and what doesn't. We've greatly enhanced our code review capabilities, added support for many more types of code hosting services, wrote a powerful and comprehensive extension infrastructure and API, and helped change the world of code review for the better.

Our core team has expanded. We've put out 142 releases of Review Board alone (that's over 14 a year!), built a Review Board SaaS (RBCommons), added new enterprise-level features through Power Pack, and established support contracts with companies to help them through the good times and bad.

There are many code review tools on the market these days, and we're so glad to see that most developers no longer have to live in the dark ages of e-mailing diffs and projecting code up on walls. Throughout it all, Review Board has remained a strong, powerful, and beloved tool for so many, and we couldn't be happier.

Our users have been truly great. One company 3D printed Sparkly and Fish Trophies for us. Someone once wrote a poem for us ("Ode to Review Board"). We've been invited to give talks at big tech companies. We've mentored over 100 students as part of UCOSP and Open Academy, using Review Board development to help them prepare for their careers as software engineers.

3D Fish Trophy!

It's been an amazing ride, and we're nowhere close to done.

Where we're going

We have several very exciting features in the works to bring your code quality to a new level. Our focus right now is on Review Board 3.0, which is bringing:

  • A new and improved (but still familiar!) review experience
  • Support for integrating with third-party services (like Slack, Asana, and more), allowing for as many distinct integration configurations as you need
  • Built-in support for showing and handling feedback from automated code review services
  • Improved search results and on-the-fly indexing, with support for Elasticsearch
  • OAuth2 provider support
  • Custom avatar services
  • And much, much, much more

Automated Review

It's going to be a fantastic release. RBCommons users will get to see some of this soon!

In parallel, we've also been working on features for Review Board 4.0. The big highlight (and the feature being worked on now) is DVCS support, featuring some really useful takes on multi-commit review. We have some other great features planned, but aren't ready to announce them yet.

We've had an amazing 10 years, watching our little experiment grow and make a difference to customers around the world. We can't wait to see what the next 10 years have in store.

Happy birthday, Review Board!

Plans for Review Board's bug tracker

Many of you may have heard that Google Code is going read-only starting tomorrow, and some have asked us how this will affect the project, since we host our bug tracker there.

Not to worry. Google's been nice enough to whitelist us for a little while, so even though most of Google Code will be down, we'll continue to be up. This is not permanent, but for the time-being, you'll still be able to report bugs at the old address.

Going forward, we'll be migrating off of Google Code and onto a new tracker. That will happen in the coming weeks, and we'll talk more about it when it happens.

So why the delay? Why did Google need to extend the shutdown date for us? We actually have something new on the way that we're pretty excited about. We call it Splat, and while still very young, it's shaping up to a pretty cool bug/issue tracker. We weren't quite prepared to switch over to it by the shutdown date, but we have enough of it ready to launch pretty soon.

There's a lot more that I'd like to say about Splat, but there will be time for that. We'll make a more formal announcement soon.

Using Review Board with Amazon CodeCommit

Today, Amazon released their all-new CodeCommit service as part of the Amazon Web Services family. CodeCommit is a Git repository hosting service built for scalability and reliability, helping to securely store encrypted versions of your code, binaries, and configuration related to your products and cloud infrastructure.

They've put together a guide on integrating AWS CodeCommit with Review Board that you can follow if you're wanting to give this service a try. It'll walk you through deploying a Review Board server, setting up access to CodeCommit, linking your repository, and posting changes for review.

Currently, setup requires maintaining an in-sync clone of your repository on the Review Board server. We're aiming to work with the CodeCommit team to help bring direct support for hosted CodeCommit repositories to a future release of Review Board and RBCommons.

For more information on getting set up, check out the CodeCommit page and read our guides on configuring Git repositories and our recommended RBTools workflows for Git.

Review Board 2.0.3 and the all-new Package Store

We have two exciting announcements for you today!

Review Board 2.0.3

The first, which you've already guessed, is a brand-new Review Board release. In 2.0.3, you'll find a number of long-requested bug fixes, and some new features.

