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What are Static Analysis Tools?

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Static analysis tools are carried out on a software product in a non-runtime environment. This means that it is unnecessary to execute a program for the analysis tool to debug the software.

Through this method, code issues are detected between coding and unit testing, a feat that dynamic web scanning is incapable of doing on its own. It saves developers time as the tool pinpoints quality issues such as coding standard violations, programming errors, and security weaknesses before even running the program.

Whey every developer needs a static analysis tool?

Nowadays, development teams utilize static analysis tools to refine a piece of software quality, follow coding standards, and decrease development process times, making them more efficient. As a side effect, it also teaches developers the best coding practices since it promotes understanding of the structure of the code as well. 

Back in the day, developers had their backs hunched over manually searching for flaws in each line of software code. The task was daunting; one missed mistake could mean a pesky defect in a piece of software. But with static analysis tools to handle code reviews, a certain relief has come about from the tiresome review effort. 

How Does Static Analysis Work?

Static code analysis is typically employed during the early stages of the development process. After a developer writes his code, but before actually executing a program, the automated software tool analyzes the code to identify parts that violate standard and predefined rules.

However, the method is not flawless, as it can flag false positives after the process. Developers will still have to go through the report to dismiss these false positives. Once everything is clear, they proceed to rectify flaws in the software – starting from critical mistakes to the menial ones.

Development teams have the option to implement different types of static analysis methods: 

  • Control analysis: Control analysis focuses on the calling structure’s control flow which is the program’s order of statement, instruction, and function calls that are to be executed methodically. 
  • Data analysis: Data analysis is concerned with the proper usage of defined data as well as ensuring that data objects are functioning accordingly.
  • Fault/Failure analysis: Fault/Failure analysis is basically analyzing model components to identify faults and failures.
  • Interface analysis: Interface analysis is for authenticating simulations to check code and making sure that the interface is suitable for simulation.

Why Developers Should Start Using Static Analysis Tools

Theresa Lanowitz, Voke founder and CEO, believes that few developers utilize static analysis tools (based on a survey that claims just 15% of developers use the tools currently).

Doing manual review is dubious as it is prone to human error, and it is also very time-consuming. Static analysis tools offer huge benefits to ease software development. First, it provides early feedback to developers. Code errors are hard to manually detect. Static analysis can find them quite easily, and with accuracy. This is helpful since finding these faults saves considerable time in the development process. Also, the tools provide insights into these mistakes. 

When talking about static analysis tools, developers highlight how it makes the early development faster and more efficient. Code analysis takes time, but it’s worth the investment. The number of tools that developers allow to run for a certain time, and time going through the results of the analysis, determine the amount of time spent on static code analysis.

The rules-driven nature of the tools boosts code security as well. From house appliances to smartphones, our connected world today means that software is rather omnipresent, which is why developers are keen to improve security features. A static analysis tool is just one of the many tools that can distinguish code vulnerabilities from various perspectives.

Static analysis tools are not entirely perfect – there are things that it cannot identify such as detecting whether a software product requirements are met or fully predicting how functions in the program will be executed. In these instances, dynamic testing is required.

Even though static analysis considerably helps find faults within the software, it is still crucial to pair it with dynamic testing for optimal analysis. With these two techniques combined, processes are more efficient, development is accelerated, and high-quality products make it past the testing phase.

From a business standpoint, failure to run a program with at least one static analysis tool means releasing a faulty product that is potentially ‘insecure’ and has exploitable lines of code. This allows hackers to prey on the program, and expose confidential data for profit. The repercussions of neglecting this stage are quite serious. Employing static analysis tools is prudent as well as abiding by present standards, besides providing an improvement in the overall development process. 

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