Static Code Analysis: Types and How it Works

Encora | July 18, 2022

Static code analysis is a boon to the busy development team. And development teams these days aren’t simply busy; they are under pressure to deliver quality releases on time. While doing this, they still need to produce exemplary code that is compliant, which is not an easy task. Enter static code analysis, which analyzes code without running it, and finds vulnerabilities and compliance errors at the click of a button. Static code analysis, static analysis, and source code analysis are all terms used interchangeably. In this article, we’ll be referring to static code analysis by all its names while exploring what it is, how it works, its types, and why it is necessary.


What is Source/Static Code Analysis?


At its simplest definition, source code analysis is a way of debugging a program without running it. This is an automatic process. Code is analyzed against a set, or several sets, of coding guidelines. Code analysis yields similar results as a manual review but in far less time since it is automated. One of the primary uses for static code analysis is ensuring code compliance at the early stages of the development process. Your organization can check code for compliance with coding rules such as MISRA and industry-standard guidelines like ISO 26262. In addition to code compliance, source code analysis also:


  1. Detects program errors in every part of the code. This saves countless dollars and hours of work down the line. It’s far more costly for organizations to fix bugs after launching a product.

  2. Finds undefined values.

  3. Discovers syntax violations.

  4. Detects common vulnerabilities that could lead to things like buffer overflows.

How Does Source Code Analysis Work?


Code analysis is a relatively simple process, as long as it’s automated. If your organization used DevOps development procedures, then static code analysis takes place in the “create” phase. Note that this is well ahead of the formal testing phase. Once developers write the code, it’s run through a static code analyzer. To use a writing example, the developers are editing their program’s first “rough draft.” The developers have set up the coding rules or guidelines they want the code checked against. Once a list of errors has been detected, developers need to go through them to eliminate any false positives and then resolve any errors or mistakes in the code. The speed and depth possible with static code analysis is invaluable to the modern development team. While source code analysis can’t catch every error, it can catch many of them quickly and early on in the development life cycle.


Types of Static Code Analysis


Organizations can choose from several static analysis methods based on their objectives.


  1. Control analysis works in a calling structure and focuses on its control flow. For example, a process, method, function, or subroutine could be a control flow.

  2. Data analysis focuses on ensuring the proper use of defined data while simultaneously confirming the proper operation of data objects.

  3. Fault/failure analysis, which works to analyze any known faults or failures in model components.

  4. Interface analysis is a process that verifies simulations. Its purpose is to examine the code and ensure that the interface works properly in the model and simulation.

There are also broader, less formal categorizations used to describe source code analysis. These categories are:


  1. Formal—Is the code correct?

  2. Cosmetic—Does the code match up with style standards?

  3. Design properties—What are the levels of complexity?

  4. Error checking—Is the code compliant, or are there any code violations?

  5. Predictive categories—What behaviors can be expected from code?


Why Static Code Analysis is Necessary


Here are some reasons why static analysis is essential for modern organizations.


  1. Developers can deeply analyze program code without running the program. This allows for analysis early in its existence. Source code analysis at this level effectively discovers vulnerabilities in the whole system, no matter how remote or dusty the code.
  2. Code analysis is infinitely modifiable and can be customized to suit individual project needs.
  3. Source code analysis is essential in interdepartmental collaboration and supports the whole development team’s goal.
  4. Perhaps the most fundamental reason for static code analysis is its ability to detect bugs in the code early in the development process. This massively reduces costs associated with bugs in the long run.


Static Code Analysis Solutions from Encora


Encora’s team of expert DevOps engineers is ready to support your organization at any phase of the SDLC. We incorporate static code analysis as part of our work in the create phase and can assist you with decreasing development cycles, increasing your number of deployments, and improving your application’s release time, visibility and growth. From infrastructure support and augmentation to release management and automation, our DevOps teams are here to assist. Contact us today to get started!


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