The highlights include:

  • Empty files can now be posted for review.
  • Users can now log in with their e-mail addresses instead of their usernames.
  • Long, unbreakable lines in the diff viewer now wrap properly in all cases.
  • GitLab v6.8+ servers with over 100 repositories now work.
  • Far more useful sample crontab files, which are now auto-generated when upgrading your site.
  • Counters in the dashboard should finally be fixed!
  • Interdiffs are more reliable.
  • Lots of Unicode-related bug fixes for diffs and Subversion have been squashed.

All-in-all, there are 23 bugs fixed in this release, and a few more new features we didn't even mention.

See the release notes for the full details.

Oh, and it also links to the new Package Store. And that brings us to:

The Review Board Package Store!

Today, we're happy to introduce the all-new Review Board Package Store, the new home for extensions and software that work with Review Board.

Administrators and end-users can browse the store for software to see what's out there to improve their Review Board experience.

Developers can post what they've made, show it off with screenshots, and let users know what's new with new release announcements.

The store is brand new, so we only have a few things up there right now. If you're a developer writing software that integrates with Review Board on any level, we'd like to encourage you to add it to the store.

We welcome any feedback on the new store. Bug reports, category suggestions, new features, or anything else that would make your life easier.

Power Pack Reports for Review Board Beta Program

Earlier this year, we were proud to release our first commercial extension to Review Board, Power Pack. For the first time, documentation writers and developer teams could post and review PDF documents right from Review Board, without learning any new tools. Companies could bring GitHub Enterprise in-house without switching back to pull requests. Administrators could create a better experience by more easily scaling out across servers.

Since then, we’ve been working to improve Power Pack, listening to your requests and suggestions. Today, we’re happy to announce the beta program for our newest, most highly-requested feature: Power Pack Reports.

Power Pack Reports

Get insight into your code reviews

Teams of all sizes can benefit from analyzing and measuring the effectiveness of code review amongst their developers. Better insight leads to better, more cost-effective processes and policies. To help with this, we're adding five different ways of looking at your code review process:

  • Time to First Feedback

    This helpful graph shows how long, on average, it takes for new changes to be reviewed. See where the bottlenecks are in your team.

  • Time to Close

    Some code reviews hang on for far too long, delaying releases. See how often this is happening, and where.

  • Review Request Statistics

    A quick at-a-glance table showing statistics on how frequently team members post review requests, how many issues they typically have filed against them, and how many of those are dropped instead of fixed.

  • Code Review Statistics

    More detailed metrics on the actual code reviews performed within the team. See who on your team are more actively reviewing code, how many issues they tend to find, and how frequently they mark Ship It! You'll have a better sense of who is really engaged in the code review process.

  • Code Review Relationships

    This eye-catching diagram shows who's more actively reviewing who's code. It provides a great way of quickly seeing which parts of your team are working closely together, and who's not pulling their weight.

Try it out!

We have a lot of ideas in the works for this feature, but we want to get your feedback on the direction we're going.

If you think reporting would benefit your team, we'd love to have you as part of our beta! Your feedback will help to ensure this becomes an indispensable part of your code review process.

Please fill out our sign-up form to get started. We'll e-mail you as soon as the beta is ready.

Our UCOSP 2013 and Open Academy 2014 Student Teams

We thought it was long past time to show off some of the excellent work our UCOSP Fall 2013 students have been doing, and introduce you all to our Open Academy Spring 2014 students.

UCOSP Fall 2013

In Fall of 2013, we had a batch of great students from across Canada: Elaine, Natasha, Edward, Behzad, and Alissa. We met up at Mozilla in Toronto and got everyone set up. From there, they flew through the semester, adding some great improvements to Review Board.

  • Elaine wrote an extension for effectively using checklists for code review.

  • Natasha put together an experimental project for auto-suggesting reviewers on new review requests based on the files that were modified, in order to target those people who may know the code best. We're hoping to optimize this (some database changes may be needed on our end) and get it into a future release.

  • Edward rewrote our search support for 2.0 to use Haystack, which is a lot easier to set up than PyLucene.

