RBCommons updates have moved to the Beanbag Blog

For years, we’ve been maintaining three separate blogs for our products: the RBCommons Blog, Review Board News, and the Beanbag Blog. It made sense at the time to keep these separate, but these days it’s usually more confusing than it needs to be, with release announcements and helpful guides scattered across the blogs.

We began the process of consolidating these last night, and started with merging the RBCommons Blog into the Beanbag Blog. Unfortunately, due to a glitch with our mailing list provider, an e-mail went out today covering last February’s CloudFlare-related security issue. If you received this, we’re very sorry — that shouldn’t have happened, and you don’t need to worry about some new problem affecting RBCommons.

We’ll be posting more articles here going forward, along with RBCommons updates and RBTools release announcements. We recently started a series of articles on new Review Board features that will soon make its way to RBCommons as part of a major update we’re gearing up for.

We’re also planning to move the Review Board release announcements here, so there’s exactly one place to look for everything we’re working on.

And with that, we’d like to thank you all for being such wonderful customers. Have a Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s to a great 2018 🙂

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RBCommons and Cloudflare: Don’t worry, be happy!

There was a major security breach announced this week by Cloudflare, a popular service used by millions of sites. This security breach affected customers around the world, causing passwords, API tokens, private conversations, and more to be leaked into search engines and people’s browser sessions.

You probably have a lot of passwords you’ll need to change this week, but don’t worry, RBCommons does not use Cloudflare, nor do the services RBCommons depends on. Your information is safe!

We recommend that you take the time to ensure you’re using strong, unique passwords (ideally stored in a password manager like 1Password or LastPass), and enable two-factor authentication on RBCommons to make your account even more secure.

To learn more about the Cloudflare security breach, and how it affects you, read their disclosure and see the list of sites using Cloudflare to see if you may be at risk.

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The New RBCommons is Live!

We’ve been hard at work these past few months on a major update to RBCommons. This update brings all the many improvements found in the latest version of Review Board.

 

A more refined look

New RBCommons UI

RBCommons has a new improved look. We’ve modernized the look, polishing things here and there, bringing a much fresher feel to the service. Don’t worry, though, you won’t have to relearn anything. We’ve kept everything familiar.

Along with the new look is support for mobile! You can now use RBCommons from the phone, letting you catch up on reviews and new changes while on the go. Mobile diff review isn’t there yet, but is something we hope to bring down the road.

 

Archiving/muting review requests

It’s easier now to stay on top of the review requests that really need your attention. By archiving/muting review requests, you can take control over your dashboard and help you get to Inbox Zero (or maybe Dashboard Zero).

Review requests can be archived, hiding them from the dashboard until there’s new activity. They can also be muted, hiding them completely from the dashboard until you opt into seeing them.

Learn more about archiving and muting.

 

Trivial publishes for review requests and reviews

When you’re making a small change on a review request or clarifying something small on a reply, sometimes you don’t want another e-mail to go out to your team. We’re all busy, and every e-mail we add is one more thing to look at.

RBCommons allows for trivial publishes of review requests and replies. The green draft banner for review requests and replies contains a “Send E-Mail” checkbox, checked by default. To prevent sending an e-mail to your team, just uncheck it before hitting “Publish”.

Learn more about trivial publishing.

Expandable diffs in reviews

Inline Diff Expansion

Ever want to see just a bit more of a diff when reading a review, without having to jump into the diff viewer? Now you can! Just hover over the little snippet of the diff to see the new expansion controls. From there, you can start exploring more of the diff, without ever having to leave the page.

 

Live HD thumbnails for file attachments

Thumbnails now show more of the content you want to see. They’re no longer just tiny previews of a file. Now they’re big and vibrant, and come to life when you hover the mouse over them, scrolling through the file to show you even more.

Learn more about Live HD thumbnails.

 

Revisioned file attachments

RBCommons now tracks every revision of a file you upload. Make a change to a graphic, or a PDF document? Simply update the existing file attachment by hovering over the thumbnail and choosing “Update.” Reviewers will be able to go view any revision, and for some files, they can even diff between them!

 

Diffs for text-based and image-based file attachments

Hey, we were just talking about this!

Image and text file attachments with multiple revisions can now be diffed. You’re seeing one example of this here, with a split diff of two images.

