Code review tools can help developers collaborate and improve code quality so they can ship robust, issue-free software. This guide will discuss the following top code review tools in terms of their features, pros, cons and pricing:
- GitHub: ideal for developers using Git repositories and who are already on the popular software development platform.
- GitLab: a great pick for developers needing comprehensive code review, CI/CD and collaboration from a DevSecOps platform.
- Bitbucket: a solid choice for development teams that already use other Atlassian tools and are in the market for a comprehensive code review, collaboration and CI/CD tool.
- Crucible: a sensible selection for Atlassian users needing a collaborative peer code review tool with reporting.
- What to look for in code review software
- Final thought on code review tools
GitHub is an AI-powered developer platform with lightweight code review capabilities and is one of the most popular tools for software development. It offers diffs, comments, review requests, permissions, protected branches and more.
Features of GitHub
Some of GitHub’s top code review features are:
- Diffs that highlight code changes.
- Timeline history of comments.
- Blame view.
- Comments for improved communication.
- Branch permissions.
- Protected branches.
GitHub has side-by-side diffs to easily spot code changes, a timeline-style history to browse comments, references and other details related to your pull requests. Plus, it has a blame view to see how a file looked prior to specific changes.
Comments allow for conversations alongside code and review requests, which let developers ask for feedback (and receive it). Permissions and protected branches limit human error to protect code quality. Lastly, GitHub lets you easily integrate with other third-party tools, including those that offer additional code review capabilities.
Pros of GitHub
GitHub’s pros include:
- Free plan.
- Ideal for Git users.
- Intuitive user interface.
- Plenty of integrations with other developer tools.
Getting code reviews with GitHub’s Free plan is a significant plus. If you already use the GitHub platform and Git repositories, choosing this code review tool is a no-brainer. The intuitive interface is another plus, as are seamless integrations with third-party programmer tools that add functionality like automated pipelines, build features, and code analysis.
Cons of GitHub
GitHub’s cons include:
- Supports only Git repositories.
- Complexity for beginners.
- Pricing not very flexible.
The fact that code review here only works with Git repositories hosted on GitHub limits flexibility for some developers. Beginners may find version control challenging at the beginning and the pricing plans are not too flexible for differing budgets.
GitHub has three pricing plans developers can choose from:
- Free: Basic features at no cost. The Free plan has unlimited private and public repositories, 500MB of storage, community support and 2,000 monthly CI/CD minutes.
- Team: $3.67 per user, per month. Team has 3,000 monthly CI/CD minutes and 2GB of storage and adds draft pull requests, pages, wikis, protected branches, GitHub Codespaces access and multiple reviewers in pull requests.
- Enterprise: $19.25 per user, per month. Enterprise offers user provisioning, single sign-on, advanced auditing, GitHub connect, 50GB of storage, 50,000 monthly CI/CD minutes and more.
All three of the developer tool’s plans come with code review capabilities, allowing you to review new code, see visual changes and merge those changes with automated status checks.
GitLab is a popular AI-powered DevSecOps platform with code review, project management capabilities, collaborative features, automation, CI/CD and more for software development teams seeking an all-in-one tool.
Features of GitLab
Some of GitLab’s features that make it highly-regarded code review software include:
- Merge requests.
- Diffs for code changes.
- Commenting alongside code.
- Code suggestions.
- Code controls.
- Advanced reporting and analytics.
Merge requests in GitLab kickstart the code review process and let software development team members, reviewers and approvers collaborate. Reviewers can easily spot code changes via diffs, while comments let them discuss changes and ask questions for clarity. They can also insert suggestions for lines of code for convenience.
GitLab has code controls to ensure quality, such as defined code owners, approval rules, etc. And the programmer tool also has code quality reports for spotting quality changes in the merge request and code review analytics to spot patterns and trends that could slow the development cycle.
Pros of GitLab
GitLab’s pros include:
- Comprehensive code review.
- Built-in collaboration tools.
- Compatibility with major frameworks and languages.
GitLab offers comprehensive code review. It checks for code quality and complexity, ensures code remains readable, concise and easy to maintain and looks for bugs and other problems before production.
Software development teams can use the tool to stay on the same page regarding issue and merge requests, etc. with various collaborative features. More importantly, GitLab offers enhanced security with its dependency and container scanning. Another GitLab pro worth mentioning is compatibility, as the programmer tool works with the most popular frameworks and languages.
Cons of GitLab
GitLab’s cons include:
- Complicated user interface.
- No code reviews in the Free plan.
Getting started with GitLab can take some time, and the initial setup may be more than what you bargained for. The user interface could use a modern facelift, as it is outdated compared to some competitors and even appears sluggish at times.
Additionally, GitLab is costlier than some other code review tools. And while it does have a Free plan, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan to access code review capabilities.
GitLab lets developers choose between SaaS and self-hosted options. The developer tool’s pricing plans are as follows:
- Free: Basic features for individuals at no cost. The GitLab Free plan lacks code review capabilities. It offers 5GB of storage, 400 monthly compute minutes and free static websites.
- Premium: $29 per user, per month. Premium offers code reviews, advanced CI/CD, merge requests with approval rules, Agile planning, 50GB of storage and 10,000 monthly compute minutes.
