[cfe-dev] clang-tidy or static analyzer or ...

Artem Dergachev via cfe-dev cfe-dev at lists.llvm.org
Wed Jul 3 15:23:24 PDT 2019


It depends on how strict do you want the checking be and on the details 
of the rule. If you're designing a new API from scratch and stuck with 
gcc forever, i wouldn't mind using the gcc __attribute__((cleanup())) 
for your purpose.

The rule you described should be reasonably easy to implement with the 
Static Analyzer. The good side of it is that you get a lot of semantic 
modeling for free. For instance, if the developer copies `dev` into a 
local variable and then uses that local variable outside of 
api_enter..api_exit, the tool will be able to handle transparently, as 
it deals with values rather than with variables. Also it will probably 
be the easiest tool for your problem. The downside would be that it's 
not guaranteed to find all bugs; it'll inevitably give up on complicated 
code with high cyclomatic complexity :) So if you want strict/paranoid 
enforcement of rules, the Static Analyzer is not the right tool. But if 
you want to simply find some bugs for free, it's the right tool.

It sounds as if your problem is not inter-procedural. Let me 
double-check this: would you have another api_enter..api_exit pair in 
the body of your tweak() function? Or is just one api_enter..api_exit 
enough? Or is it a bug to call api_enter twice without an api_exit in 

If you have to write api_enter..api_exit in *every* function that deals 
with devices, then the problem is not inter-procedural, which makes it 
much easier. In particular, you should be able to come up with a purely 
syntactic analysis ("every function that accesses a device_t must start 
with api_enter() and must end in exactly one spot with api_exit()"). 
Such analysis should be easily do-able in clang-tidy as long as you're 
satisfied with this level of aggressiveness. In particular, you'll have 
to be willing to sacrifice code like this:

void foo(device_t *dev) {
   if (flip_a_coin()) {

But it may be perfectly fine if you seriously want to enforce a strict 
structure on all your functions that deal with devices.

I think the truly-truly right tool for your problem would be to come up 
with a custom analysis over Clang CFG. It would be harder to implement, 
but it would allow you to express things like "every execution path 
within a function that accesses `dev` must have a api_enter before it 
and an api_exit after it; you are not allowed to copy `dev` around". 
This would strictly enforce the rule. At the same time it'll allow you 
to lift the requirement of exactly one return point - you would still be 
able to ensure that all accesses are covered. If you need to allow to 
copy `dev` around, it should still be doable, but it will be 
significantly more difficult to implement.

On 7/2/19 12:13 PM, Billy O'Mahony via cfe-dev wrote:
> Hello,
> I'd like to write a rule for either clang-tidy or static analyzer to 
> help catch some potential errors in a project I'm working on.
> My questions are:
>     a) is only one or the other will be able to do what I want to do?
>     b) if both are feasible which would have the simpler implementation?
> The project involves writing an API that will run in a multi-threaded 
> application and is responsible for serializing all access to a device 
> structure. Therefore the first thing in every function in the API must 
> be to call api_enter (which will among other things acquire a mutex on 
> the device) and the last thing before returning must be to call 
> api_exit. Also I want to enforce single exit point from every API 
> function - or certainly if there are any return points that bypass the 
> api_exit call.
> So here is an example function with errors I want to catch highlighted.
> int api_foo(device_t *dev) {
>     int ret_val = 0;
>     bar();  // fn calls & decls before api_enter is ok- just don't 
> access dev.
>     dev->bla = 1; // NO! device access before api_enter() called
>     api_enter(dev);   // error if this call is not present exactly once
>     if (dev->bla)
>         return; // NO! didn't call api_exit before rtn. Also two 
> return points
>     if (dev->ma) {
>         ret_val = 1;
>         goto cleanup;
>     }
>     tweak(dev);
> cleanup:
>     api_exit(dev); // error if this is not present exactly once
>     dev->bla = 1; //NO! device access after api_exit()
>     return ret_val;
> }
> I don't think it matters but the project is C compiled with gcc.
> Also if both are feasible any other pointers, tips or good resources 
> would be appreciated. E.g  is there a totally different methodology 
> I'm not considering - e.g. would using something like pycparser be a 
> lot easier - though I'd prefer to keep it in clang as we plan to use 
> tidy & static analyzer in any case for standard QA.
> Thanks for reading,
> Billy.
> _______________________________________________
> cfe-dev mailing list
> cfe-dev at lists.llvm.org
> https://lists.llvm.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/cfe-dev

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