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Everything You Need To Know About Static Code Analysis

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At Codacy, we know that testing your code is one of the most important parts of the entire software development life-cycle. That’s why in building our product we emphasize static code analysis (SCA), or static analysis, a method we use to run tests on your code to ensure code quality.

You may not be familiar with either term if you’re a beginning developer or need to brush up on your knowledge. However, in this article we’ll take you through the basics of static analysis. We’ll discuss what it is all about and why it’s such an important part of modern code review tools.

Static And Dynamic Code Analysis

In discussing code review, it’s important to differentiate between the two most popular ways to review code. Below we discuss both static and dynamic code analysis.

Static Analysis

On the one hand, there’s static code analysis, a way for developers to test their code without actually executing it — this is called a non-run-time environment. Static code analysis tools offer an incredibly efficient way to find programming faults and display them to software engineers. With it, errors can be picked up long before they end up causing havoc when the code is released or put live on a server. Static analysis is generally considered the more thorough way to analyze code. It also has the potential to be the more economical option. Identifying code errors in early stages means that they are typically less expensive to fix than errors that become stuck in the system.

Dynamic Analysis

Then there’s dynamic code analysis, a way to test code while it’s being executed on a real or virtual processor. It’s especially effective for finding subtle defects or vulnerabilities because it looks at the code’s interaction with other databases, servers, and services.

However, dynamic analysis comes with some important caveats. For example, it will only find faults in the specific excerpt of the code that’s being executed – not the entire codebase. On the other hand, some errors not found by static analysis would show up clearly in a dynamic test, especially those related to parts of the source code that rely on external services.

To achieve the highest possible level of test coverage, it’s recommended to combine the two methods. Together, static and dynamic code analysis is often referred to as ‘glass-box testing’, because of their ability to have a peek inside the ‘box’ that’s the codebase.

Automate Code review With Static Code Analysis

Although static code analysis can be done manually, it can take extensive time dealing with large amounts of code. Even with access to a large development teams for peer review the results are more prone to error and false positives.

Fortunately, automated tools exist to help. Automated analysis is a much faster and easier way to consistently check your code for errors. It’s also more accessible because it doesn’t rely on the developer to have a deep knowledge that’s required to perform a proper code analysis. Instead, it combines a large, predefined set of common and less-common errors with intelligent algorithms to efficiently track them down. This way, a great tool offering automated static code analysis is able to find certain bugs in a matter of seconds. This, however, would take a human auditor hours or days.

When the source code analysis is complete, the software then gives comprehensive feedback by displaying all security flaws, code style violations and other metrics to the user. This creates an actionable overview for the engineer, who can immediately get to work on fixing their mistakes.

A Modern Code Review Tool For Automated Static Code Analysis

codacy dashboard with graphs and code issues indicators
Codacy Static Analysis Tool

Automated static code analyzers can be incredibly powerful tools. They enable developers to write better code that’s free of security vulnerabilities, works without a hitch, is up to coding standards and respects best practices.

Codacy

Codacy is a cutting-edge static analysis tool that’s trusted by thousands of developers at world-class companies like Adobe and PayPal. It offers all the benefits of automated reviews, wrapped up in a platform that’s as elegant as it is powerful. With customizable code analysis, intelligent project quality evaluation, extensive feedback on your code and easy integration in your existing workflow, it offers a comprehensive suite of automated tools for programmers that care about shipping top-notch code in any programming language. Give it a spin today by signing up for a free trial.


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