Image diffs make it easy to see how a graphic has changed over the revisions. You can view this in several different modes: Two-Up, Difference, Split, or Onion Skin modes.

Text files can be diffed as well, and this works exactly like the diff viewer.

Working with Markdown? Now only can we diff the source text, but the rendered output as well!

Learn more about diffing file attachments.

 

New review group setting to auto-add new users

Got a review group or two that you’d like everyone to be a part of, automatically? We’ve got a new option for that! Pull up the settings for a review group and toggle “Add new users by default.” Any new user you invite to your team will be automatically added to the group.

 

Browsing and posting Bitbucket commits for review on the New Review Request page

New Review Request

Bitbucket users, rejoice! You can now browse for commits in the New Review Request page. If you work in a “post-commit” model, where you push commits and then post for review, you’ll find your workflow’s just gotten a lot easier.

 

WebHooks for integrating with other services

RBCommons can now talk to third-party services and scripts through WebHooks.

WebHooks are used to notify HTTP services on certain actions (new review requests or updates, new reviews, new replies, etc.). You can use this to interface with in-house tools in response to new diffs or discussions, forwarding them on to other services or automating code reviews.

Learn more about WebHooks.

 

API Tokens for safer authentication

If you’re working with scripts or services that need to talk to Review Board, you can now create API Tokens and hand those out, instead of handing out a password. These are safer, and have the added benefit of letting you limit what can be done in that API session.

Learn more about API Tokens.

 

There’s a lot more, but those are the main feature updates. We hope you’ll like the new RBCommons. We know we’ve been looking forward to using it for a long time now.

If you have any questions or hit any problems, you can reach out to us through the “Need help?” button (bottom-right of any page on RBCommons), or e-mail us at support@beanbaginc.com.

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Introducing new special user permissions

As a team grows, it often becomes the case that more developers need to assume more specialized roles in the code review process. Not just that of developer and reviewer, but also that of a manager of sorts, helping to keep the review process going and to keep the process tidy.

We’re introducing a few new special user permissions, designed to give users a subset of an administrator’s abilities. These can all be set in the Team Administration page by clicking the pencil icon next to team member.

 

 

The first permission, “Can close or reopen review requests from other users,” enables a user to help keep the list of review requests tidy by toggling whether a review request is currently open. If you’re not auto-closing review requests, if you have review requests open from former team members, or if you’re managing an open source project on RBCommons, this can be quite handy.

The second permission, “Can edit review requests from other users,” allows a user to modify a review request on someone else’s behalf. They can upload diffs, edit fields, and so on. The changes currently appear as if they’re from the owner of the review request.

The final permission, “Can post review requests as other users,” is most useful for scripts. In cooperation with RBTools (using rbt post –submit-as), a script can post a review request on another user’s behalf, perhaps when a change is committed to a special branch, or after a sandbox operation passes.

We’ve been piloting these permissions with some projects for a while now. Please let us know how they work for you, and if you have any questions or problems.

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An effective RBTools workflow for Git

One of the beautiful things about Git is that you have so many ways of making it work for you. This is also one of the frightening things about Git, particularly if you’re just starting out. There’s loads of documentation and blog posts covering all the ways you can use Git to manage your code or shoot yourself in the foot.

A question we’re often asked is how Git is supposed to be used with Review Board or RBCommons.

“How should I post changes,” they ask. “How should I land them?”

“Well,” we say, “that’s up to you… but here’s how we do it.”

One branch per review request

Branches in Git are pretty great. They’re light-weight, and you can really choose when and how to use them.

What we like to do is have one branch for every review request we’re still working with. Maybe they’re branching off of master, or maybe off of another change you have up for review… doesn’t matter.

Create the branch, and create as many commits on it as you want. You’re going to post these all for review under one review request. For our example, we’ll use 2 commits.

$ git checkout -b my-branch-1 master
$ vim foo.py
$ git commit -a
$ vim bar.py
$ git commit -a

Now let’s create another branch off of that, and make one commit here. This will be for your second review request.

$ git checkout -b my-branch-2
$ vim foo.py
$ git commit -a

Your tree now looks like this:

o [my-branch-2]
|
o [my-branch-1]
|
o
|
o [master] [origin/master]
|

Great, let’s post!

