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In software development,
peer review Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant field Field may r ...
is a type of
software review A software review is "A process or meeting during which a software product is examined by a project personnel, managers, users, customers, user representatives, or other interested parties for comment or approval".IEEE Std . 1028-1997, "IEEE Standar ...
in which a work product (document, code, or other) is examined by author's colleagues, in order to evaluate the work product's technical content and quality.


Purpose

The purpose of a peer review is to provide "a disciplined engineering practice for detecting and correcting defects in software artifacts, and preventing their leakage into field operations" according to the
Capability Maturity ModelThe Capability Maturity Model (CMM) is a development model created in 1986 after a study of data collected from organizations that contracted with the U.S. Department of Defense, who funded the research. The term "maturity" relates to the degree of ...

Capability Maturity Model
. When performed as part of each
Software development process In software engineering Software engineering is the systematic application of engineering approaches to the software development, development of software. A software engineer is a person who applies the principles of software engineering to d ...

Software development process
activity, peer reviews identify problems that can be fixed early in the lifecycle. That is to say, a peer review that identifies a requirements problem during the
Requirements analysis In systems engineering and software engineering, requirements analysis focuses on the tasks that determine the needs or conditions to meet the new or altered product or project, taking account of the possibly conflicting requirements of the v ...
activity is cheaper and easier to fix than during the
Software architecture Software architecture refers to the fundamental structures of a software system and the discipline of creating such structures and systems. Each structure comprises software elements, relations among them, and properties of both elements and relat ...
or
Software testing #REDIRECT Software testing#REDIRECT Software testing Software testing is an investigation conducted to provide stakeholders with information about the quality of the software product or service under test. Software testing can also provide an ob ...
activities. The National Software Quality Experiment, evaluating the effectiveness of peer reviews, finds, "a favorable return on investment for software inspections; savings exceeds costs by 4 to 1". To state it another way, it is four times more costly, on average, to identify and fix a software problem later.


Distinction from other types of software review

Peer reviews are distinct from management reviews, which are conducted by management representatives rather than by colleagues, and for management and control purposes rather than for technical evaluation. They are also distinct from software audit reviews, which are conducted by personnel external to the project, to evaluate compliance with specifications, standards, contractual agreements, or other criteria.


Review processes

Peer review processes exist across a spectrum of formality, with relatively unstructured activities such as "buddy checking" towards one end of the spectrum, and more Informal approaches such as walkthroughs, technical peer reviews, and
software inspection Inspection in software engineering Software engineering is the systematic application of engineering approaches to the software development, development of software. A software engineer is a person who applies the principles of software engineer ...
s, at the other. The
IEEE The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is a professional association for electronic engineering and electrical engineering (and associated disciplines) with its corporate office in New York City and its operations center i ...
defines formal structures, roles, and processes for each of the last three. Management representatives are typically not involved in the conduct of a peer review except when included because of specific technical expertise or when the work product under review is a management-level document. This is especially true of line managers of other participants in the review. Processes for formal peer reviews, such as
software inspection Inspection in software engineering Software engineering is the systematic application of engineering approaches to the software development, development of software. A software engineer is a person who applies the principles of software engineer ...
s, define specific roles for each participant, quantify stages with entry/exit criteria, capture
software metrics A software metric is a standard of measure of a degree to which a software system or process possesses some property. Even if a metric is not a measurement (metrics are functions, while measurements are the numbers obtained by the application of met ...
on the peer review process.


"Open source" reviews

In the free / open source community, something like peer review has taken place in the engineering and evaluation of
computer software Software is a collection of instructions Instruction or instructions may refer to: Computing * Instruction, one operation of a processor within a computer architecture instruction set * Computer program, a collection of instructions Music * I ...

computer software
. In this context, the rationale for peer review has its equivalent in
Linus's law In software development, Linus's law is the assertion that "given enough eyeballs, all software bug, bugs are shallow". The law was formulated by Eric S. Raymond in his essay and book ''The Cathedral and the Bazaar'' (1999), and was named in honor ...
, often phrased: "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow", meaning "If there are enough reviewers, all problems are easy to solve."
Eric S. Raymond Eric Steven Raymond (born December 4, 1957), often referred to as ESR, is an American software developer, open-source software advocate, and author of the 1997 essay and 1999 book ''The Cathedral and the Bazaar''. He wrote a guidebook for the R ...
has written influentially about peer review in
software development Software development is the process of conceiving, specifying, designing, programming, documenting, testing, and bug fixing involved in creating and maintaining applications Application may refer to: Mathematics and computing * Application ...
.{{cite document, author=Eric S. Raymond, title=The Cathedral and the Bazaar, title-link=The Cathedral and the Bazaar, author-link=Eric S. Raymond


References

Software review Peer review