Sentinel: Your Web-Performance Watchman

Code reviews as a service

Written by on CSS Wizardry.

Table of Contents
  1. Remote code reviews
  2. The result
    1. Featured case study: NHS
  3. In a nutshell

With my recent move to self employment, one of the things I am most keen to do is ‘educational’ work. That is to say, I want to carry on being a developer, but spend more time educating and imparting my knowledge. This is taking the shape of more talks and workshops (two upcoming) but also consultancy work; going into peoples’ offices and spending time with their devs on their products looking at how best to tackle their UI problems. This work is very specific to the clients’ needs, not something that can necessarily be picked up from examples used in talks or workshops.

However—as is often the case—budgets, locations, timeframes and a lot more can mean that getting someone on site for a number of days is sometimes unfeasible. This is a shame, but inevitable. These constraints, however, gave me an idea…

Remote code reviews

Earlier this year—at CSSconf.euJed Schmidt described me as a human CSS linter. I really loved this phrase because it nicely sums up a lot of the work I do: I spend a lot of my time assessing, rationalising and planning front-end projects, spotting potential pitfalls and teaching people how to circumvent them.

I had an idea of a way to fuse my desires to work in an ‘educator’ role (I use scare quotes as I feel that without them I would just sound really pretentious) with a variety of clients in far-flung locations: remote code reviews.

As of, well, now, I’m offering the same level of consultancy—on your products to solve your problems—but with fixed deliverables in a fixed timeframe and at a fixed price. You grant me access to your codebase—however you see fit—and I spend a day scrutinising it, writing up a comprehensive review document, providing refactored and improved examples, suggestion for alterations, and a general critique of the code as a whole, and then we have a Skype call a few days later to discuss it all, and answer any questions you may have. This isn’t just me saying ‘this is good’ or ‘this is bad’; it’s a comprehensive, documented review of your full site’s CSS, with a list of detailed changes necessary to improve scalability, sanity, architecture and a lot, lot more.

The result

The outcome of all of this is twofold.

Firstly, and most obviously, the quality of your code on the reviewed site or app will be improved. The product itself will see benefits from a maintenance and scalability point of view. There is a direct benefit to the product, site, or app, in question. Talks and workshops are all well and good, but they only ever deal with deliberately chosen examples that may have no application or relevance to your product. A review of your own code can deal with nothing but realistic examples.

Secondly, and far more importantly, the review will give you and/or your team a detailed review of the way you work in general. The review will act as a lesson of sorts, tailored around examples of your own, on code you wrote. This means that, as well as improving the quality of the reviewed codebase, it will improve the work you do on all sites. Sure, the review will make the codebase in question better, but it will make the work you do day-to-day a lot better too. It will fix problems in the code I review, but it will also prevent you making the same mistakes in future. By looking at the way you and/or your team currently work, we can figure out a way of rolling out the improvements across all of the work you do.

Featured case study: NHS

How I helped the NHS rapidly build a brand new product.

Read case study…

In a nutshell

  • I get to work with people who clearly care a lot about the products they produce (why would you order a code review if you didn’t?!).
  • You improve the immediate quality of the codebase being reviewed.
  • You learn how to circumvent and avoid making any of the same mistakes on future projects, improving yourself as a developer.

For more information, or to arrange a review, head to my work page.

Arrange a code review!

Hi there, I’m Harry Roberts. I am an award-winning Consultant Web Performance Engineer, designer, developer, writer, and speaker from the UK. I write, Tweet, speak, and share code about measuring and improving site-speed. You should hire me.

You can now find me on Mastodon.

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I am available for hire to consult, advise, and develop with passionate product teams across the globe.

I specialise in large, product-based projects where performance, scalability, and maintainability are paramount.