We’ll post that first change for review (my-branch-1). Since it’s based off of origin/master, this will be easy (since by default, that’s what’s diffed against). We just post like so:

$ git checkout my-branch-1
$ rbt post
Review request #1001 posted.

https://reviewboard.example.com/r/1001/
https://reviewboard.example.com/r/1001/diff/

Excellent. If you go to that first URL, you’ll see your summary and description filled in from your commit messages. You can edit these to your liking.

If your server has any default reviewers set up, they’ll be assigned. You might also want to fill in some bug, add some testing information. Do whatever you want to do there and publish the review request.

Now sit back and relax and… oh wait, you have a second change ready for review! Thanks to Git and RBTools, you don’t have to wait on that. Let’s post that one too.

$ rbt post my-branch-1..my-branch-2
Review request #1002 posted.

https://reviewboard.example.com/r/1002/
https://reviewboard.example.com/r/1002/diff/

What you’re doing here is posting all the commits on my-branch-2 that were made since my-branch-1. No need to push my-branch-1 first, or really worry about it in any way.

You’ll probably want to set the Depends On field to point to your other review request, as a hint to any reviewers deciding which to review first.

Oh, here’s some short-hand. If you’re already on my-branch-2, you can make use of HEAD instead of spelling out my-branch-2. In this case, this branch only has one commit, so you could also leave out my-branch1... All of these are therefore equivalent:

$ rbt post HEAD
$ rbt post my-branch-1..HEAD
$ rbt post my-branch-1..my-branch-2

This is probably familiar to you if you’re used to Git. You can use any Git SHA/tag/branch/revision range you want when calling rbt post.

Note: If you’re posting against a remote branch other than origin/master, you’ll need to either pass --tracking-branch=myremote/mybranch on any RBTools command, or set TRACKING_BRANCH = "myremote/mybranch" in .reviewboardrc. The remote must match the configured repository on Review Board.

Need to make some changes? -u to the rescue!

So someone found a flaw in your otherwise perfect code. Happens to the best of us. In both review requests, you say? Okay, we’ll let that slide for now.

Let’s update the first change. Lots of options here. You can make a new commit with the fixes, or you can amend the commit.

If it’s just a fix made in a previously un-pushed commit, we like to amend. Your choice.

$ git checkout my-branch-1
$ vim bar.py
$ git commit -a --amend
$ rbt post -u
Review request #1001 posted.

https://reviewboard.example.com/r/1001/
https://reviewboard.example.com/r/1001/diff/

Now on to the second. We’ll probably want the latest from my-branch-1 as well, so we can rebase or merge. We like to rebase when this stuff is still in flux and not yet pushed, and we like to merge when the history starts to matter (that is, when the code is in some kind of decent, landable shape).

Again, your call.

$ git checkout my-branch-2
$ git rebase my-branch-1
$ vim foo.py
$ git commit -a --amend
$ rbt post -u HEAD
Review request #1002 posted.

https://reviewboard.example.com/r/1002/
https://reviewboard.example.com/r/1002/diff/

The -u flag updates an existing review request that matches your commit message. If you’ve modified the summary or description in any way, it may prompt you for any review requests that mostly match. Just say yes or no.

Great, publish those changes. Eventually the code will be perfect.

Got your “Ship It!”? Time to land!

RBTools 0.7 and higher comes with a nifty little command, rbt land. This command takes a branch, verifies that it’s been reviewed, and lands the changes.

Let’s land both of your branches, one after the other.

$ git checkout master
$ rbt land --dest=master --push my-branch-1
$ rbt land --dest=master --push my-branch-2

This will verify that my-branch-1 is approved (at least one “Ship It!” and no open issues). It will then merge my-branch-1 into master, push it, and delete the old branch. Then it’ll verify, merge, push, and delete my-branch-2.

Each branch you land will be merged into master, with a merge commit containing the summary, description, bug numbers, and review request URL. If you want to instead squash each branch into a single commit on master, you can use --squash.

You can use --dry-run to see what will happen without actually changing your tree. Useful when you first start off.

You can also edit the commit message using --edit, or leave out --push if you don’t want to push the branch, or add --no-delete-branch if you don’t want to delete the branches. You can also set the default branch to land into. The documentation goes into all the options that are available.

Closing out landed review requests

We like to set up our review requests to auto-close when pushing commits. This is designed to work with rbt land.

