In small teams, you’re spread thin, constantly multitasking. Deadlines are tight, resources are scarce, and the idea of pair programming is a pipe dream at best. But you can still maintain a high bar for code quality, thanks to the unsung hero of software development—pull requests. Juha-Matti Santala gets it; he typed an insightful piece on why pull requests are more than just a code review tool. Let’s break it down.
The Asynchronous Advantage
First off, let’s talk about time—or the lack thereof. Synchronizing schedules for real-time code reviews? Good luck with that. Enter pull requests. They’re the epitome of asynchronous collaboration. You submit your code, and your teammates can review it when they are able. No need to hover over each other’s shoulders. It’s elegant and straightforward.
Learning: A Two-Way Street
Contrary to popular belief, pull requests are not just a tool for senior devs to nitpick at juniors’ code. They’re a treasure trove of learning opportunities. A microcosm of collective wisdom. You’re not just asking for approval; you’re inviting discourse. “Here’s my solution. Got a better idea?” It’s a learning opportunity wrapped in a code diff. And let’s be honest, even in a small team, the diversity of thought can be staggering.
The Documentation You Didn’t Know You Needed
Ah, documentation—the broccoli of coding. You know it’s good for you, but you’d rather eat dessert. But guess what? Pull requests offer a form of “stealth documentation.” As you review code, you’re not just bug hunting; you’re capturing the rationale behind each line of code. These nuggets of wisdom get stored right there in the pull request, ready for future you—or whoever inherits your codebase—to benefit from. It’s like leaving breadcrumbs for those who venture into the forest after you.
Small teams can’t afford to be sloppy. Every line of code is a potential point of failure, and you don’t have the luxury of a safety net. Pull requests are that safety net. They’re a structured, yet flexible, framework for not screwing up. They’re how you keep the bar high when you’re running lean.
So the next time you’re tempted to cowboy code straight into the main branch, take a beat. Create a pull request. It might take an extra few minutes, but the long-term benefits are well worth it.