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Your Static Code Analysis Guide

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Errors – A word that is not so peaceful in the world of developers and software development. So, without any doubt, developers work hard to overcome these errors as well as find methods to eliminate them even before they occur. We are here to help you regarding one of those methods. This guide will cover every significant perspective regarding Static Code Analysis. 

Let’s start!

What and when should I do Static Code Analysis?

Static means ‘non-executing’, and analysis means ‘examination’. Static analysis is the process of finding and fixing the errors in source code before running it.

This process of static analysis was majorly dependent on human-skills, but today, we can find several tools that automate this process. Many compilers come in hand with the integrated static analysis tools, making it easier for you.

As a developer, you should know the types of static analysis, which are as follows:

  1. Analysis of Data: The method of assessing the behavior of data in the dynamic state though it remains in the static one.
  2. Analysis of Interface: It deals with approaching the source code concerning the standards of making it function effectively for the required interface.
  3. Analysis of Faults: The process of detecting the faults or failures in the components of a model.
  4. Analysis of Control: It deals with the aspect of ensuring the proper flow of data in control structures.

The static analysis of code takes place before the testing phases. The testing here signifies the unit testing. It allows you to have instant feedback on the code, which enables you to understand if/how many errors you have and the time it will take to solve them. This provides visibility and awareness, and can prevent technical debt from rising, and consequently the costs and ramifications coming from it. 

What are the benefits?

Knowing the purpose of any method or process is a significant aspect. You can see below how can static code analysis assist you in your development process:

  • It gives you instant feedback which is always a helpful aspect when it comes to coding.
  • It allows you to find and fix the programming errors in your source code.
  • Allows you to enforce quality standards to your code, in a particular programming language.
  • The static analysis explores and detects all sorts of variables that are undefined.
  • Assists you in pointing out the vulnerabilities in your code concerning the security of data. 
  • Allows you to ensure that you don’t violate any of the coding standards.

Why Not?

Well, static code analysis plays a significant role in the development environment, but it also holds some shortcomings. The shortcomings of static code analysis include:

  • Method of Static Analysis does not cover every single aspect of your code quality: 
    1. It may not detect all the possible sets of faults or vulnerabilities in your source code with a hundred percent guarantee.
    2. It does not assist you in external parts of your development process that may include setting up user guides, code description, and the style of code. Also, it may not ensure the detection of the violation of all the coding standards. 
    3. It does not help you with the detection of logical errors in your code.
  • The technique does not handle the analysis of additional libraries. 
  • Static analysis may detect some false positives (detecting parts of the code as weak or as faulty when they are not). 

All in all, there are few flaws to this method, but the fact is that the benefits of it outweigh the demerits substantially.

How?

The process of static analysis is simple, yet significant. It’s a simple four-step process: 

Write

Execute

Resolve

Repeat

Write your source code.  Execute the static code analysis tool you are using. It will detect the errors or vulnerabilities in your code. Resolve those errors according to the syntax and standards. Repeat. (Well, development is always a continuous process).

 

Yup, that’s a Codacy t-shirt 😎

 

Choosing the right static analysis tool:

Another significant point here is how to choose the right analysis tool for your source code. Take a look at the following three questions, any analysis tool that satisfies the three of them, can be the right tool for you:

  1. Does it provide analysis on the programming language being used by you?
  2. Does the cost of the tool fit in your budget?
  3. Can this tool be customized and adapted to the coding standards of your organization? 

There can be some additional questions like; Does it depicts your code health quantitatively? Does it allow the integration with platforms like GitHub, Bitbucket or GitLab? etc. But these all depend on the detailed specification of your code.

Bonus Point: Why Us?

Above, we have outlined the significance of static code analysis in the development process. This is meaningful for us, as we, at Codacy, are constantly seeking to provide developers with the most complete code static analysis tool. Let’s answer some of your questions right away:

  • Do you provide code analysis for my programming language?

Our tool covers the code analysis of over 30 programming languages. It helps customers get compliant with coding guidelines such as HIPAA, SOC2, MISRA, ISO 26262

  • Does the code analysis by Codacy follow my coding standards?

The tool evaluates projects in 4 pillars: issues, complexity, duplicate code, and coverage, besides being able to check security status. You can configure and tailor to the rules and coding standards of your organization, enforcing the code quality settings you intend to have. For example, if a Pull Request is not up to standards, Codacy blocks the merge automatically, preventing issues to enter your master branch. The tool develops security best practices and frameworks, mapped to OWASP Top 10, SANS Top 25. (source)

  • Does Codacy provide integration with Git providers? 

We can review any pull request and commit from GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket to provide you with the quality checks. You can see the comments and code quality grades that Codacy reports, directly from your Git provider, without having to open our tool. This means that you don’t have to leave the platform, thus it doesn’t interrupt your workflow. 

  • But, does it fit my budget?

We sponsor and support many OSS projects and this is why we offer our tool for free for OSS projects. If you are an OSS user feel free to create an account and start doing static code analysis with our tool. You can create an account here.

For private and enterprise plans, we provide you with a ton of features at a very nominal cost. This will depend on the size of your team, and the level of support needed. All you have to do is to reach out to us, and our team will handle the rest.

Find us here. Our team is always on its toes to provide you with the best.

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