When you land a change, the commit message will contain a line saying something like:

Reviewed at https://reviewboard.example.com/r/1001/

The auto-close hooks will see that and automatically close your review request, so you don’t have to.

And that’s how we do it.

There’s really a lot of options here. Some people push changes and then use the web UI to post them for review. Some people generate their own diffs and upload them. Some like to merge their own branches.

That’s all a lot of work, though. Our method give us:

  • Nice code organization, since every review request has its own dedicated branch.
  • Fast posting and updating of review requests.
  • Less mess. No extra branches sticking around, and review requests are automatically closed.
  • Confidence that every landed change has been approved. No slip-ups with pushing the wrong branch.

Give it a try!

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Auto-close review requests when pushing commits

Happy new year, everyone! Hope your holidays were fun and relaxing, with great company and wonderful memories. Mine certainly was, and now I’m back with some more tips and tricks to help you get the most out of Review Board and RBCommons.

Last time, we discussed some tips for getting the most out of your Review Board dashboard. This time, let’s talk about how to keep your dashboard clean by automatically closing review requests when pushing changes.

Introducing the post-commit hook

Post-commit hooks are a feature supported by many types of repositories and code hosting services. They allow you to execute custom code when pushing a commit, which is useful for kicking off a build, updating a website, or, in our case, closing a review request.

For self-hosted repositories, this is usually a script that you drop in a directory. This script can talk to Review Board through the RBTools API.

For repositories hosted on services like GitHub or Bitbucket  these are often set up as URLs that the service can POST to. Review Board 2.0+ have some convenient URLs just for this purpose. We’ll talk about these first.

Configuring auto-close for GitHub and Bitbucket

If you’re running Review Board 2.0.7 or higher, we’ve made it very easy to get set up. Simply log into your administration UI and click Repositories. You should see a [Hooks] link beside any GitHub or Bitbucket repositories. Click it, and you’ll get exact instructions on how to get set up.

Do this for every repository you care about. Then, whenever you’re going to push a commit, make sure it has this line in the commit message:

Reviewed at <review request url>

Where, of course, the <review request url> is the full URL to the review request page. The hook will see that line, and close the matching review request for you, complete with information on the commit ID and the branch it landed on.

The upcoming RBTools 0.7 release will make it very easy to include this automatically with a couple new commands. We’ll cover these in a new post once that release is out.

One important caveat: These services need to be able to talk to your server. That means if you’re behind a firewall, you must grant access to these services and forward a port. If you’re on RBCommons, this won’t be a problem, though. And if you’re a GitHub user, look into using GitHub Enterprise with Power Pack for Review Board  for a much more secure code hosting solution.

Configuring auto-close for custom Git repositories

Custom repositories are a bit trickier, because you need a custom script for your setup.

If you’re running Git, we have a script just for you! All you have to do is fill in some of the details in the script, rename it to post-receive, and drop it into your official Git repository’s hooks directory.

Not running Git? Unfortunately, there’s some work you’ll need to do for now. We’re working on some new scripts for Subversion and Mercurial, but if you feel up to it, you can put together your own post-commit hook, based on ours. All the communication is taken care of for you by RBTools.

Speaking of RBTools

We’re gearing up for a major RBTools release, with the goal of shipping it this week. If all goes according to plan, we’ll be back next week with an overview of the new features, and how they’ll help you get your code posted and landed faster than ever.

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A new batch of feature and performance improvements

Tonight, we’ve released a huge set of bug fixes and feature improvements for RBCommons that should improve your code review experience.

Faster performance

We’ve fine-tuned many parts of RBCommons to give you a faster experience.

Editing Markdown text should now feel as fast as editing plain text. The lag that would sometimes appear has been fixed.

The dashboard now loads a lot faster when using the People, Groups, or To Me columns.

We’ve also improved performance in our API. RBTools and various operations on the site should be much faster now.

Markdown improvements

Markdown is now completely optional. By default, all text fields on review requests and comments on reviews will be in Markdown mode, as before. However, you’ll now be able to turn off Markdown while editing, saving as plain text.

You can also choose to disable Markdown by default for all fields in your My Account page. Simply uncheck “Always use Markdown for text fields.”

Note that if Markdown is enabled by default, then all fields will start off editing in Markdown mode. Any plain text will be escaped first.

