Static Code Analysis in a Nutshell

Static Code Analysis in a Nutshell

If you’re looking to reduce the amount of downstream work added to the project, the best you can do is check for errors and fix them as early and often as possible using defect tracking tools.

In software development, we often take an approach of trying to test quality into a product through functional or unit testing rather than engineering better software in the first place. Employing static analysis is the simplest and most effective response to the challenge of building more quality into your software from the beginning. It can be performed by software engineers to harden code and prevent defects using defect tracking tools while accelerating application delivery.

What is a Static Code Analysis?

Static code analysis is a testing activity in which the code is analyzed for constructs known to be associated with software errors. Upon detection of a high-risk construct, a violation is reported by the static analysis tool. There are several types of static analysis, each with its own set of weaknesses and strengths.

Pattern-Based Static Analysis

The pattern-based analysis looks for mistake patterns in the code and reports them as possible errors. Some of the patterns are simple syntax checkers, similar to a spell-checker when writing. Other patterns can be much more sophisticated. The analysis of this kind rarely suffers from false positives.

Flow Analysis

Flow analysis which is also known as data-flow or control-flow analysis is somewhat different. It checks for problematic constructions against a ruleset while simulating decision paths to root out hard-to-find defects by digging deeper into the application. Flow analysis is great at finding real bugs; however, a certain number of false positives are inevitable.

Benefits of Automated Static Analysis

The benefits of running static analysis on desktop or a small team or project are undeniable; however, large organizations also require static analysis to be automated as a part of continuous integration and nightly builds. The static analysis provides several benefits when it’s implemented as an integral part of the development process. Following are some of those:

Faster Development Cycle

Running static analysis consistently from the initial stages of the projects allows you to find and fix defects at low remediation costs. Although this process may take more time than software development without running analysis, it pays off in the form of increased efficiency. Keep in mind that it may be difficult to address some of the more dangerous errors. Therefore, finding them early is crucial.

Lower Defect Rate

Finding and fixing bugs early means that the recurrence of systemic defects downstream can be prevented. With this, the policy of defect prevention can be easily implemented, helping you to reduce the defect rate over the development lifecycle.

Conclusion

Apart from being the mechanism for the feedback loop, the automated static analysis also generates the data that other departments require to effectively collaborate under the DevOps model. The static analysis serves the following roles, especially when used with regression and unit testing:

  • Ensures quality of the code
  • Provides the big data needed to improve the process of development
  • Facilitates the machinations of the automated feedback loop of DevOps

This makes static analysis an agent for automated, continuous process improvement.

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