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Pull Requests

A Checklist

  1. PR Title:
    • Is it escriptive enough that someone familiar with the project can understand it at first glance?
    • Is it short enough to be readable at a glance? (For example, don’t try to put the entire “As an X I can Y so that Z” story into the title field.)
  2. Linked to an Issue?
    • You can link to an issue with certain magic words such as Closes #15, Fixes #27
    • But if you don’t phrase it just right, the link doesn’t happen.
    • In that case, use the manual feature for linking to an issue (see below)
  3. Linked Issue is in the “In Review” column on team’s Kanban board.
  4. PR is tagged with the Team’s tag, like this one: image
  5. Test cases all pass.
    • If you have difficulty with this one, ask for help from a team member first.
    • Then ask for help on the Slack help channel associated with the project, e.g. #proj-ucsb-courses-search, #proj-ucsb-cs-las, #proj-mapache-search on the slack.
    • Then ask for help during staff office hours or during lecture/discussion work time.
  6. You have requested (and gotten) a code review from a fellow team members.
  7. You have requested (and gotten) a code review from a member of staff (i.e. an LA, TA, or the instructor)
    • Please consult the page with team assignments (e.g. for W21 that’s here: ) to see which LA and TA are assigned to your team.
    • Request those members of staff first; however anyone on staff can review your PR.
  8. Address all concerns brought up in the code review. This doesn’t mean that you have to do exactly as the code reviewer says, but it does mean that you can’t just ignore what they suggest. Acceptable ways of resolving a code review concern include:
    • Doing what the code reviewer asks
    • Presenting a good case why you are not going to do that (e.g. “that’s a good point, but let’s do that in a different issue”, or “I see the situation differently; here’s my point of view; let’s discuss.”)
  9. Address any merge conflicts that exist between your feature branch and the then current main branch. You may need to “rebase” your branch on main.
  10. Is it still a “draft PR”? If so, you need to convert it to a regular PR before it can be merged.

Keeping PRs small and focused

It’s good to avoid PRs that have changes to many files in them; fewer than 10 files is ideal. Especially true if the files span both front and backend.

Sometimes though, it’s unavoidable. In that case, a guide to the changes, as shown in this PR description, can be really helpful to your code reviewers:

Linking a PR to an issue

You can link to an issue automatically with certain magic words such as Closes #15, Fixes #27.

But if that doesn’t work, here’s how to do it manually:


Doing a Code Review

Many companies use “branch protection” rules in GitHub for their main branch (or master branch, if using the older convention).

Rules may include the number of code reviews that must be done. In our case, we are requiring two code reviews, one from the team, and one from a member of staff.

For these code reviews to “count”, i.e. to make the PR mergeable, the code review needs to be done with the right set of mouse clicks in GitHub. (It isn’t enough, for example, to just put a “comment” LGTM (“Looks Good To Me”); that comment has to be done as an approving code review.

Here’s what that looks like.


What to look for in a Code Review?

Students often ask what they should look for in a code review.

In general, you are looking for any opportunities to make the code better, and/or to find things the developer may have missed. It should be approached in a spirit of “helpful suggestions”.

  1. It can be helpful to test the code on your team’s Heroku deployment at the same time you are reviewing the code.
  2. It’s good to look for any “commented out code” that the developer may have left in the code while they were debugging, and suggest that it be removed.
  3. It’s helpful to look for opportunities to make the code “DRYer”, i.e. to follow the rule “Don’t Repeat Yourself”. Is there copy/pasted code that could be factored out into a common function or method?
  4. It’s helpful to look for opportunities to improve naming. Are the variables names, class names, and method names chosen meaningful and helpful to others reading the code?

These are just a few examples to give the idea of the kinds of things you can be looking for.