Web Development · Outsourcing

Checking outsourced code for quality?

Tramaine Winfrey producer

January 30th, 2016

I am outsourcing my coding for a new web app I am creating. Problem is we don't have a tech lead to correspond, so I have been taking over that task (Nightmare, But I'm fairly tech savvy so it's just the language barrier.). Now functionally the site looks and works great! I am curious though, how clean the coding is and how easy it would be to transfer coding teams when the time comes. Are there any services that will look over existing source code and, sort of, grade it? Maybe even fix the issues? We've made it to a great place with minimal investment. I just don't want to move into the next phase or app with these developers until I'm 100% sure they can do it well, and I can easily transition in the future. Would appreciate any pointers!

Bill French Data Sciences Architect at Intelliscape Pty Ltd

January 30th, 2016


One of the challenges in building products is the amount of code debt a startup will tolerate to get to market early and at the lowest possible investment. I've found that the initial developers know far better than anyone the exact nature of short-cuts taken and areas of the code that are less than ideal.

I have created a lot of code and on some projects, the debt is sizeable, but for good reason and well documented. I require my clients to compensate me for a comprehensive duty to underscore all aspects of the product that are at risk in terms of performance, scalability, and maintenance cost.

Getting another architect or development firm to read and understand your code is a costly process. I've found it far easier to encourage developers in startup organizations, to document and share known design and implementation weaknesses in an open and transparent way. In fact, in companies that I have equity positions, I offer a bounty for every item of code debt the team can find and document. It's cheaper to pay now (and know) than pay much more later with the likely risk that your new team will miss some things.

When a team is economically incentivized to document engineering weaknesses and opportunities for innovation, the data about your code-based investment rises dramatically without creating conflict or incurring significant expenses with other consultants.

By embracing the challenges of hardening software products and creating sustainable solutions, your initial development consultants quickly become partners because they know that if everything is above-board and well documented, there's a good chance they will get the nod to build future releases.

Joe Emison Chief Information Officer at Xceligent

January 30th, 2016

The cheapest and easiest way to get a check on the code quality is to start interviewing other firms or freelancers as possible options to take over the development of the code.  Get a cost estimate from your current developers for some set of planned or hypothetical future features in the code base, and then ask for the same quote from the others, and give them access to the code.

They'll tell you what shape they think the code is in, and you may find a better option for development. Talk to multiple people/firms, and tell each that you're getting multiple quotes. Otherwise they're more likely to dump on the code a lot, regardless of how bad it is.

By the way, my guess is that the code quality is bad. Reasonably-priced outsourced development almost always writes mediocre code with little documentation and no test coverage. 

Sachin Naik

January 30th, 2016


I am going to share what I did for our site. Code reviews take some time and it can be challenging to find time when you have so many other things to do (besides I barely know Javascript so understanding the syntax takes more time as well).

So I u

HTML validation


CSS validation


Page speed insights


Ping testing


Speed testing (FireFox)


Overall testing


Browser testing


and http://crossbrowsertesting.com/

Performance testing


Overall testing (Firefox) - HTML, CSS, Network, Javascript, DOM, Cookies



There are other useful tools I recommend checking out  - I recall using Dareboost which gave out some nice detailed info.

For browser compatibility tests, particularly on mobile devices

All of this helped us achieve a pagespeed score that is even better than google (inspite of having 8x the data). Our site is lyfe (dot) events (just a landing page template for now but content will be added soon) is a 100/100 for mobile UX and in the high 80s or 90s for everything else.

I will look into the other tools listed here (code climate, codacy) they sound interesting. There are many good points here about the benefits of test coverage, incentivising documentation of technical / code debt, logging, good dev process and you should do whatever realistically possible based on your situation.

One final thing I would say is that it is very important to take the test results as "indicators" not as an absolute checklist of everything that must be done. Some things may not be worth the effort or might even be wrong (in our case we got a low score on use of CDN though we are using a CDN cloud service). So not all the data from these tests is the absolute truth.

I would be happy to share a set of coding standards, guidelines & best practices that I compiled for my site. Feel free to mail me sachin (at) play hyphen tm (dot) biz.

All the best!!

Amit Gulati Technical Lead at TuneCore

January 30th, 2016

Hello Youngfyre, You might want to look into Code Climate. They provide hooks into your code and evaluate the quality based on common coding standards. It is quite configurable if you know what you want to test your code on, but works well out of the box as well. Development shops often use this service internally to ensure code quality, and in some cases I've even heard of consultants tying a particular Code Climate grade to their deliverables in a contract. There's also a tool called Hound CI that provides comments on the style of your code, it's a little more superficial than Code Climate but can provide some insight into the consistency of your code as well. Best of luck, Amit

Zhenya Rozinskiy Partner at Agile Fuel

January 30th, 2016

There are companies (many decent custom development shops) that would provide code audit and review. It will probably cost a little more since you want a senior enough person looking at it. 

I would not advise to use just another vendor pretending that you are shopping around. They will have a competing agenda. In their mind they will want to find problems (real or not) to sell their services. 

I have used code reviews services quite a few times. 

Jesal Gadhia

January 30th, 2016

In addition to code climate which was mentioned earlier, I'd also suggest looking at codacy. I'd also suggest integrating a Continuous Integration server such as codeship which can run the tests and send the results to codeclimate. Having a decent amount of test coverage will play an important role in the long term stability and maintainability of your app.

In terms of evaluating the overall architecture of your app, there is no alternative other than a human review but you can look into a service like new relic or app dynamics to provide you with a big picture of how well your app is scaling, how it's performing, etc at any given time.

Tramaine Winfrey producer

January 30th, 2016

Wow, I appreciate the advice thus far. I've admired the community and people here for a while. Nice to receive helpful advice. As far as the quality, I'm thinking it may be of good quality. Looking at it seems fairly organized. I have a good relationship with them, so if there is something they have the capacity to fix, (especially in regards to notation etc.) I'm sure they would fix it. Zhenya, I'd love to hear some suggestions for a code auditing company. I will also try out code climate. Any more info,advice, or suggestions is most definitely appreciated!

Zhenya Rozinskiy Partner at Agile Fuel

January 30th, 2016

Email me zhenya at rozinskiy dot com and I'll connect you. what technology are we talking here. 

Sebastian Pereyro

January 31st, 2016

I would recommend to go to www.codementor.io, create an account and create a session request. Describe the language the web app is developed in and then mentors with those skills will start making offers for helping you to go through the code with you, kind of like a app/code review. You can do an online session and go over the code you have more doubts. You can ask questions right there. I think this approach would work for you because you are tech savvy, so you will understand if someone says the code looks good but here they could have done this for better performance...etc. give it a try..keep moving :D


January 31st, 2016

Hi -- Another way to look at this is that ALL code needs to be 'refactored' sooner or later. Anyone's first guess about how to write the code is just a guess, and great programmers (these days, especially with an agile mindset) actually look forward to throwing out their old code and refactoring it. It seems counter-intuitive, but it's just good maintenance.

This service is for more code review *with* programmers, but they might help you too: https://www.codementor.io