Static code analysis is a method of debugging by examining source code before running the program or simply analyzing the written codes.
Generally, it’s done by analyzing a set of code against a set (or multiple sets) of coding rules.
In the below picture(picture-1) you can see that some comments are highlighted with a yellow background color.
- Vertical Whitespace Violation
- Identifier name violation
- Trailing new line violation
These are warning messages we need to consider and make the necessary changes to have a better code. There may be more warning messages during development that might need rectification.
There might have some cases in which we need to ignore some warnings (as per business logic).
However, in an ideal scenario, it is better to have codes without warnings or error messages
You can see the below picture(picture – 2) where all the warnings have been removed.
Benefits of using Static Analysis Tools
There are 5 major benefits one can attain through the use of static analysis tools:
Deliver better quality code to ensure maximum client satisfaction. We are at that point in time where our clients are well aware of the quality, security, vulnerabilities, etc. that a particular code will have.
It is ideal and necessary to exercise due diligence during development itself to do the scan for the vulnerabilities earlier and remove it.
- Proactive issue identification
We can analyze weaknesses in source code in the earlier stages that might lead to vulnerabilities as the project advances.
Thanks to automation, static analysis is less time-consuming than manual code reviews. This helps in the quick release of versions or product features.
Testing can’t cover every possible code execution path. With status analysis, we can get an in-depth analysis of where there might be potential problems in your code, based on the rules we have applied. It leaves no room for error.
Compared to manual code reviews, automated tools are less prone to errors. They scan every line of code to identify potential problems.
Before testing begins, we can ensure the highest-quality code is in place.
That brings us to the question, at what stage should Static Code Analysis be used?
Static code analysis can be performed at any stage of development. But it is better to use from the earlier stages of development before testing begins.
How to Choose a Static Code Analysis Tool
There are several factors that go into choosing a static code analysis tool. Some of them are briefly outlined below:
- Programming language
Static code analyzers are designed for many different programming languages. Hence, you must pick the right analyzer for your application. So, it’s important to choose a tool that supports your language well.
One of the primary uses of static analyzers is to comply with industry standards. The static code analysis tools are configured to work with specific coding rules.
Some tools also give the option to extend or customize the rules. So that we can add our rules as well depending on the business requirements.
No need to spend a huge amount of time trying to configure the tool. From the demo videos or documentation of the tools, you can determine how easy it is to set up your application.
Most Popular Static Code Analysis Tools that You can Consider
Developed by Realm, SwiftLint is an open-source tool that will let you set your own coding style and conventions in Swift and implement them during development.
If finding problem patterns in your JS code is a challenge, ESLint can solve it for you. This static code analysis tool helps define and load rules that will help you ensure problems are identified early on and weeded out to ensure code quality.
Built by SonarSource, SonarQube is an open-source static code analysis tool that can perform automatic reviews across 17 programming languages.
SonarQube also has an active community of 200k dev teams from whom you can seek support and guidance to improve code quality.
Under the goodhood, Snyk is a developer security platform that seamlessly integrates into development tools, workflows, and automation pipelines.
This makes it easy to spot errors and security loopholes that can otherwise wreak havoc in the development stage.
Python being one of the most popular programming languages requires a static code analysis tool of its own, and PyLint is just that.
Pylint goodness lies in the ability to analyze the code without actually running it which actually saves a lot of time and effort.
CodeScan makes the lives of Salesforce developers easier by ensuring code quality and security.
It is a dedicated status code analysis tool for Salesforce which is one of the largest business engagement software providers.
Built by Perforce, Kockwork, as the name barely hints, is a real-time static code analysis tool. It makes it easy to conduct peer reviews of software code and helps in extending the life of complex software.
Bringing it all together
Static code analysis can help programmers save a lot of time and effort that otherwise would be lost in debugging post quality assurance.
It is a modern-day development that will help deliver better quality of code and also ensure that a project moves forward with pace.