Along with this, we’ve fixed a number of escaping and rendering problems with Markdown text, particularly for text coming from a commit.

Better clipboard support in the diff viewer

The diff viewer now supports selecting and copying the text within either column in the diff viewer, without that selection covering code from the other column.

Previously, selecting worked like it did for any table in a web page, in that the selection would span both columns, making it impossible to get the text out cleanly. With this new support, you can safely copy a block of text from the original or modified file and paste it into your editor.

Better e-mail control

We’ve reduced how much e-mail you’ll receive in certain cases. For instance, if a review request is updated to add new reviewers, without altering any other fields or introducing a new diff, only the new reviewers will be notified of the update.

We’ve also introduced an option to let you opt out of any e-mails triggered by your own actions. To opt out, head over to the My Account page and uncheck “Get e-mail notifications for my own activity.”

Numerous bug fixes

We’ve fixed nearly 40 bugs across the site, covering issues with repository compatibility, diff generation, usability, e-mail notifications, and more.

 

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4 powerful tips for your Review Board dashboard

The dashboard. It’s the very first thing you’ll typically see when you log into Review Board. Outside of review requests and the diff viewer, you’ll spend most of your time here – but are you getting the most out of it?

Did you know that you could close several review requests at once? Or see which review requests were specifically assigned to you, or the number of lines added/removed in each diff, or the bugs addressed, all at a glance? How about being able to keep track of activity on groups you’re not a part of?

Let’s go through some of the ways you can make the dashboard work better for you.

1. Choosing what information to display

Available columns

Take a look at the top-right of the dashboard, at the very last column. See that pencil icon? If you click it, you’re going to see a list of all the columns you can put on your dashboard. You can turn some on, turn others off.

Depending on how old your account is, you may be using an older default set of columns, meaning you’re really missing out on some handy columns.

Here are my favorites:

  • Diff Size, newly introduced in 2.0 and on RBCommons, takes the latest diff on the review request and shows the number of lines added and removed. This gives me a good idea as to how long a review may take.
  • My Comments is a default now, but it wasn’t always. This displays a handy icon showing if you’ve already reviewed a change, if that review is still a pending draft, and whether you’ve said Ship It! Super helpful for sorting through your workload.
  • Select Rows, also introduced in 2.0 and on RBCommons, adds a little checkbox for selecting review requests. Selecting one or more lets you perform actions, which we’ll go into below.
  • Ship It! is your way of knowing if reviewers have deemed a change ready to ship, or if there’s any issues to resolve (on 2.0+ and on RBCommons). Green checkmark for Ship It, and yellow exclamation point for issues to resolve. If you don’t have this column, add it now!
  • Starred lets you click to star/unstar a review request. Starring is a way to keep tabs on the activity on a review request you’re not assigned to, CCing you on all e-mails and making the review request quick to find in the dashboard.
  • To Me simply displays a little indicator (») for any review request directly assigned to you. Usually a good place to start when deciding what to review.

Here’s how my dashboard looks:

Dashboard with extra columns

2. Reorder your columns

Okay, now you have some new columns, and they’re all shoved to the right of the dashboard. That’s probably not where you want them. That’s okay, we can fix that.

You can re-order columns by simply clicking and dragging the column header. Move it where you want it, and the dashboard will remember.

Reordering Columns

 

I like placing all the little icons (Starred, My Updates, Ship It!, My Comments, and To Me) toward the left, right before the summary. Play around, see what works for you. Go nuts.

3. Sort your columns

You now have a lovely set of columns exactly where you want them. There’s some timestamps in there, maybe the repository or branch names. Now’s a good time to learn about sorting.

Certain columns can sort their data. Most anything with text, like Summary, Branch, or Last Updated, can be sorted. When you click a column, it’ll sort in ascending order. Click again to sort in descending. Click the “X” to unsort that column.

Sorting Columns

 

There are two levels of sorting. Click a second column, and everything will be sorted by that. If two rows have the same data for that column, then they’ll be sorted by the previously clicked column.

To prioritize changes going into a release, click Last Updated and then Branch. You’ll quickly be able to see review requests grouped by branch, then sorted by when they were last updated.