    He also improved RBTools by adding rbt setup-repo, adding the --commit option to rbt patch, and adding the --update option to rbt post. These are all part of the latest RBTools releases.

  • Behzad did a bunch of work to get our new trophy system in place. We still have some work to do to integrate it, which we're hoping to do after 2.0, but the end result will allow for new types of trophies, a trophy case to see which trophies you've collected, and extension support.

  • Alissa added a new page in the Administration UI for doing a security screening of the site. It can help highlight known configuration issues on the server that need to be addressed to keep things secure. This is going into 2.0.

We put a little demo video together with our Winter team showing off all their work. Check it out!

It was a fantastic team, and we're very thankful for all the great work they've done!

Open Academy Spring 2014

We participated in Open Academy this year for the second time, and were once again privileged to have another fantastic group of students, spanning schools across the globe. This semester, we have Anselina, Bhushan, Edwin, Iines, Joonas, Mirai, Olessia, Stephanie, Tami, and Tomi working with us.

We met up at Facebook HQ in February for a fun and intense weekend of hacking. There, we got to know each other, ate some donuts, figured out projects for the semester, went bowling, and got to hacking.

Open Academy 2014 students

(Here are some more photos of the event, taken by Tami herself!)

They're all well into their projects at this point. There's a lot of great stuff coming:

  • Anselina and Bhushan are working to add official support for pre-commit and post-commit hooks for Git, Mercurial, Subversion, GitHub, and other services.

    These will be able to close out review requests when the commits are pushed, and enforce approval before pushing changes.

  • Edwin is making the contextual diff fragments in reviews a bit nicer by allowing you to expand them to get a better idea of where the comments were made without having to jump into the diff viewer.

  • Iines is working on making it easier to link to specific lines in the diff viewer.

  • Joonas and Mirai are performing some usability research and development on improving our mobile experience.

  • Olessia is expanding our support for hosting services. She's adding Review Board 2.0's post-commit support for more hosting services, and providing a lot of the base work needed to revamp the repository configuration experience.

  • Stephanie is making the widgets in the Administration UI reorderable, and allowing admins to add and remove widgets. She'll also be adding extension support for custom admin widgets!

  • Tami is improving the user page to be more flexible. It will be updated to let you see all the reviews made by that user.

  • Tomi is adding deeper support for bug trackers. With this work, it'll be possible to update bug reports when the status of review requests change, and to show information on a bug when mousing over a bug number.

They've been making great progress so far! They also all have work going into Review Board 2.0 or RBTools 0.6. Not a bad start!

Here's a few of our students to tell you about their experience at the sprint at Facebook:

Here's to another exciting semester!

Review Board Power Pack Release Candidate

Updated 30-October-2013, 12:05PM PST: Fixed the minimum Review Board version required. You'll need 1.7.14 or higher.

We're pleased to announce a release candidate for the Review Board Power Pack. While previous beta releases have been limited to people who signed up for our beta program, his release candidate is public, and anyone who is using Review Board is welcome to try it out.

The Review Board Power Pack is a set of advanced features to help you get even more out of your peer review system. If you'd like to check out what's included, see the Power Pack page.

Installing and activating the Power Pack

If you're running a previous beta of the Power Pack, you should have received an email with detailed instructions on how to upgrade. If you're a new user, use the following instructions.

To get started, make sure you have Review Board 1.7.14 or newer installed. Then install the Review Board Power Pack by running:

easy_install -f http://downloads.beanbaginc.com/powerpack/ -U ReviewBoardPowerPack

Once that's installed, reload your web server, then browse to your administration interface and click "Extensions." You should see a single extension. Click "Enable" to activate it.

Once the extension is activated, you need to install a license. We've created a trial license which will keep things going until January 1, 2014. You can download this license at http://downloads.beanbaginc.com/powerpack/powerpack-trial.lic

Once you have the license file, click "Configure" on the extension. You should see a field where you can upload the license file to your Review Board server. Once you do this and save, you should see a trial license installed, and the Power Pack features will be enabled.

Using the Power Pack

Any PDF files that are attached to a review request (with "Upload File") will then have a "Review" button which will take you to a document viewer. To add comments, simple drag across a region of a page like you would with an image attachment.

