Small vs complex pull requests

Nimrod Vered

ex-CTO at Voyager Capital


Here are some of the advantages:

· Faster Review Cycles: Smaller pull requests are generally easier and quicker to review. By breaking down a large and complex task into smaller, manageable units, you enable your team members to review and provide feedback more efficiently. This accelerates the review process, leading to faster iterations and reduced bottlenecks.

· Improved Collaboration: Smaller pull requests encourage more collaboration among team members. When the changes are contained within a smaller scope, it becomes easier for developers to discuss, debate, and share their insights. This collaboration can lead to higher-quality code, as different perspectives and ideas are brought to the table.

· Reduced Merge Conflicts: Large and complex pull requests are more likely to cause merge conflicts, especially when multiple team members are working on different aspects of the same codebase. By breaking down the changes into smaller units, the likelihood of conflicts decreases, resulting in smoother and faster merging of code.

· Better Code Maintainability: Small pull requests contribute to improved code maintainability. When changes are made in smaller increments, it becomes easier to understand and reason about the modifications. This helps in identifying and fixing issues more effectively, as the changes are isolated and localized.

· Easier Troubleshooting: With smaller pull requests, troubleshooting and debugging become less challenging. If a problem arises, it is easier to pinpoint the specific code changes that introduced the issue. This focused approach simplifies the debugging process, allowing developers to address problems swiftly.

· Incremental Progress: Small pull requests enable your team to make incremental progress towards completing a feature or a task. Each pull request represents a step forward, which can be reviewed, tested, and deployed independently. This incremental approach promotes a sense of accomplishment, boosts motivation, and allows for faster delivery of value to users.

Measuring your team's usage of small pull requests can provide valuable insights into their adoption and effectiveness. Here are a few metrics, provided by Uplevel, you can use to measure and track the usage of small pull requests:

· Pull Request Size: One straightforward metric is to measure the size of pull requests in terms of lines of code (LOC) or the number of files changed. Set a threshold for what constitutes a small pull request based on your team's context. You can analyze the distribution of pull request sizes over time and track the percentage of small pull requests to get an idea of the team's usage.

· Review Cycle Time: Measure the time it takes for a pull request to move from creation to completion, specifically focusing on the review stage. Compare the average review cycle time for small pull requests versus large ones. If small pull requests tend to have shorter review cycles, it indicates that they are easier to review and facilitate faster iterations.

· Deployment Frequency: Monitor how frequently pull requests are deployed to production. If small pull requests are deployed more frequently, it indicates that they are easier to validate, integrate, and release. This metric aligns with the principles of continuous integration and continuous deployment.

By advocating for small pull requests, you can enhance collaboration, accelerate the development cycle, and foster a culture of agility and efficiency within your engineering team. With Uplevel metrics you can gain a comprehensive understanding of your team's usage of small pull requests. These measurements will help you assess the effectiveness of this approach and identify areas for improvement.

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Nimrod Vered

ex-CTO at Voyager Capital

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