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< CDT‎ | Archive‎ | designs(Redirected from CDT/designs/StaticAnalysis)
Note: The contents of this page refer to design documents reflecting work in progress of Eclipse CDT features and for some features that have never been implemented. Therefore they may not refer to the current state of CDT.

Project Goal

Code Name: "Codan" - stands for CODe ANalysis. Codan was first introduced in CDT 7.0.

Codan is a light-weight static analysis framework in CDT that allows to easily plug in "checkers" which perform real time analysis on the code to find common defects, violation of policies, etc.

Intended users of the "Codan" framework:

  • Tool Vendors
    • To create plugins containing end-user checkers and templates
    • To integrate command line static analysis tools into CDT using common front-end
  • Software Architects, Process Enforcement
    • To create customized new checkers, based on templates (no programming involved)
    • To create problem profiles
  • Developer, Tester, Code Inspector
    • To check for errors as you type and have a quick way to fix them, during development
    • To find bugs, security violations, API violations, coding standard violations during code inspection and before code execution

Framework contains common components and APIs that are shared between static analysis tools for C/C++, such as:

  • User Interface to control the Problems enablement and parameters
  • Different launch modes (as you type, on demand, as a builder)
  • An eclipse View to display additional problem information (such as extra backtraces or more complex problem parameters)
  • A Generic Marker type for problems with extra fields
  • API to log the problems
  • Base classes for checkers
  • JUnit testing framework
  • Checker examples
  • Control Flow Graph of the code
  • API to access C/C++ AST and Scanner info is available for checker developers (not part of this plugin but part of CDT core)
  • Example for Quick Fixes (and some helper classes)
  • Common scope filters for checker

Requirements for Google Summer of Code Students

User Experience


Code Analysis can be invoked in one of the following ways:

  • Select a "Run Code Analysis" command from Navigator context menu (file, directory, project or combination)

Codan RunCodan.png

  • Enable "Run on Build" in Project preferences "C/C++ Code Analysis->Build", in this case it would be run with Incremental and Full Build

Codan RunOnBuild.png

  • As you type (in the editor)


  • On file Save


If Problems are found, they would be displayed in the Problems view. Each problem would have a specific type, which can be grouped by or filtered out by the view controls.

Codan ProblemsView.png

Problem Details view can show extra information about a problem, it is customizable (by plugins) to show any external links or extra information about a problem which is not available in Problems view. By default it shows full file to path, full message and description of a problem.

Problem details view.png


User can control Severity and Enablement of Problems on Workspace level or on Project level.

Codan ProjectProperties.png

Many problems are customizable, you can set extra options for checkers and/or set a scope.



Run from Command Line

It is possible to run codan validation on command line as eclipse application eclipse -noSplash -application org.eclipse.cdt.codan.core.application -data <workspace> -consoleLog -verbose -all

Usage: [options] <project1> <project2> ...
 -all - run on all projects in workspace
 -verbose - print verbose build information 

Note: on windows run eclipsec instead

If you want to run it as part of automated build you also need to

  • a) create workspace prio to this command
  • b) import all projects you need into workspace
  • c) make sure all projects are indexed

All of the above is possible to do from command line using another cdt application "org.eclipse.cdt.managedbuilder.core.headlessbuild" using -import or -importAll option

Examples of possible Problems

  • Assignment in condition
 if (a=b) { ... }
  • Statement has not effect
  • Function name does not meet policy rules (should start with a lowercase letter)
 void My_function() {}

Please edit this page for problem ideas: Ideas

For Developers

Create a Checker

To create a simple checker you have to extend one of the framework classes, and add extension points where you specify a class name and describe a problem that checker finds, which includes name, message, default severity, etc. Name of the problem would be visible on the Configuration page.

