Datasports on Software Development

Articles and updates from Datasports about the craft of software

Review Services

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1. Overview

Datasports is pleased to announce that we are providing outsourced review services for code and technical documentation. The basic model is that customers email or upload the artifacts for review, a short phone, Skype, or email conversation with a consultant provides the necessary context, and then a written review report is turned around within the time agreed. Target turnaround time will be 3 business days – we may be able to turn around reviews faster or need more time depending on current workload and amount of notice.

Who needs outsourced review services? Anyone who has software as part of their business practices or products and does not have senior technical resources (architect or higher) as part of their organization, or who value an expert second opinion (or a third as a tie-breaker!). Use cases for outsourced code and document review include:

  1. Smaller teams where a full-time architect is not feasible.
  2. Work on critical subsystems where an outside second opinion is valued.
  3. Evaluating staff or potential hires.
  4. Evaluating deliverables from contractors.
  5. Assessing proposals in response to an RFP.
  6. Evaluating different scaling or platform migration approaches who need to identify important choke points, state maintenance, potential concurrency issues, etc.
  7. Teams in need of mentoring or guidance to establish best practices.

With the growing prevalance of outsourced development, and smaller, more junior teams assembled to work in more dynamic contexts, it is very likely that most companies that are building or buying custom software would benefit from at least some external review.

By remaining at arm’s length, removed from the intra-office personalities and politics, Datasports can offer unbiased review of code and documentation where the only consideration is the quality of the work.

Our senior consultant brings almost 20 years of experience writing and reviewing code and technical documentation, and providing technical leadership and mentoring to teams of 2-20+ people of varying levels of seniority, including local, remote, and outsourced.

2. Code Review

2.1. Service

After an initial consultation to provide some context and set goals for the review, the code is shared with the reviewer by uploading or emailing it.

We will take on review of any code, regardless of language or platform. For special cases of platforms or languages that are new to Datasports, the turnaround time may be extended slightly to ensure the best quality.

2.1.1 What is covered

The priorities for the review will be agreed to in the initial consultation. In general, though, we will focus on issues such as the following:

  1. Consistency of style and naming.
  2. Concurrency issues.
  3. Performance bottlenecks.
  4. Copy & paste code.
  5. Unclear code.
  6. Inappropriate class structure or encapsulation of code or data.
  7. Mismatches between logic and comments: does the code actually do what is stated in comments or implied in the method/class names?
  8. Amount of coverage in automated test cases.

2.1.2 What isn’t covered

The main things that will not be covered are items related to build/test/deploy. It is just not feasible to set up the relevant environments for every combination of language and platform. Also, those processes should be highly automated and relatively stable once sorted out.

Similarly, issues that are best found with static code analysis tools will not be the focus of the review. We are happy to make recommendations about tools that will suit your requirements and how to integrate them into your processes.

2.2. Fees

The baseline charge is $1 per line of source, plus any applicable taxes. A line of source is defined as a line in a source file. This includes comments and blank lines. If code is formatted with excessive whitespace, the line count will be adjusted down. If it is formatted with excessive logic crammed into a single line of source, the line count will be adjusted up. The line count will be provided to the customer on receipt of the code, before review begins. If there is any disagreement or misunderstanding about the amount of work and the resultant charges, there will be opportunity to clear them up before work begins and costs are incurred.

For review of StreamBase code, the rate is $1 per operator and/or nontrivial StreamBase expression. Again, the characterization of the work and a written estimate will be communicated before any work begins.

The first review for a given project will include an initial consultation. There is no additional charge for this consultation, but there is a 500 line minimum for the first review. Subsequent reviews for the same project/codebase will have a 100 line minimum.

3. Document Review

In addition to reviewing code, Datasports is also offering expert review of technical documentation. After an initial consultation to provide some context and set goals for the review, the documentation is shared with the reviewer by uploading or emailing it.

3.1. Service

Examples of technical documents we can review for you include:

  1. System and module requirements documents.
  2. System and module design documents.
  3. System and module test plans.
  4. Proposals received in response to RFPs.
  5. UML and similar models.
  6. User Stories & work backlogs.
NOTE: Documents must be provided in a softcopy format which includes the ability to search, copy, and paste text. There will be an additional fee for documents whose text content is not searchable. Paper documentation will not be accepted under any circumstances.

3.1.1 What is covered

The review will focus on:

  1. Technical validity of content (e.g. are the requirements testable? Does the proposed design address those requirements?)
  2. Clarity.
  3. Consistency of style and format.
  4. Specificity.
  5. Spelling and grammar.

3.1.2 What isn’t covered

We are only comfortable accepting documentation written in the English language. We do not have plans to offer review services for documents written in languages other than English.

For documents that implicitly or explicitly depend on complex math or calculations (e.g. sophisticated Excel spreadsheets, DB reporting logic, mathematical proofs, etc.), the review may not include validation of those calculations. For computation and calculation, some may fit under our code review service, in the case of pure math, some may be beyond the scope of the reviewer’s ability.

Lastly, we will not perform research to validate or invalidate the content of the documents against other information.

Exactly what we can and can not cover for your specific documents will be discussed in the initial consultation and/or your written estimate.

3.2. Fees

The baseline charge is $20 per page (letter or A4 equivalent). Where the documents are not intrinsically paginated, a page count will be created by copying and pasting the content into an MS Word document with single spacing and a 12 point font.

If the content is presented in an exceptionally dense or sparse format, the page count will be adjusted up or down, respectively. As with the code review process, you will receive a written estimate before work begins.

The first review for a given project will include an initial consultation. There is no additional charge for this consultation, but there is a 25 page minimum for the first review (this may span multiple documents). Subsequent reviews for the same project will have a 5 page minimum.

4. Confidentiality

Any code or documentation shared with Datasports for review remains 100% your intellectual property. Datasports will not share or reuse anything that you send to us, nor do we claim any ownership of your code or documents once they have been updated to address our review comments. Any changes that we suggest are entirely yours to accept or reject.

You do not have to worry about finding your code or documents on sites like Stack Overflow or The Daily WTF, nor will we post customer code or documents on this site.

We have a standard Non Disclosure Agreement to keep things simple for our customers. If your legal representation requires use of a different agreement, we will do our best to accommodate you.

5. Satisfaction Policy

We guarantee that the amount on your invoice will never exceed the amount quoted in your estimate, which you approve before work begins. If you do not approve the estimate, you will not be charged anything.

If you are not satisfied with the review report (whether for documents or code), we will either revise at no additional cost until you are satisfied, or we will waive your fee.

6. Contact

We are based in Toronto and can be reached at:


Written by datasports

May 29, 2013 at 12:49 PM

One Response

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  1. […] of our services & pricing can be found on our Review Services […]

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