Enforcing Coding Standards with Automated Static Analysis
March 1, 2018

How to Enforce Coding Standards With Automated Static Analysis

Static Analysis
Quality Management

A well-defined coding standard improves code quality. Adopting a coding standard is easy. But adhering to and enforcing the rules can be a huge challenge.

Adherence to Coding Standards 

Adherence to coding standards makes sure your code is compliant, readable, and secure.

Adopting a coding standard is important. But it means nothing if your developers don't adhere to it.

Coding standards are often mandated for compliance in safety-critical industries. ISO 26262, for instance, mandates that automotive developers use a coding standard.

Adhering to a coding standard takes resources. You need the right tools and the right people reviewing the code. And, it can be difficult to enforce coding standards.

Even when coding standards are followed, they might be out-of-date. They need to be manually updated to keep up with new features in the language. This can mean that, in practice, they are not enforceable — and exist only on paper.

How to Enforce Coding Standards

Use a proven coding standard. And pair it with an automated static analysis tool.

This helps you enforce the coding standard automatically.

Proven Coding Standards Have Smart Rules

Each rule of the coding standard has to provide the best trade-off between the scope of the coverage and a formula that can be automatically checked.

Choosing the Right Coding Standard

Choosing the right coding standard is important.

The right coding standard:

  • Increases reliability of code by enforcing rules.
  • Educates developers on secure coding practices, reducing time and costs of onboarding and training.
  • Establishes a consistent approach to code analysis, which can be shared across teams.
  • Provides flexibility to adapt to different needs — without building new coding rules from scratch.

There are many proven coding standards, particularly for the C and C++ programming languages.

Some of the most effective coding standards are:

Learn how to choose a coding standard >

Automated Static Analysis Finds Defects Faster

Static analyzers can check your code against the rules from proven coding standards automatically.

This is important, because defects enter the codebase early on. And if you fix them right away, they’re less expensive.

That’s because the cost to fix defects grows exponentially through the development cycle. And the costs rise even higher if an issue that could have been fixed early in development slips through to production.

So, it makes sense to find and fix defects early. Automated static analysis and a proven coding standard makes it easy to find defects in code earlier.

Benefits of Automated Static Analysis Tools

Faster Defect Detection

An automated static analysis tool — such as Helix QAC — processes tens of thousands of files in a few minutes. A human reviewer is typically only able to analyze a few hundred lines of source code per hour. This can reduce the overall lifecycle of the project dramatically, as well as lift the burden on QA teams.

Cost Reduction

Automated static analysis is less expensive than manual code inspections. It identifies known defects on demand — and never misses. Manual code inspections are less effective, more time consuming, and more expensive. Plus, automation frees up expensive resources to work on more strategic tasks.

Better Code Quality

Automated solutions deliver more accurate results than a human. They eliminate the errors and omissions that occur during manual code reviews. So, it improves code quality. Plus, you’ll get metrics to prove code quality improvements.

Shorter Time-to-Market

By automatically enforcing coding standards, you’ll be able to mitigate risk early on in development. So, you’ll reduce your time to market. And there will be less uncertainty in your project schedules.

How Static Code Analysis WorksTry Helix QAC