4. Close many review requests at once

Is your dashboard getting a bit messy? Did you forget to close a bunch of old review requests, and just hate the thought of going through and dealing with them one-by-one? Or maybe you’re an administrator and someone just left the company with a mess to deal with.

Remember that Select Rows column from before? It gives you a nice little checkbox for each review request. When you start clicking those checkboxes, the dashboard’s sidebar will begin to give you a summary of the review requests, along with options to close them all at once. You can discard them, or mark them as submitted into the codebase.

Dashboard batch operations

In one go, you can clear away dozens of review requests, making everyone else on the team very thankful, and completely in your debt.

Speaking of…

Happy Holidays!
Next time, we’re going to talk about how to keep your dashboard squeaky clean, without micromanaging review requests. You’ll learn how you can put an end to messy dashboards once and for all.

In the meantime, Happy Holidays everyone!

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Review everything, not just code

Code review is a staple in many engineering cultures. The benefits to putting your code up for your teammates to scrutinize and critique are numerous. There’s the satisfaction of showing off your work to your peers and the comfort in knowing that any obvious flaws or bad design choices will be caught before they affect others.

Unfortunately, code review is often where thorough review ends for many teams. UI changes, mockups, PRDs, documentation, release notes, icons, and other visual components critical to a project are not always as closely inspected, or at least are not done so as part of the existing code review process. By leaving these out, or doing them out-of-band (e-mail, in-person reviews), or even by going through entirely separate tools, there’s the risk of missing and tracking valuable feedback.

Through Review Board and Power Pack, you can review those just as easily as code. No new tools to learn, no loosely tracked discussions. Here’s how.

File attachments on Review Board

In Review Board, you can attach any type of file to a review request and review.

There’s built-in support for general text-based file attachments, Markdown files, and images. Extensions can supplement that with support for reviewing additional file types, like PDF. Unsupported binary files can still be reviewed by downloading the file and then leaving a comment on it.

All you need to do to attach files is to drag them (as many or as few as you want) from your file manager right onto any new or existing review request.

Or, if you’re a command line junkie like I am, check out tip #3 on our 5 tips for RBTools.

You’ll be able to try these yourself on our demo page.

Reviewing screenshots, icons, and other images

If you’re developing a UI for your application, make sure your fellow engineers or your usability team sees it before your QA team or users do.

Take a screenshot, or two, or a dozen. Show off all the changes you made, the new dialogs, the icon updates. Upload them as part of your code change so that your reviewers can see the impact of your code. Your reviewers will then be able to go through your screenshots and review them just like source code.

Reviewing images is easy. Simply click-and-drag over an area of the image, like you’re selecting it. A comment window will pop up (just like for code). Enter some text and save it. When the review is published, you’ll see that section of the image in the review, and discussion can begin.

Image Review

Reviewing plain text files

As developers, we love plain text. We have one-off bits of test code not fit for the tree, we have log files, development notes, test runs. All kinds of things that your reviewers may find useful when looking at your code.

So post them.

Reviewers will see a nice display of the text similar to what they’d see in the diff viewer. If Review Board recognizes the file type, it’ll even syntax highlight it for you, which is great for files like XML.

Text Review

Reviewing Markdown files

Markdown is a pretty popular way to write rich, formatted text in the comfort of your 1970s text editor. I’m using it right now to write this post, in fact, and you may be using it for your documentation or Wiki pages.

During review, we automatically render your Markdown so that you can see how it looks. Reviewers can leave comments right on the rendered copy or on the raw Markdown text.

Want to see this in action? Check out our demo.

Markdown Review

Reviewing PDFs or other documents

Product managers and doc writers generally aren’t writing Markdown or code. They’re working in Word, Excel, Power Point, or something more specialized. When they want a review of the latest PRD or section of the manual, they probably just e-mail it out to you, and you probably e-mail them back some replies. Yuck.

Instead, convince management and your doc writers to export their documents as PDF, and then upload them to Review Board. If you have Power Pack installed, or you’re an RBCommons subscriber on a Medium plan or higher, you’ll be able to read through the PDF and comment on any part of it.

This works very similarly to screenshot commenting. Click-and-drag to select a region, and leave a comment. That section will appear along with your comment in the review, just like with code or screenshots.

It’s a much better way of tracking all the feedback around the design or documentation of your product.

You can see what PDF review is like over on our demo page.

