To use the checklist, you should do a sit-down meeting with, ideally, three reviewers not including the code author. Divide the checklist up into three portions as indicated. Be sure to run decent static analysis before the review to safe reviewer time -- let the tools find the easy stuff before spending human time on the review.
After an initial orientation to what the code is supposed to do and relevant background, the review process is:
- The review leader picks the next few lines of code to be reviewed and makes sure everyone is ONLY focused on those few lines. Usually this is 5-10 lines encompassing a conditional structure, a basic block, or other generally unified small chunk within the code.
- Reviewers identify any code problems relevant to their part of the checklist. It's OK if they notice others, but they should focus on individually considering each item in their part of the checklist and ask "do I see a violation of this item" in just the small chunk of code being considered.
- Reviewer comments should be recorded in the form: "Line X seems to violate Checklist Item Y for the following reason." Do NOT suggest a fix -- just record the issue.
- When all comments have been recorded, go back to step 1. Continue to review up to a maximum of 2 hours. You should be covering about 100-200 lines of code per hour. Too fast and too slow are both a problem.
A text version of the checklist is below. You can also download an acrobat version here. Additional pointers to support materials are after the checklist. If you have a static analysis tool that automates any of the checklist item, feel free to replace that item with something else that's important to you.
Peer Review Checklist: Embedded C Code
0 _____ Code compiles clean with extensive warning checks (e.g. MISRA C rules)
1 _____ Commenting: top of file, start of function, code that needs an explanation
2 _____ Style is consistent and follows style guidelines
3 _____ Proper modularity, module size, use of .h files and #includes
4 _____ No orphans (redundant, dead, commented out, unused code & variables)
5 _____ Conditional expressions evaluate to a boolean value; no assignments
6 _____ Parentheses used to avoid operator precedence confusion
7 _____ All switch statements have a default clause; preferably an error trap
8 _____ Single point of exit from each function
9 _____ Loop entry and exit conditions correct; minimum continue/break complexity
10 _____ Conditionals should be minimally nested (generally only one or two deep)
11 _____ All functions can be unit tested; SCC or SF complexity less than 10 to 15
12 _____ Use const and inline instead of #define; minimize conditional compilation
13 _____ Avoid use of magic numbers (constant values embedded in code)
14 _____ Use strong typing (includes: sized types, structs for coupled data, const)
15 _____ Variables have well chosen names and are initialized at definition
16 _____ Minimum scope for all functions and variables; essentially no globals
17 _____ Concurrency issues? (locking, volatile keyword, minimize blocking time)
18 _____ Input parameter checking is done (style, completeness)
19 _____ Error handling for function returns is appropriate
20 _____ Null pointers, division by zero, null strings, boundary conditions handled
21 _____ Floating point use is OK (equality, NaN, INF, roundoff); use of fixed point
22 _____ Buffer overflow safety (bound checking, avoid unsafe string operations)
23 _____ Does the code match the detailed design (correct functionality)?
24 _____ Is the code as simple, obvious, and easy to review as possible?
For TWO Reviewers assign items: Reviewer#1: 1-11; 23-24 Reviewer#2: 12-24
Items that are covered with static analysis can be removed from checklist
Template 1/28/2018: Copyright CC BY 4.0, 2018, Philip Koopman
Additional material to help you with successful peer reviews:
- A slide set about peer reviews
- A video tutorial on peer reviews: YouTube
- Peer review reporting spreadsheet blog post
- Other ideas for adding to the peer review checklist are at this blog entry. It's important to keep the checklist brief, so pick your battles and keep the items high level.
- SF complexity metric blog post
- Peer reviews and the 50/50 rule blog post