The authors of the PVS-Studio analyzer invite you to test your attentiveness.
Code analyzers never get tired and can find errors a human's eye cannot easily notice. We have picked a few code fragments with errors revealed by PVS-Studio, all the fragments taken from well-known open-source projects.
We invite you to take part in a competition against code analyzers to test your agility by trying to find the errors by yourself. You will be offered 15 randomly selected tasks. Every correct answer earns you one score if you give it within 60 seconds. The code fragments are short and 60 seconds is a fair limit.
Let's examine a couple of examples with errors for you to understand how to give the answer.
As you know, our main activity is development of the code analyzers PVS-Studio and CppCat. Although we have been doing this for a long time now and - as we believe - quite successfully, an unusual idea struck us recently. You see, we do not use our own tools in exactly the same way our customers do. Well, we analyze the code of PVS-Studio by PVS-Studio of course, but, honestly, the PVS-Studio project is far from large. Also, the manner of working with PVS-Studio's code is different from that of working with Chromium's or LLVM's code, for example.
We felt like putting ourselves in our customers' shoes to see how our tool is used in long-term projects. You see, project checks we regularly do and report about in our numerous articles are done just the way we would never want our analyzer to be used. Running the tool on a project once, fixing a bunch of bugs, and repeating it all again just one year later is totally incorrect. The routine of coding implies that the analyzer ought to be used regularly - daily.
OK, what's the purpose of all that talk? Our theoretical wishes about trying ourselves in third-party projects have coincided with practical opportunities we started to be offered not so long ago. Last year we decided to allocate a separate team in our company to take up - ugh! - outsourcing; that is, take part in third-party projects as a developer team. Moreover, we were interested in long-term and rather large projects, i.e. requiring not less than 2-3 developers and not less than 6 months of development. We had two goals to accomplish:
- try an alternative kind of business (custom development as opposed to own product development);
- see with our own eyes how PVS-Studio is used in long-term projects.
Just recently I've checked the VirtualDub project with PVS-Studio. This was a random choice. You see, I believe that it is very important to regularly check and re-check various projects to show users that the PVS-Studio analyzer is evolving, and which project you run it on doesn't matter that much - bugs can be found everywhere. We already checked the VirtualDub project in 2011, but we found almost nothing of interest then. So, I decided to take a look at it now, 2 years later.
I downloaded the archive VirtualDub-1.10.3-src.7z from the VirtualDub website. Analysis was performed by PVS-Studio 5.10. It took me just about one hour, so don't be strict with me. I surely must have missed something or, on the contrary, taken correct code fragments for incorrect ones. If you develop and maintain the VirtualDub project, please don't rely on my report - check it yourselves. We always help the open-source community and will grant you a registration key.
I'm also asking Avery Lee to get me right. Last time his reaction to my mentioning VirtualDub in one of the articles was pretty negative. I never mean to say about any program that it's buggy. Software errors can be found in every program. My goal is to show how useful the static code analysis technology can be. At the same time, it will help to make open-source projects a bit more reliable. And that's wonderful.
I'm currently experiencing a strong cognitive dissonance, and it won't let me go. You see, I visit various programmers' forums and see topics where people discuss noble ideas about how to write super-reliable classes; somebody tells he has his project built with the switches -Wall -Wextra -pedantic -Weffc++, and so on. But, God, where are all these scientific and technological achievements? Why do I come across most silly mistakes again and again? Perhaps something is wrong with me?
Some of our users run static analysis only occasionally. They find new errors in their code and, feeling glad about this, willingly renew PVS-Studio licenses. I should feel glad too, shouldn't I? But I feel sad - because you get only 10-20% of the tool's efficiency when using it in such a way, while you could obtain at least 80-90% if you used it otherwise. In this post I will tell you about the most common mistake among users of static code analysis tools.
We thought of checking the Boost library long ago but were not sure if we would collect enough results to write an article. However, the wish remained. We tried to do that twice but gave up each time because we didn't know how to replace a compiler call with a PVS-Studio.exe call. Now we've got us new arms, and the third attempt has been successful. So, are there any bugs to be found in Boost?
To be honest, I don't know what the TPP project is intended for. As far as I understand, this is a set of tools to assist in research of proteins and their interaction in living organisms. However, that's not so much important. What is important is that their source codes are open. It means that I can check them with the PVS-Studio static analyzer. Which I'm very much fond of.
So, we have checked the Trans-Proteomic Pipeline (TPP) version 4.5.2 project. To learn more about the project, see the following links:
More than a year has passed since we analyzed Notepad++ with PVS-Studio. We wanted to see how much better the PVS-Studio analyzer has become since then and which of the previous errors have been fixed in Notepad++.
The id Software company possesses a PVS-Studio license. However, we decided to test the source codes of Doom 3 that have been recently laid out on the Internet. The result is the following: we managed to find just few errors, but still they are there. I think it can be explained by the following fact.
I create the PVS-Studio analyzer detecting errors in source code of C/C++/C++11 software. So I have to review a large amount of source code of various applications where we detected suspicious code fragments with the help of PVS-Studio. I have collected a lot of examples demonstrating that an error occurred because of copying and modifying a code fragment. Of course, it has been known for a long time that using Copy-Paste in programming is a bad thing. But let's try to investigate this problem closely instead of limiting ourselves to just saying "do not copy the code".