If you’ve been in the software development world in the past 10 years, you’ve know how“newsworthy” the issue of software testing has become. You have also probably come across the term “Static Analysis”, also called static code analysis in relation to software testing. It seems to be gaining more and more steam, and people are more interested in what Static Analysis is and how it can help them improve their quality of their code.
Static analysis is analysis of computer code that is performed without actually executing programs. And a static code analysis tool automatically checks the source code for compliance with a predefined set of rules or best practices set by the organization. Static analysis tools are a fast and efficient at finding code defects and inconsistencies, especially in large code bases, including older legacy code and newly created code.
A static code analysis tool can help with your code review process by
- detecting areas in the code that need to be refactored and simplified,
- finding areas of the code that may need more testing or deeper review,
- identifying design issues such as Cyclomatic Complexity and helping reduce the code complexity improve maintainability,
- identifying potential software quality issues before the code moves to production.
We already know that the cost to fix defects or bugs increases as we move downstream in the software development cycle. The longer the defect persists, the more expensive it gets. One of the most important advantages of static analysis is the detection of defects earlier in the process, when they are easier and more cost effective to fix. Other advantages include eliminating unnecessary program components and ensuring that the software being analyzed is compatible with other programs likely to be run concurrently.
How you would use Static Code Analysis
The purpose of Static Analysis is NOT to replace traditional testing, but augment it. Static Analysis will allow the organization deliver better quality code to QA and it will be reflected in a more effective and efficient QA testing. It also differs from traditional testing methods as it can identify bugs or issues that may not be apparent to a tester, but can have negative impacts on product stability, performance, security or maintainability. A QA tester will test the functionality and performance of an application under expected operating conditions, while static analysis will look at the code from a technical perspective and identify issues that might be missed based on the parameters used to structure the QA test program.
What do you think the true value of static analysis is for your code quality?