To add GitHub enterprise repositories, go to the "Add Repository" section in the admin interface. You should now see a new hosting service called "GitHub Enterprise". Configuration works just like GitHub.com, but you'll put your GitHub Enterprise server name in the form.

Setting up multiple front-end servers is a complex task, and we're working on some documentation about it. In the meantime, if you're planning on using the Power Pack for this, get in touch and we'll help you out.

We'd like to hear your feedback, good and bad. If there are any features that would be important to your organization, please let us know that too.

For any questions or comments, you can reach us at any time at support@beanbaginc.com.

The Awesome UCOSP Winter 2013 Review Board Team

We're up in Toronto today for the final day of the UCOSP Winter 2013 Sprint. Through UCOSP, we get to meet and work with bright and enthusiastic students pursuing careers in the software industry for a whole semester. Our students work on Review Board, building cool projects and getting a feel for what it's like in the industry. It's pretty awesome.

This semester, we have five new students: Allisa, Behzad, Edward, Elaine, and Natasha.

Allisa got into development at age 13 when she started writing custom maps for Neverwinter Nights. Now she's making it easy to do a security check of your Review Board installation to make sure you're safe from known configuration-related vulnerabilities.

Behzad got his start writing and modifying scripts for mIRC when he was 11. For this term, he's making our hidden trophy support less hidden by giving you a nice trophy case on your user page, showing every trophy you've earned. It'll even support the development of new types of trophies, even under extensions. (One may make the association between fish slaps and fish trophies?)

Edward's background was in systems engineering, until he found .NET and fell in love with programming. That led him toward going back for a CS degree. He's now taking a role on RBTools, adding some nice improvements. This includes extending 'rb patch' to be able to commit under the contributor's name (useful for open source projects) and adding a command to guide the setup of a new source tree.

Elaine used to want to be a writer, but found she liked writing code more than stories. She's working on an extension to help out when using checklists for code review.

Natasha got into CS after her first programming class in high school, because it fed her love of puzzles and problem solving. It also goes well with her coffee addiction. Her project's goal is to automatically suggest reviewers based on who has reviewed similar code in the past.

We were also joined by a former student yesterday, Yazan, who fixed a bug for us, and just generally hung around helping out.

UCOSP is a fantastic program, and we look forward to it every semester. We're super lucky to get such great students, and I'm really excited to see how far this new team will take the project.

Special thanks to Steven MacLeod and Mike Conley, our wonderful co-mentors who help make this happen every semester; UCOSP, who provide the opportunity for us to participate and meet such great students; and Mozilla, who provided the space for the sprint.

Students in Action
New Beta Release: Review Board Power Pack

Until now, we've been running two separate beta programs for PDF Review and "Review Board Enterprise". We've decided to merge these together into a single product that we're calling the "Review Board Power Pack."

The major features of the combined package are:

  • Review PDF documents that are attached to review requests, commenting directly on the text, all in the browser with no extra plug-ins.
  • GitHub Enterprise support.
  • The ability to add capacity to your Review Board server by adding additional front-end servers.

Changes in the new preview

In addition to merging together the features of our two previous beta packages, there are some improvements and bug fixes for PDF Review in this release:

  • The outline mode in the sidebar now shows the tree structure of the table of contents.
  • When a document has a table of contents, the sidebar now allows switching between either the outline mode or the pages mode.
  • Scrolling behavior when using the mouse wheel or touch-pad gestures has improved significantly, making it easier to get all the way to the bottom of the document.
  • Non-PDF documents like .docx are no longer detected as PDF.
  • When attaching a PDF file with drag-and-drop, you can now click on the thumbnail to jump to the review UI to preview the document.
  • Several issues with PDF rendering have been fixed.
  • A fair amount of visual design polish.

pdf

Getting the Power Pack

If you already signed up for the beta, you should have an email explaining how to install it (or upgrade from the first beta). If you haven’t signed up, but would like to participate, please fill out our sign-up form and we’ll be in touch.

Once we have a final release, these features will be available on RBCommons.com for our larger tiers.

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