What is a code audit?

A code audit is a set of activities aimed at checking the code written by the development team. In short, it means evaluating the quality of your code.

For the most part, an audit is about architecture, meeting standards, and general code integrity rather than full regression app testing.

It can be used for many purposes:

  • to provide information on how to improve the quality in general,
  • to find and fix security issues,
  • to find and fix performance issues,

as well as to ensure your code is:

  • up to date with the current standards,
  • in line with best coding practices,
  • easy to maintain and work with,
  • secure.

Code audit vs. code review

Code audits and code reviews are some of the key software quality assurance techniques. Let’s take a look at the differences between them as well as how they’re used in effective code analysis.

A code audit is a systemic examination of the source code in a software system. It’s done to evaluate the compliance of the source code with various predefined policies.

The goal of a code audit is to find defects, technical debt, security vulnerabilities, and other issues related to quality and risks that fall short of quality standards set by your company. A typical example would be an annual software audit performed by an independent third party on behalf of your company’s business partners.

A code review, on the other hand, is a key, obligatory, and unavoidable part of any software development process.

Code reviews are done on a daily basis by a team member contributing to the project, are conducted on a small amount of code, and usually cover only one feature or a bugfix.

The goal of a code review is to check the quality of new code that is going to be merged with the existing codebase and improve it beforehand by providing feedback from other team members (code reviewers). Another great benefit of a code review is knowledge sharing, as this is one of the best occasions to talk and comment on the code created by other developers.

Code audit: features and characteristics
  • Conducted rarely and only when needed
  • Can and should be done by someone outside of the team—other developers or an outside company
  • Concerns the project as a whole
  • Similar in scope to a code review but focuses more on maintainability, meeting developer community standards, and meeting Apple and Google platform requirements
Code review: features and characteristics
  • Performed on every merge/pull request
  • Generally conducted within one team—the software development team members review each other’s code
  • Concerns only one specific issue
  • Focuses on improving the quality and maintainability of the codebase, as well as identifying areas where bugs may arise
  • Is about meeting the standards the team agreed on and being consistent with them

Why should you audit your React Native code?

If you’ve been working on a React Native or any other software project for a while, you may have noticed that the code quality sometimes goes down over time. There are several factors that can lead to software decay:

  • codebases too big and hard to manage;
  • multiple contributors not following the same standards or best practices;
  • less time spent writing tests and other documentation, since it’s easy to make changes quickly (things like this help keep your project consistent);
  • newer developers not knowing how things were done before they got involved in the development.

What are the main benefits of performing a code audit?

A good code audit can give you a great insight into creating a better product or allow you to make room for upgrades to an existing version.

But why would you bother with such a complicated, lengthy process? Is it possible to launch a product without a software code audit?

If you prefer to take chances, it is. However, we wouldn’t recommend it, as the risk may be too high.

You might think that a code audit is just another general assessment for identifying common bugs and can be replaced with code reviews during development. That’s not true. Performing a code audit on your project has far more benefits to offer than just that. Let’s take a closer look at the top advantages of performing a code audit. They include:

  • ensuring best coding practices in your team;
  • speeding up the development process in the long run;
  • identifying risks (abandoned technologies, bad architectural decisions) and performance bottlenecks;
  • identifying security-related problems and common vulnerabilities;
  • identifying scalability, maintainability, and performance issues;
  • helping with process improvements like automation and quality checks;
  • helping you avoid technical debt;
  • helping simplify and streamline the development process (faster progress with fewer blockers);
  • guiding the team on how to deal with legacy code and identifying what needs to be changed/migrated.

When can you benefit from a code audit?

Conducting a code audit should be done wisely. Performing it after each sprint would be pointless, as it would generate substantial costs and slow down development significantly. Over time, it could also draw your attention away from the actual goals that can be achieved with this QA technique.

It goes without saying that a regular code review is a must-have for every project. There’s no way of developing a product without performing it.

However, it may be difficult for you to find the best moment to conduct a code audit, since that’s a little less obvious. So below we suggest a few instances where you might want to consider it:

1. Changing your team of developers

It’s highly unlikely that a team of developers will work on the same product from start to finish. So it’s essential that the subsequent solutions improve your code, and not duplicate errors. A code audit at this point will also give you information about when you’ll be able to start working on new functionalities or if the team should focus on quality and paying off the technical debt more.

It’s important to perform a code audit when the developers get source code that they haven’t worked with before. It will help you assess the scope of your project, its general quality, and maintainability.

2. A general assessment for a possible investor

If you’re looking for an investor for your application, they will definitely want to know the condition of your code. An audit will help you prove that your program is ready to be launched and introduced to your end users. You can’t show a bad-quality code to the investor, so it’s worth taking an honest look at it and improving the code as much as possible.

3. Before the product release

Releasing the application is a key moment for every development team. Releasing it with bad-quality code may expose your application to hacker attacks and the app may not work correctly on all devices.

