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Install and Use CLang Static Analyzer on a CMake project

I recently started a bit of work on my compiler (eddic) again. I started by adapting it to build on CLang with libc++. There was some minor adaptions to make it compile, but nothing really fancy. It now compiles and runs fine on LLVM/Clang 3.4 with the last version of libc++. I'm gonna use some features of C++14 in it and I plan to refactor some parts to make it more STL-correct. I also plan to use only CLang on eddic right now, since C++14 support of GCC is not released right now.

I decided it was a good time to try again the CLang static analyzer.


If, like me, you're using Gentoo, the static analyzer is directly installed with the sys-devel/clang package, unless you disabled the static-analyzer USE flag.

If your distribution does not ship the static analyzer directly with CLang, you'll have to install it manually. To install it from sources, I advise you to follow the Official Installations instruction.


The usage of CLang static analyzer can be a bit disturbing at first. Most static analysis tools generally takes the sources directly and do their stuff. But that is not how Clang Static Analyzer works. It works as a kind of monitor in top of building the program, using scan-build. When you are analyzing a program, you are also building the program.

For instance, if you are compiling a source file like that:

clang [clang-options] source_file.cpp

you can perform static analysis like that:

scan-build [scan-build-options] clang [clang-options] source_file.cpp

scan-build works by replacing calls to the compiler by calls to ccc-analyzer . This works generally well, but there are some cases where that things get a bit more complicated. That is the case of CMake where the paths to the compiler are hardcoded in the generated makefiles.

For that, you have to run cmake and make with scan-build:

export CCC_CC=clang
export CCC_CXX=clang++
scan-build cmake -DCMAKE_CXX_COMPILER=clang++ -DCMAKE_C_COMPILER=clang .
scan-build make

This can take a very long time. On eddic, it is about three times slower than a normal compilation. An important point to note about performance, is that you can run compilations in parallel (-j option of make) and that it is supported by scan-build quite well.

Once analysis is performed, the found bugs are put into an HTML report. By default, the HTML report is created in /tmp/, but you can specificy the folder with -o option of scan-build.

You can enable or disable checker with the -enable-checker and -disable-checker options of scan-build.

Results on eddic

Several versions of Clang ago, I tried the static analyzer on eddic, but it failed on several source files without producing any results. Moreover, at this time, I don't think there was any nice HTML report at this time.

I ran it again on eddic with the last versions. Here is a picture of the generated report:

CLang Static Analyzer eddic results

As you can see, 14 bugs have been found. Unfortunately, none of them is a real bug on my code, but they are not all false positives neither. For instance, here is some unreachable code report:

CLang Static Analyzer eddic bug

It is indeed an unreachable statement, but it is expected, since it is an assert to ensure that the code is unreachable. But that proves that the analysis works ;)

Even if it didn't found anything, this time it worked much better than the last time I checked and the HTML results are just really good.

I hope you found this article interesting. If you happen to have interesting results on your codebase with the CLang static analyzer, I'd be glad to hear about them ;)


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