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6 Static Code Analysis Best Practices in 2024

Altay Ataman
Updated on Jan 3
4 min read
Static Code Analysis Best Practices

Static code analysis is an essential step in the software development process that helps Quality Assurance (QA) teams identify potential bugs, security vulnerabilities, and code quality issues before they become bigger problems. With effective execution, static code analysis offers advantages, including cost savings, quicker code reviews, and seamless automation.

This article will cover the best practices for conducting effective static code analysis, from choosing the right tools to integrating them into the business development workflow. 

1. Integrate static code analysis into the development process

The first, arguably one of the most important practices for static code analysis is integrating it into the development process (see Figure 1). 

Prior to beginning the integration process, pick a static code analysis tool that works with the firm’s development workflow and technological stack, which can vary from company to company. 

Source: Bardas, A. G.1

Figure 1. Static code analysis in the development process

After choosing a static code analysis tool, define coding standards and configure the tool to enforce them; this will also initiate the later process, which is setting up regular code analysis runs as part of the build process.

2. Regularly run code analysis and prioritize issues found

Regularly running static code analysis tools will improve code quality and reliability. It will also help QA teams identify potential issues and bugs early. 

Static code analysis will initiate a process that will help businesses avoid security flaws by identifying and fixing security vulnerabilities. Consequently, static code analysis is a good way to understand the codebase’s structure.

3. Include code review as part of the development process

Establishing a formal code review process after executing static analysis and making it a mandatory step before the code is finalized can be beneficial. Companies can assign code review responsibilities to experienced and knowledgeable developers to achieve this practice. 

Providing clear guidelines and standards for code review and feedback in code analysis and testing processes will also allow the QA teams to analyze code better.

4. Automate the static analysis process as much as possible

Static code analysis is typically an automated process; it provides faster code reviews than manual ones2 Static code analysis can be automated in the following ways:

  1. Integrating with CI/CD pipeline: You can integrate the dynamic and static analysis tools into the continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline. This ensures that the code is automatically analyzed every time a change is made and deployed.
  2. Automated Scripts: You can create scripts that run static analysis tools regularly and report the results.
  3. Plugins: You can use plugins or integrations with popular integrated development environments such as Visual Studio, Eclipse, or IntelliJ IDEA to automatically run the static code analysis tool.
  4. Code Hooks: Using source control system code hooks to activate the static code analysis program whenever code changes are committed.
  5. Custom Integration: Customizing the integration with the static code analysis tool to fit the specific needs and requirements of the organization. This can include integration with other tools and systems and automation of the reporting and notification process.

Some test automation tools in the market offer static code analysis to assist programmers and developers in their journey of delivering high-quality software. CAST is one of these test automation tools by Testifi, which offers desktop, mobile, API, and web testing. 

See the demo below to see how CAST works

5. Use dynamic code analysis to complement static code analysis

Dynamic code analysis and static code analysis are two different approaches to code analysis in software development:

  1. Static code analysis is analyzing the source code of a program without executing it. It checks for syntax errors, coding standards, security vulnerabilities, and other potential bugs.
  2. Dynamic code analysis is executing the code in real-time and monitoring its behavior to identify potential security vulnerabilities and bugs. It checks for memory leaks, buffer overflows, and race conditions that may not be detectable during static analysis.

Both techniques complement each other and are commonly used together to provide a more comprehensive analysis of code. Using two techniques together will help you reduce code errors.

6. Keep track of false positives and reduce false alerts

You should keep track of and reduce false positive alerts by fine-tuning the static code analysis rules. This can be done by adjusting the threshold for specific rules or excluding certain parts of the code from analysis. This will also help businesses ensure code quality checks, which is a set of evaluation criteria used to assess code quality in a software development project.

Source: Bugseng 3

Figure 2. A figure on how to differentiate false positives and false negatives

You can additionally implement a practice known as ‘whitelisting’ to exclude known false positive alerts from being reported. Whitelisting is a security technique that specifies a list of items (such as IP addresses, files, or applications) that are considered safe and allow access to a system or network. Any item not on the list is automatically blocked or restricted. 

Additionally, businesses can consider using multiple static code analysis tools to cross-check results and reduce the number of false positive alerts.

If you want to learn more about code analysis, don’t hesitate to reach us:

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Altay Ataman
Altay is an industry analyst at AIMultiple. He has background in international political economy, multilateral organizations, development cooperation, global politics, and data analysis. He has experience working at private and government institutions. Altay discovered his interest for emerging tech after seeing its wide use of area in several sectors and acknowledging its importance for the future. He received his bachelor's degree in Political Science and Public Administration from Bilkent University and he received his master's degree in International Politics from KU Leuven .

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