I'm looking for a tool I can use to leave comments on a codebase without having to change the code itself. I think something like this would make it easier to have developer discussions along the lines of "Hey @dave, will this method break when we add the FooBar feature?" Ideally it'd look something like how Github lets you comment on commits and pull requests, just without the "it's a commit or pull request" restriction. Here's a few of the things I've tried and what the issues are:

  • Leaving comments in the code itself: unwieldy to read, requires making commits, doesn't work for discussions
  • Github comments: really hard to discuss code that hasn't been updated in a while, discussions are localized to PRs
  • Using a chat room or mailing list: harder to put things into context, doesn't put the discussion right next to the code

Free is preferable but more a nice-to-have than anything. This question seems to be asking a similar thing but it looks like it's about pre-merge code review tools, while I'm looking for something that lets me comment on all code in the codebase. Thanks!

  • Would gerrit ( gerritcodereview.com ) have the same problems you see with GitHub? What is the objective of the comments you wish to add to the code? as (permanent) documentation for the code or as discussion (i.e. code review) for a version of the code which would then be modified until it's an acceptable next version?
    – frozenkoi
    Dec 23, 2015 at 9:16
  • You can also consider Doxygen, which lets you add the documentation to a separate file that documents your source. ( stackoverflow.com/questions/4075653/… )
    – frozenkoi
    Dec 23, 2015 at 9:20
  • My only experience with code is with freestanding files that are basically text, none with environments like Github. With that caveat, would "printing" the code to pdf and commenting the pdf work for your needs?
    – JKEngineer
    Dec 24, 2015 at 20:14

1 Answer 1


I think that possibly Review Board would fit your needs:

  • It doesn't change the code
  • You and your team can review:
    • A change or diff
    • An existing block of code
    • An image, screenshot or part of the overall program
    • A pdf, e.g. part of the documentations Power Pack Option
  • Works with a variety of version control systems and hosts
  • Various pricing options:
    • Review Board Free & Open Source
    • Review Board with Power Pack Free for open source and educational use or up to 2 users business use.
    • Review Board hosting at RBCommons Charged for

Unless you go for the last option you will need to run your own database and RB Server which sounds a little daunting but is not as bad as it sounds.

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