A new C++ static testing tool is possible using Clang

On the January 16 2008, Dr. Dobb’s Journal published my article “Static testing C++ Code” ( http://drdobbs.com/cpp/205801074 ). In that paper, after a tutorial on testing issues for C++ programs, I presented a technique and related utility to implement static testing automation of a C++ library. By “static testing” I mean to run a program that examines the source code of the library and detects non-conformities, i.e. where the library does not fulfills the requirements expressed as valid and invalid usage of that library.

To that end, C++ code must be parsed to detect if it is a valid C++ program. As I stated in the article, at that time I didn’t know of no free library to parse C++ code, and therefore I built a utility that executes one or more C++ compilers, and examines if the compilation is successful.

That approach works well, but it has the drawback of being quite slow. If a test suite contains one hundred of test cases, one hundred of different C++ programs must be generated and saved on as many files, and each of them must be compiled.

Now, I heard that the LLVM project contains the Clang subproject ( http://clang.llvm.org/index.html ), whose stated goal is “to create a new C, C++, Objective C and Objective C++ front-end for the LLVM compiler”. I have not tried it, but the authors claim their project is rather mature. As I understand it, it is a library that you may use just to parse C++ code, without necessarily generating an output. Therefore, it may be integrated in a static testing utility, with ease of deployment and configuration, and with possible performance advantages.

If anyone has done already something similar, or wants to, let me know, please!


About Carlo Milanesi

I am a software developer in Italy. I have develop financial, engineering and commercial software using many programming languages, mainly C, C++, Visual Basic, Java, and C#. Now I am interested in Rust and TypeScript.
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