PDF Document Review

So in conclusion…

Review all the things!

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5 Tips for your RBTools workflow

If you’re a Review Board or RBCommons user, you’re probably familiar with RBTools, our handy set of command line tools for working with Review Board. (If you’re not using RBTools, I’m going to tell you how to get started with it in a bit.)

You’re probably most familiar with rbt post, or post-review in older versions. This is the tool that helps you quickly get a change onto Review Board, or to update an existing review request. It’s pretty handy, but how much do you really know about it? Or about the other commands included with RBTools? (Yes, there are others!)

I’m going to show you five of my favorite tips and tricks for RBTools that you may not know about.

5. Opening a browser after posting with rbt post -o

When you run rbt post, you usually get something like this:

$ rbt post
Review request #123 posted.

https://reviewboard.example.com/r/123/
https://reviewboard.example.com/r/123/diff/

Those links for opening the review request or diff are useful, but you can save yourself a step by having RBTools open your browser for you. Just pass -o to rbt post, like so:

$ rbt post -o

Your browser of choice will open, ready for editing. Want to do that automatically, every time? Add this to your .reviewboardrc in your home directory:

OPEN_BROWSER = True

4. Check your open review requests with rbt status

At some point or another, you’ll want to see what review requests you have open, either as a draft or currently pending review. I myself need to do this at times to help me remember if I’ve already posted something for review.

Sure, you could dig through the dashboard and check. That works great, but it means leaving the command line. That’s where the rbt status command comes in:

$ rbt status
   r/6676 - Add release notes for Review Board 2.0.12.
   r/6258 - Add release notes for Review Board 2.1 beta 1.

rbt status will show you all open review requests for the current repository – their IDs and their summaries. Pass --all and it’ll show you all open review requests across all repositories.

3. Attach files to review requests with rbt attach

Review Board makes it pretty easy to drag-and-drop files onto a review request in order to quickly upload them, but it does mean having the file manager and web page open. If you’re a command line junkie like me, you’d probably rather avoid that as much as possible.

rbt attach will let you upload a file to a review request with a single command. Just give it the review request ID, the file to upload, and an optional caption, and you’re done.

Let’s try it.

$ rbt attach 123 screenshot.png
Uploaded screenshot.png to review request 123.

Want to give it a caption?

$ rbt attach --caption "UI screenshot" 123 screenshot.png

2. Apply a review request’s diff to your tree with rbt patch

If you’re an open source developer, or you like to thoroughly test other people’s patches as part of reviewing their code, then this tip is for you.

rbt patch pulls down the latest patch (or a specified revision) from a review request and applies it to your tree. It can even create a commit for that patch, if using Git or Mercurial, by running rbt patch -c.

$ rbt patch -c 123
Changes committed to current branch.

We use this when accepting contributions from our own Review Board server. After a thorough review, we run rbt patch -c, edit the commit message as appropriate, and push it.

As a bonus, this will append a Reviewed at <url> line to the bottom of the commit message. If you’re using repository hooks to auto-close review requests (admins, see the “Hooks” link next to a repository in the administration UI), pushing this commit will take care of closing that out for you.

1. Easily update review requests with rbt post -u

If you’ve been using RBTools for a good long while, you’re probably used to passing -r <ID> to rbt post, in order to tell it which review request to update. This means having to look up the ID and making sure you don’t type it wrong.

In RBTools 0.6 or newer, we have a much simpler solution. Just pass -u. RBTools will automatically find a matching review request, asking if it’s not completely sure it’s a match, and update it for you. Let’s compare:

$ rbt post -r 123

vs.

$ rbt post -u

It’s much nicer. Get in the habit of using -u. It’s the wave of the future.

What if I’m not using RBTools?

Use it!

Seriously, RBTools is the best way to get the most out of Review Board. You can follow our installation instructions to get started. We’ll soon be announcing new installers to make this easier.

Learn more

The RBTools documentation is a great resource. You can learn about all the RBTools commands, our Python API for interfacing with Review Board, configuration options, and more.

We’ll be posting a new batch of tips and tricks for RBTools soon, plus some advanced Git and Review Board tips.

If you’re not already on our mailing list, subscribe today to keep up with the latest releases, tips, and strategies.

And now, we’d like to leave you with this:

Isn't it cute?

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