Happy birthday Review Board!

One whole year…

While attending SuperHappyDevHouse, David and I realized that it was the one year anniversary of Review Board‘s public announcement. (This was the evening of May 17th. I’m just a few hours late in getting this post up.)

It’s been a pretty awesome year for Review Board. What begun as a small project intended for use in our team at VMware and in our personal open source projects turned into a large project with a great community of developers and users. It’s now being used by dozens of companies and projects (some of which have given us permission to list them publicly) and has had code contributions from over 35 users. To everyone who has contributed to the project, we’d like to give our thanks. Review Board wouldn’t be the tool it is today without your help.

I’d like to list some of the major things that have happened in the past year.

  • Review Board has been adopted by one or more teams at around 40 companies (including Yahoo! Search, VMware, and Tripwire).
  • Received contributions from over 35 users.
  • Added support for CVS, Subversion, Perforce, Git, Mercurial, and Bazaar.
  • Added support for useful features such as interdiffs, screenshot commenting, syntax highlighted diffs, customizable dashboard for keeping track of review requests, status reports, a full JSON API, and more.
  • Several presentations were given at various companies and conferences on Review Board by third parties.
  • One public presentation was given by us at LugRadio Live USA 2008 (view the presentation)
  • We’ve started hosting projects for this year’s Google Summer of Code on our Summer of Code server.

That’s just a small sampling. There have been many changes made to stabilize the codebase, improve usability, and generally make the product more awesome.

And of course there’s a number of things happening in the near future:

  • Monotone support.
  • A new, improved administration UI.
  • Extensions support, allowing Review Board to be extended in a variety of ways and integrated into other products.
  • A new set of command-line tools and a Python library for working with Review Board servers.
  • Support for P4V (for Windows Perforce users).

Database Migration and Parent Diffs

Today, a change went in that improves Review Board in two fundamental ways.

First, we now have a fast, powerful way of doing database migrations in-place, without dumping and loading the database. While this should make life easier for users and allow us to modify the database without fear of breaking people’s installs as often, it will also save administrators of large Review Board servers a lot of time. Before this change, the VMware database (of over 25,000 review requests) took at least 30 minutes to do a full migration. Now it shouldn’t take more than a minute.

Second, we’ve just landed the initial support for diffs based on parent diffs. If you’re a user of a distributed version control system (such as Git or Mercurial) you’ll appreciate this. Before, your change had to apply against revisions in the master repository, making it impossible to put up a review request for a change on a sub-branch of a branch when the parent branch didn’t exist on the server. Now, a diff of the parent branch can be uploaded along with your sub-branch’s diff.

Confused? Maybe an example will help. Say you’re working on a large restructuring change in your “code-restructure” branch in your local Git checkout. You have a topic branch off of your “code-restructure” branch with changes you want to put up for review. This used to be impossible without including the whole “code-restructure” branch’s changes in your diff as well, but now, you can put up a diff of the topic branch along with a diff of the “code-restructure” branch, and the topic branch’s diff will appear on Review Board, ready for review.

The backend code for this is now in Subversion. We’ll be adding support to the post-review tool shortly, making this accessible to anyone. Review Board will become fully usable for distributed version control systems.

Are you using Review Board?

Review Board is gaining popularity, and more companies are beginning to use it. If you work for a company or an open source project that’s using Review Board and can give us permission to list you on our Happy Users page, please let us know!

And here’s to an even better year for Review Board.

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