Source Code Analysis

InfoWorld has an article by Jon Udell:

TDD (test-driven development) is one increasingly popular approach to finding bugs. The overhead can be substantial, however, because the test framework that ensures a programs correctness may require as many lines of code as the program itself. Run-time checking is another popular approach. By injecting special instrumentation into programs or by intercepting API calls, tools such as IBMs Rational Purify and Compuwares BoundsChecker can find problems such as memory corruption, resource leakage, and incorrect use of operating system services. TDD and run-time checking are both useful techniques and are complementary. But ultimately, all errors reside in the programs source code. Although its always important for programmers to review their own code (and one anothers), comprehensive analysis demands automation.

One compelling demonstration of the power of automated source code analysis is Coveritys Linux bugs database. Viewable online, this April 2004 snapshot pinpointed hundreds of bugs in the Linux 2.6 source code. Coveritys analyzer, called SWAT (Software Analysis Toolset), grew out of research by Stanford professor Dawson Engler, now on leave as Coveritys chief scientist.

In the Windows world, a static source code analyzer called PREfast, which has been used internally at Microsoft (Profile, Products, Articles) for years, will be included in Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team System. PREfast is a streamlined version of a powerful analyzer called PREfix, a commercial product sold in the late 1990s by a company called Intrinsa. Microsoft acquired Intrinsa in 1999 and brought the technology into its Programmer Productivity Research Center.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.