4. New iOS/Android release

Each version of the React Native framework has a list of supported operating system (iOS, Android) versions. Sometimes that situation requires upgrading to a new version of React Native to be compatible with the new iOS or Android.

In such cases, it’s also worth performing an audit with a full regression test suite on the new operating system version to make sure all app features work correctly and there are no stability or performance issues.

Why is it important to audit your code when changing your service provider?

Auditing the quality of your code is crucial when you hand over your project to another software house (change your service provider). It helps to assess the current codebase quality, optimize the process of software development, and make it easier to onboard new developers. So remember to gather and create the missing documentation when you still have access to the old team.

What can go wrong when you don’t perform a code audit?

Not conducting an audit on your code simply means putting its quality and security in danger. Checking the quality of your code will help you avoid the negative consequences of having poor documentation or tech debt.

What’s more, bad-quality or poorly maintained code may slow down or even impede your project development process, and bugs and security breaches might cost you clients as well as your reputation. Hence, a code audit helps you save money and avoid a product failure.

After performing a code audit and applying recommendations from it, your code is secure and up to the highest standards.

What can you expect from a React Native code audit?

The first step in any successful code audit is to make sure your app is fully functional. This involves running a test on all of the features using various devices and screen sizes with preferably both the most up-to-date and the lowest supported operating system versions. It can be done by anyone with access to the app.

Once you’ve confirmed that everything is working properly, it’s time for an in-depth look at how well each piece of code works together with other components and libraries. This requires looking closely at each aspect of every external dependency, service, and function within your project—and making sure they’re all up to par.

To see in detail how to run an examination of the React Native code in your software system, check out our step-by-step guide provided in the PDF. It’s based on real-life code audits we performed at STX Next.

It will serve as an overview of the crucial elements of the code audit and give you a general idea of how to structure the process. We’ve also included tips on how to ensure you follow the best possible practices from the very beginning.

And if you want to understand those crucial elements of the audit first, we list them below. Thanks to that, you’ll know what to expect from auditing the quality of your React Native code.

1. General assessment of the code

General evaluation of the code allows the auditor to determine whether the app’s code has been written according to the current standards.

2. Tech stack/architecture review

Getting to know the application architecture in terms of the solutions used and the prospects for their development and maintenance is crucial.

It informs the auditor of the chances that the application will work on new devices without issues or significant effort as well as the features that may cause bugs in the near future—for example, because of using abandoned libraries.

3. iOS/Android compatibility

When auditing cross-platform, native mobile applications (like those developed in React Native), it’s crucial to assess the app compatibility, since both the iOS and Android platforms have their own specific requirements that you have to bear in mind when writing the app.

Remember to always test the app at least on the newest and oldest supported versions of iOS and Android you defined. Sometimes it’s better to just completely cut off the old versions of iOS and Android instead of trying to support them, as it might be technically impossible.

You should keep the App Store and Google Play store policies in mind, too—for example, when it comes to user privacy and sensitive data processing. Both Apple and Google can remove your app if it doesn’t meet the platform guidelines.

4. Recommendations

Based on the evaluation of the code, the auditor should list the recommendations. Each recommendation should include an estimated value for the product and complexity level, so the work can be prioritized properly.

Is the code written in such a way that it needs to be heavily refactored? Can it be just corrected or does the whole thing need to be rewritten? You’ll know the answers to these questions at this point in the audit.

5. Identifying easy wins

By issuing recommendations for the code, the auditor can define activities that will visibly improve your code in no time and will be more beneficial to you in the long-term. The auditing team can also set priorities and determine whether it will be profitable to make corrections or not depending on the project’s lifecycle.

Preparing the audit in such a way allows the auditors to identify the advantages and disadvantages of a given project. They can also suggest a development path that will limit the complexity of your code.

To sum up, it’s always a good idea to have a second pair of eyes look over your code. Not only does a code audit give you confidence that everything is safe and up-to-date, but in some cases, it can actually help you:

  • meet the time-to-market deadlines,
  • preserve your budget,
  • optimize the work required on the product itself.

In short, auditing the quality of your code can save you a significant amount of stress, problems, time, and money.

Final thoughts on auditing the quality of your React Native code

We hope our article on how to audit the quality of your React Native code has helped you understand how code audits work and why a well-prepared, comprehensive auditing process is important.

If you, however, have any more questions, we once again suggest you check out our PDF on how to perform one on your own. It’s a comprehensive guide based on our real-life audit examples.

And in case you want to get your code professionally audited, we’re offering free code audits at STX Next. Click here to schedule your audit. Time’s limited!

We also recommend you read the following resources on our website—you should find them helpful:

If you’re interested in developing native, full-featured, cross-platform mobile apps with excellent UX using the full power of React Native and building a rich mobile UI from declarative components much faster—we’re here to support you in your next project.

Is there anything else we can help you with? Reach out to us with any questions you may have and we’ll get back to you in no time.