- Ultimate: $99 per user, per month. Ultimate offers suggested reviewers, container and dependency scanning, vulnerability management, security dashboards, dynamic application security testing, 250GB of storage and 50,000 monthly compute minutes.
- Dedicated: Custom pricing. Dedicated, built for those with a 1,000-seat commitment, offers data residency, enterprise-grade security and data and source code isolation.
Check out our GitLab Tool Review for more information.
Bitbucket from Atlassian is a Git code management tool for software development teams that offers comprehensive code review, collaboration and built-in CI/CD. Due to seamless integration, it is ideal for developers that already use other Atlassian tools, such as Jira, for project management.
Features of Bitbucket
Bitbucket has many code review features, such as:
- Code-first interface.
- Side-by-side view.
- Code Insights feature.
- Code control with reviewer conditions.
- Jira integration.
Bitbucket has a code-first interface that simplifies collaboration, bug-spotting and merging.
The side-by-side view offers task management capabilities and commenting to make it easier to review large diffs.
The DevOps tool integrates test and security scan results in the pull request view with its Code Insights feature, allowing developers to find and fix bugs quickly before shipping. You can list reviewer conditions that must be checked before approval for ultimate code control, plus enjoy added collaboration and project management features via seamless Jira integration.
Pros of Bitbucket
Bitbucket’s advantages include:
- Easy to use.
- Free plan.
- Integration with Jira.
- Security features.
Bitbucket is easy to use and configure. The Free plan offers the Code Insights, which is excellent news for individuals or small teams with limited budgets looking to find and fix issues with fewer resources. The seamless integration with another Atlassian product, Jira, makes Bitbucket a no-brainer if you already use the issue-tracking and project management software. If you opt for the Premium plan, Bitbucket offers top-notch security to keep your code shielded.
Cons of Bitbucket
Bitbucket’s disadvantages include:
- Outdated interface.
- Slow at times.
Bitbucket is easy to use, but its outdated user interface could use a modern facelift to keep up with the times. If you deal with large repositories or complex operations, do not be surprised if the developer tool’s performance slows significantly. If you have a larger team and need to opt for the Premium plan, Bitbucket’s cost could creep up on you.
Bitbucket’s pricing plans are as follows:
- Free: No cost. The Free plan works for up to five users. It offers Code Insights, 50 monthly build minutes, 1GB of storage, 10 deployment environments, unlimited private repositories, CI/CD, unlimited pull request viewers, merge checks and Jira project management software integration.
- Standard: $3 per user, per month. Standard works with unlimited users and offers 2,500 monthly build minutes, 5GB of storage and 50 deployment environments.
- Premium: $6 per user, per month. Premium offers 3,500 monthly build minutes, 10GB of storage, 50 deployment environments and adds IP allowlisting, deployment permissions and two-step verification.
Check out our Bitbucket Review for more information.
Crucible is a collaborative peer code review tool from Atlassian with reporting that lets developers review, discuss and track changes.
Features of Crucible
Some Crucible highlights include:
- Threaded discussions.
- Complete audit trail.
- Advanced reporting.
- Version control systems compatibility.
Developers can use Crucible’s threaded discussions to review code and discuss any changes or issues. The developer tool offers a complete audit trail with code review details down to specific reviews, plus reports to spot areas where you can improve code quality. Crucible works with all the top version control systems and integrates with Atlassian tools and other add-ons for extended functionality and customization.
Pros of Crucible
Crucible’s strengths include:
- Atlassian integration.
- VCS support.
- Customizations for continuous integration.
Atlassian users will love how Crucible integrates seamlessly with other developer tools from the Brand, such as Jira, Bitbucket, and Confluence. Crucible’s interface is user-friendly and easy to navigate. Additionally, the tool’s support for multiple version control systems like Git, Mercurial and Perforce is advantageous. Customization is another pro in Crucible’s favor, as you can customize it with other add-ons to promote continuous integration.
Cons of Crucible
Areas where Crucible could improve include:
- No free plan.
- Lack of AI and Machine Learning.
- Slow loading.
Although the Small Teams plan is affordable, including a free plan like other code review tools would be nice. Adding AI and machine learning, as other code review tools have, would be another welcome addition to Crucible’s capabilities. If you work with large codebases, do not be surprised if you experience occasional slow loading times.
Crucible has two pricing plans:
- Small Teams: $10 one-time payment.
- Growing Teams: Starts at $1,100 one-time payment for up to 10 users. Price increases according to team size.
The Small Teams plan has unlimited repos and works for up to five users. The Growing Teams plan offers the same, only its number of users depends on what you pay.
What to look for in code review software
Besides user-friendliness, support and pricing, there are other factors you can look at before choosing the proper code review software for your needs. Look for collaboration capabilities like commenting and discussions that help multiple developers review code simultaneously. Ensure that the code review tool has a diff viewer, reporting features and code analysis tools to spot potential problems and areas for improvement. Additionally, make sure that the code review software integrates with your version control system.
Final thoughts on the best code review tools
The code review tools listed above can help your development team collaborate to enhance code quality and ensure you ship top-notch software. Be sure to review each developer tool’s features, pros, cons and pricing before deciding so you make the right pick for your software development team’s needs.