Another book from Packt

Packt asked me to review another book for them; this time on Review Board.  “Getting Started With Review Board” by Sandeep Rawat. Maybe they didn’t actually read my previous review of the QtCreator book. After I replied that I would be happy to write an actual review, that would probably be bad,  rather than just an endorsement I didn’t hear back from them

Review Board is a great tool. I have been using at work now for several years. It is a free open source tool for code review. In the very early days the setup required installing several packages but for several versions now the setup/upgrade process has been made trivially easy. It uses the python easy_install tools so normally the install, including all the pre-requisites can be done with a single command. It also has great online help and installation instructions. It is also very easy to use. I find that new users in my team just need a 5 minute explanation of the main features and they are good to go.

Which brings me to the Pack book. It is described on their web page as

This book is a concise, to-the-point guide with a practical walkthrough of the code review workflow using the features present in Reviewboard. 

Based on the table of contents and the sample chapter what this means is that the book is simply a very short description of what reviewboard is. The sample chapter on “Reviewing Code Review Requests” was simply a description of the Review Board features that are not only easy to figure out for yourself they are also described fully in the free help with the program. The book will also be out of date very soon since Review Board 2.0 is about to be released.

So I don’t really understand the point of this book. Why would anyone want to spend $12  for the eBook or $22 for a paper book for something that is not really needed and available for free online.

What would actually be useful is a book on how to do code reviews. Karl Wieigers “Peer Reviews in Software: A Practical Guide” is one of the best books on the subject that I have found. Smart Bear also have a free eBook on code review available (requires registration) which while obviously meant to advertise their code review tool does discuss code review in general. However, there are not so many books that cover code reviews.

The publisher of the book is often a good indicator of the quality of the book. Some publishers, like The Pragmatic Programmers are always reliable.  I think I will be avoiding Packt books in the future.

David Dibben
David Dibben
Software developer of electromagnetic simulation systems