Oct 13, 2020 - Daniel Gruesso    

Code review made easier thanks to merge request reviewers in GitLab 13.6

Code review is a critically important part of the software development, but it can be hard – and time consuming – to arrange. That's where our new merge request reviewers feature comes in. Here's what to look for in our 13.6 release.

Edit: This feature was originally planned for the 13.5 release but has now been rescheduled to the 13.6 release in order to address some performance improvements.

Requesting a code review is an important part of contributing code to any software project. However, deciding who should review your code and asking for a review are no easy tasks. Historically, teams making use of merge requests for their code review needs have used the "assignee" field for both authors and reviewers but this makes it hard for others to determine who's doing what on a merge request; for example, consider a merge request with a single author and 2 reviewers. If all parties are on the “assignee” field at once, it is hard for an external user to find out who to reach out for something specific.

The back-and-forth between authors and reviewers causes the author to go through MR history to find the original reviewer as well as unnecessary assigning back and forth from everyone. Peers who are coming on to assist cannot easily find relevant players for this merge request. Lastly, the merge request author does not know if a reviewer has reviewed but not approved the changes, or if more work is needed from them.

Improving code reviews

To bridge these gaps, GitLab 13.6 introduces merge request "reviewers," which easily allows authors to request a review as well as see the status of the review. By simply selecting one or more users from the "reviewers" field, the assigned reviewers will receive a notification of the request to review the merge request. This makes it easy to determine the relevant roles for the users involved in the merge request, as well as formally requesting a review from a peer.

Merge request reviewers Screenshot from upcoming GitLab 13.6 release

What's next

Future improvements include suggesting the most relevant reviewers as well as streamlining the approval rules experience when paired with reviewers.

We are excited to see this feature ship soon to GitLab.com and for self-managed users on October 22nd. As always, we encourage you to participate in the conversation by visiting the related reviewers epic in the GitLab project.

Cover image by Kevin Ku on Unsplash

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