Static code analysis: Everything you need to explore

Development teams are under pressure because the quality releases needed to be delivered on time. Also, the coding and compliance standards need to be met. Mistakes are not an option for them, due to the ongoing need of every company ever. Of all these reasons, code optimization is one of the major concerns of competent software development companies. That’s why static code analysis come to life.

Everything you need to know about static code analysis
Everything you need to know about static code analysis

This method, obviously, is used to run tests on the code to ensure code quality. Also, it provides a bundle of benefits to the software firm despite the challenges posed. Many methods can be adopted for static code analysis such as pattern-based analysis, flow analysis, and automated analysis. So now, we would like to introduce to you guys everything you need to explore when it comes to the term of static code analysis. Let’s go!

What is static code analysis?

Static code analysis definition
Static code analysis definition

This is a method of debugging by examining source code before a program is run. It’s done by analyzing a set of code against a set (or multiple sets) of coding rules. However, this type of analysis addresses weaknesses in source code that might lead to vulnerabilities. Of course, this may also through manual code reviews. But using automated tools is much more effective. It is commonly used to comply with coding guidelines.

In which stage is static code analysis perform?

Static code analysis is performed early in the development sequences before software testing begins. For organizations practicing DevOps, this takes place during the “Create” phase. Static code analysis also supports DevOps by creating an automated feedback loop. So, developers will know early on if there are any problems in their code. As a result, it will be easier to fix those problems.

Static and Dynamic code analysis

So, what’s the difference between static analysis and dynamic analysis? Both types of analyses detect defects. The big difference is where they find defects in the development lifecycle:

Dynamic and static code analysis
Static and Dynamic code analysis
  • The static analysis identifies defects before you run a program (e.g., between coding and unit testing).
  • The dynamic analysis identifies defects after you run a program (e.g., during unit testing). However, some coding errors might not surface during unit testing. So, there are defects that dynamic testing might miss that static code analysis can find.

Some benefits of this term

There are several benefits of static code analysis — especially if you need to comply with an industry standard. The best tools offer speed, depth, and accuracy. Let’s check them out!

#1. Speed

It takes time for developers to do manual code reviews. Automated tools are much faster. Static code checking addresses problems early on. And it pinpoints exactly where the error is in the code. So, you’ll be able to fix those errors faster. Plus, coding errors found earlier are less costly to fix. This is crucial for developers to get their projects done perfectly without spending a lot of time.

#2. Depth

The depth of this tool

Testing can’t cover every possible code execution path, but a static code analysis tool can. It checks the code as you work on your build. You’ll get an in-depth analysis of where there might be potential problems in your code, based on the rules you’ve applied. As a result, your code will be much more thorough, and there’ll be no need to re-test a lot of times.

#3. Accuracy

Manual code reviews are prone to human error, yet automated tools are not. They scan every line of code to identify potential problems. This helps you ensure the highest-quality code is in place — before testing begins. After all, when you’re complying with a coding standard, quality is critical for you or your developer team to get the best out for the customers.

Static code analysis limitations

Static code analysis is for a specific purpose in a specific phase of development. But there are some limitations of static analysis:

#1. Zero understanding of developer intent

 int calculateArea(int length, int width)
{
    return (length + width);
}

A static analysis tool may detect a possible overflow in this calculation. But it can’t determine that function fundamentally does not do what is expected.

#2. The possible defects that lead to false positives and negatives

So, in some situations, a tool can only report that there is a possible defect. For example:

 int divide(void)
{
    int x;
    if(foo())
    {
        x = 0;
    }
    else
    {
        x = 5;
    }
    return (10/x);
}

As a result, if we know nothing about foo(), we do not know what value x will have. The result is undecidable. That means that tools may report defects that do not actually exist (false positives). Or they may fail to report real defects (false negatives). This may lead to false decisions when using static code analysis, which can possibly cause malfunctions.

Final words

That should be it! Here is almost everything you might need to explore about static code analysis. All in all, this tool provides interesting metrics and bugs in the initial stages itself, which proves to get more efficient in coding and software development as a whole. As a result, it should help you and your business, in general, perform much better codes and build the best software development services.

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