Can you test your application code for bugs across every step of SDLC? Yes, with Static Code Analysis.
Here’s everything you need to know about Static Code Analysis.
What Is Static Code Analysis?
Simply put, static code analysis is the software testing technique used to analyze static application code for errors or flaws. Why is it called static? Because it analyzes or tests applications without executing or running them. This means that application testing occurs without a runtime environment or during production.
Also referred to as static analysis, static code analysis can analyze any codebase to check for any bugs or for compliance with coding rules or guidelines like MISRA. This technique can check for compliance with industry standards like ISO 26262.
What are the benefits of static code analysis? Let’s discuss that next.
Benefits of Static Code Analysis
As compared to traditional testing methods, static code analysis provides depth to debugging (or testing) any software code. It can effectively check every code line in any application, thus elevating the code quality.
As compared to manual testing, static analysis tools can also increase the speed of application testing. Test automation tools can detect defects (or problems) in software code early in the development phase. Static analysis tools can also pinpoint the exact location of the software bug, thus enabling faster resolution. Moreover, with early detection of minor issues in the SDLC, it takes less testing time and effort to fix them (before they grow into critical bugs).
The Static Code Analysis technique is less prone to human errors (unlike normal testing methods). This technique is also compliant with global coding standards, thus ensuring high code quality.
Among the major benefits, static analysis tools can easily detect security-related vulnerabilities within any application code. Some of these vulnerabilities can lead to successful cyberattacks like SQL injections and Cross-side Scripting (or XSS) attacks.
Furthermore, static code analysis is easy to perform in any development environment. As this technique only tests the application code, it does not require a runtime environment, thus saving both time and cost. Static code analysis is also easy to integrate with any DevOps or CI/CD workflow. As a result, application developers can focus on fixing code-related problems in any environment.
Limitations of Static Code Analysis
Static code analysis has its share of limitations in application testing. For instance, static analysis tools can report a high number of false positives and negatives. False positives are generated when this technique detects code vulnerabilities that do not exist. On the other hand, false negatives are reported when static analysis does not report code vulnerabilities (that do exist).
Among other limitations, such tools cannot always determine the developer’s intent from the written code. Similarly, the analysis can fail to enforce coding rules that are not applicable to static code. At other times, coding rules (or standards) are based on external documentation or are open to interpretation.
Additionally, it has limitations when it comes to detecting security vulnerabilities like user authentication, access control, and cryptography. Despite some latest developments, static analysis tools can only report a low percentage of security flaws.
How does it perform when compared to dynamic code analysis? Let’s discuss that next.
Static vs. Dynamic Code Analysis
Both static and dynamic code analysis techniques can detect software bugs during the development cycle. As compared to static analysis, dynamic analysis involves testing the application code during runtime execution. Often, static and dynamic code analysis combine to improve the effectiveness of the testing process.
When compared to static code analysis, dynamic code analysis offers the following advantages:
- Detects code problems in any runtime environment
- Allows testing of applications without access to its codebase
- Detects vulnerabilities reported as false negatives in static analysis
- Validates the test results of the static code analysis process
However, dynamic code analysis also has its share of disadvantages as compared to static analysis:
- Generates both false positives and negatives
- Provides a false sense of test completion
- Lack of skilled professionals who can perform dynamic analysis
- Cannot trace the vulnerability to the actual location in the code line.
Furthermore, dynamic code analysis does not report coding errors during unit testing (or after running the application).
To sum up, static code analysis effectively detects code vulnerabilities early in the SDLC. As a result, it ensures faster resolution and better code quality. Moreover, it serves to decrease technical debt, increase development productivity, bolster data security, and enhance visibility.
Notably, static code analysis could work wonders with automated tools at disposal. Favorably, with its innovative Test Automation platform, ACCELQ has enabled its customers to improve their test performance and reduce their costs. We can provide the right consultation services on how to implement your software testing.
All in all, we can help you implement automation testing for your applications. Sign up for a personalized product demo today!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Is static code analysis manual?
Static code analysis can be executed either manually or by using automation tools. However, the manual process of code review is difficult and time-consuming.
2. Who typically use static analysis tools?
Software developers generally use static code analysis tools as an integral part of the software development and testing process. They execute the tool and feed the source code as the input data to the tool.
3. When should you use static code analysis?
Static code analysis is performed during code review, which is also referred to as white-box testing. It is typically executed during the implementation phase of any software development lifecycle (SDLC).
4. Which are the popular tools used for static code analysis?
Static code analysis tools are available for a variety of programming languages, including C++, Java, C#, and Python. Some of the leading tools include Raxis, SonarQube, DeepSource, and SmartBear Collaborator.
5. What is the objective of static code analysis?
Static code analysis is a complete debugging method that helps us understand any code structure. Its main objective is to check for code vulnerabilities and ensure that the source code is compliant with coding standards.