To create a checker:

  1. Define a problem(s) that your checker is capable of finding, cross check existing checkers to see if it is already there, create a bug report describing your intention to implement it
  2. Start coding:
    • check out all plugins from codan git repo (use cdt checkout instructions) as separate eclipse projects (see below for git link)
    • create a plugin for your checkers or use org.eclipse.cdt.codan.checkers
    • create an extension for org.eclipse.cdt.codan.core.checkers. Specify one or more problem that your checker can detect with name, id, default severity and enablement
    • note: severity of the problem is user defined. If you are creating a frontend for a command line static analysis tool (such as lint) which can have different severity for same error, you have to create an id per severity per problem type. For example for "Null pointer dereference" you create npd.error and npd.warning ids. Users may define both of them as warnings for IDE.
    • create a class in selected plugin which extends one of the AbstractChecker classes, such as AbstractIndexAstChecker, see examples in org.eclipse.cdt.codan.internal.checkers
    • create a tests for your checker, it is pretty easy to do with existing framework see StatementHasNoEffectCheckerTest class as an example
  3. Commit the code into local git repo, with comment starting with "Bug XXXXX: ...." Where XXXXX is the bug number, also comment must have gerrit change id and sign off (see more details in how to contribute cdt page)
  4. Push change to gerrit server for review

Extension Point

This is example of extension point:

           name="Assignment in condition">
           name="Assignment in condition">


API contains:

  • Interfaces such as IProblem, IProblemCategory, IChecker, etc
  • Interface to call Problem Logging - provides means to report a problem (which would become a marker)
  • Interface to query status of problem enablement (for optimization purposes)
  • Abstract classes for Checkers (such as AbstractIndexAstChecker). For example class for C AST Visitor, which would use CDT C/C++ AST to find errors. Checkers can also use other models and even just plain text files (to find swear words or something...)
  • Programmatic access to launch the analysis
  • Problems configuration (profile) change listener - this allows for example to save problems/checkers enablement to a file to use in external make integrations

Non API Framework Parts:

  • Builder - framework would register a project builder for "Code Analysis". This builder can be used by all checkers and can be turn on/off by user, which allows to perform checks while building (or not)
  • Run On demand - provides a command to run "Code Analysis" on demand on selected files or set of resources
  • Problem configuration - provides workspace level and project level problem configuration that allows to turn problems on and off, and change problem severity
  • Marker Type - provides a market type for simple problems. Sophisticated checkers can use their own marker types.
  • Common Categories - set of common Categories for problems, such as what Java has, for example "Programming Errors", "Unused Code and Objects", "Security Violations"...
  • Checkers extension point - allows to contribute a checker by using extension point, which means different problems can be contributed by different plugins with potentially different vendors, but would have same user interface and look and feel.


Currently, this framework is packaged with CDT version 7.0+ Also can work with 6.0, to include it in your CDT 6.0 based tool you need to manually import plugins and add them to your distribution. The branch called "cdt_7_0" is backwards-compatible to CDT 6.0, "HEAD" is not.

Framework only

  • org.eclipse.cdt.codan-feature
  • org.eclipse.cdt.codan.core
  • org.eclipse.cdt.codan.core.cxx
  • org.eclipse.cdt.codan.ui
  • org.eclipse.cdt.codan.ui.cxx


  • org.eclipse.cdt.codan.checkers
  • org.eclipse.cdt.codan.checkers.ui (ui support for specific checkers, such as quick fixes)

Testing & Examples

  • org.eclipse.cdt.codan.core.test
  • org.eclipse.cdt.codan.examples
  • org.eclipse.cdt.codan.ui.cfgview (control flow graph viewer)

Future work

  • User defined checker's preferences, for example if it checks for policy violations on function name let user specify name pattern using UI
    • partially done
  • Build shared models other than AST with bindings, such as Control Graph, Data Flow Graph (this was done in ptp project, maybe just bring it over)
    • control graph is done for C (no exception support for c++)
  • Some common code to support Quick Fix for the problems
    • there is some common code now
  • Other static analysis application can become part of the project, such as: searchers, metrics, software models, etc
  • Support for problem profiles, for example "security profile" or "code inspection profile".
  • User should be able enable/disable checkers per launch type, i.e. checkers enabled "as you type" vs "with build". For example checkers that finds compilation problems are good as you type but not when you running actual compiler.
    • partially implemented


Source located at

API for C/C++ AST:

Send questions to cdt-dev list:


EclipseCon 2011


Send bugs to

  • Project: Tools->CDT
  • Component: cdt-codan
  • Prefix: [fp] for false positive, [fn] for false negative, [checker] for new checker
  • List of current open bugs

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