Pull requests: Prior comments should be easier to see while reviewing current version

Issue #16774 closed
Steve Fisher
created an issue

Currently it's difficult to view prior comments together with the current version of a file while reviewing a pull request.

If you add some comments and then a new version of the file is committed, you can only view those comments via the button called "[N] prior comments" at the top of the file.

Use Case:

  • As a pull request reviewer, I want to see comments left on prior versions of a file and compare to the current version to see if the comments have been addressed. I need to be able to see prior comments and the current version simultaneously, as easily and quickly as possible. I must be able to scroll around in the current version, without losing sight of the prior comments.

Problems:

  1. The prior comments are displayed in a modal popup dialog, and you can't easily see the current version of the file beneath it;
  2. You can't move the dialog out of the way, and can't even scroll the main window to see different lines of code.
  3. This makes it difficult to review pull requests having multiple iterations of changes to a single file.
  4. As a result, it's easy for old comments to get forgotten and they can end up not being addressed, resulting in the need for additional pull requests.

Suggested Improvements:

As a workaround, I usually have to open two browser windows for the same pull request, one for viewing the current version, and the other for viewing the Activity stream (which includes prior comments). This is a cumbersome way to work. I think it could be improved significantly.

A UI design that IMO is significantly better than Bitbucket is how comments work in Google Sheets. You click the comments icon in the top right corner, which opens a list of all the comments. You can interact with the comments, but you still have full access to view/scroll/edit the sheet. When you click a comment it takes you directly to the location in the sheet.

(Also, you can Resolve or Re-open individual comments -- this would be a great feature for Bitbucket.)

I'd like to see Bitbucket improve this functionality to make code reviews easier. The current implementation is difficult, inefficient, and frustrating to use. We need a solution where you can view comments on prior versions and still work with the current version, without resorting to a kludgy hack of opening multiple windows for the same PR.

Comments (2)

  1. Alastair Wilkes staff

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for the thoughtful feedback. Your request makes total sense - it's important to be able to verify that comments have been addressed. We put these comments in a modal because they are comments on lines that don't exist in the diff anymore (so we can't scroll you to the location), but I agree that putting them in a modal makes them hard to cross-reference with the current diff.

    When we ship #14889 (iterative reviews) you will be able to step through a PR commit-by-commit (or only see changes since you last reviewed), which should drastically alleviate this problem, so I'm going to close this in reference of that for now. We'll keep this problem in mind as we design that feature, though -- we don't want you to have to open two tabs to review a PR!

    (Also see #6535 for resolvable comments).

    Thanks,
    Alastair
    Product Manager, Bitbucket

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