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The Riverblade Developer's Blog

Beth demonstrating Visual Lint at the ACCU Conference 2008  Anna taking part in a discussion panel at the European Software Conference 2007 

Welcome to our developer's blog. We hope that this forum provides an insight into us, our products and how we develop them. Please feel free to write to us if you have anything to add to any of the posts here.

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Gimpel's New Website
Thursday, October 25, 2018

Gimpel Software (the vendor behind PC-lint and PC-lint Plus) have recently updated their website, and it is now dedicated entirely to PC-lint Plus. If you are considering upgrading from PC-lint 9.0 to PC-lint Plus, the relevant information is available at PC-lint Plus for PC-lint/FlexeLint users.

The new website also includes an interactive demonstrator for PC-lint Plus, which allows you to try it out on sample C++ 11/14/17 or C89/99/11 code:

Gimpel's PC-lint Plus online demonstator

At the moment the demonstrator only includes compiler configurations for Visual Studio 2013 and 2015, but please don't let that put you off as it can work with most compilers including those based on GCC.

Also noteworthy is the following statement:

How long will PC-lint/FlexeLint Version 9 be supported?
PC-lint/FlexeLint Version 9 are no longer being maintained. The final update was Version 9.00L, released in 2014. Technical support will be provided for these products through the end of 2018.

That being the case, we intend to remove PC-lint 9.0 from our online store shortly. Gimpel are selling PC-lint Plus licences directly rather than via resellers, so if you need a quote for a PC-lint Plus licence please contact sales@gimpel.com for details or use the links below.

Useful links:

If you have any queries, please let us know.


Posted by Anna at 11:43 | Get Link

 

Visual Lint 6.5.5.300 has been released
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

This is a recommended maintenance update for Visual Lint 6.0 and 6.5. The following changes are included:

  • Fixed an MSBuild parsing bug which was preventing Visual Studio system include folders from being read in some circumstances.
     
  • Fixed a bug which could prevent the VisualLintGui code editor determining the location of PC-lint Plus indirect files in order to open them from a context menu.
     
  • Updated the values of _MSC_VER and _MSC_FULL_VER in the PC-lint Plus indirect file co-rb-vs2017.lnt for compatibility with Visual Studio 2017 v15.8.3. This change is needed to fix a fatal error in yvals_core.h if _MSC_VER is less than 1915.
     
  • Added a PC-lint Plus compatible version of lib-stl.lnt to the installer as it is not currently supplied with PC-lint Plus.
     
  • Added additional indirect files needed for analysing Visual Studio 2012, 2013 and 2015 codebases with PC-lint Plus 1.2 to the installer.
     
  • If a project intermediate files folder does not currently exist, it will not be referenced with a -i (include folder) directive on generated PC-lint or PC-lint Plus command lines. This avoids extraneous 686 warnings "(Warning -- option '-i<folder path>' is suspicious: absolute path is not accessible)".

    Note that if build artifacts (e.g. .tlh or .tli files) are required for analysis purposes, analysing without the intermediate folder will most likely result in analysis errors. In this case, performing a build and re-analysing the affected files/projects should fix it.
     

Download Visual Lint 6.5.5.300


Posted by Anna at 14:58 | Get Link

 

LintProject Pro End of Life Notice
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

LintProject Pro is a command line only product which can perform a basic per-file analysis of a C/C++ codebase using PC-lint or CppCheck. In many ways it was the proof of concept for Visual Lint, and although it has served us well, it's getting a bit long in the tooth now.

For example, unlike Visual Lint Build Server Edition (which has inherited its capabilities), LintProject Pro only makes use of a single CPU core when running analysis and doesn't support current analysis tools such as PC-lint Plus.

The interfaces to the two products are however very similar as the command line interface of Visual Lint Build Server is based on that of LintProject Pro. In fact, Visual Lint Build Server Edition can do everything LintProject Pro can - along with much, much more.

As such we think it is now finally time to put LintProject Pro out to pasture, and to make that easier we are offering a migration path from LintProject Pro to Visual Lint Build Server Edition. This involves trading in each existing LintProject Pro licence purchased before 23rd October 2018 for a 25% discount on a corresponding Visual Lint Build Server Edition licence. As such LintProject Pro has now been removed from our online store.

To take advantage of the upgrade, just write to us quoting which LintProject Pro licence (or licences) you wish to trade-in.

We've tried to keep this process clear and simple. The value of the discount offered exceeds that of the LintProject Pro licence, so this is a lower cost route to obtain an equivalent PC-lint Plus compatible product than (for example) refunding any existing LintProject Pro licences and purchasing Visual Lint Build Server Edition licences at full price.

If you have any questions, just ask.


Posted by Anna at 13:29 | Get Link

 

Visual Lint 6.5.4.298 has been released
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

This is a recommended maintenance update for Visual Lint 6.5. The following changes are included:

  • If a "Lint" folder without the hidden attribute exists in a solution/workspace folder Visual Lint will no longer attempt to use it to store analysis results and will create a new ".visuallint" folder instead. This prevents Visual Lint from assuming that a user-created "Lint" folder is one which was created by an earlier (pre-v5.0) version of Visual Lint.
     
  • Fixed a crash which could occur when files were saved in the Eclipse plug-in. The crash seemed to particularly affect plug-in installations running within Texas Instruments Code Composer Studio and configured for per-project analysis with the "Re-analyse saved files using the preferred method" option set.
     
  • The project variables $(CEVER), $(ARCHFAM) and $(_ARCHFAM_) are now automatically defined when analysing Visual Studio 2008 projects for the NetDCU9 (ARMV4I) platform.
     
  • Corrected the "Supported development environments" help topic to reflect the fact that Atmel AVR Studio 5 and Atmel Studio 6.x/7.x are now supported via a dedicated plug-in.
     
  • Updated the PC-lint Plus message database to reflect changes in PC-lint Plus 1.2. Note that the definitions for Clang errors 5905, 5916 and 5922 have been omitted as the PC-lint Plus -dump_messages directive does not reveal either their titles or descriptions.
     

Download Visual Lint 6.5.4.298


Posted by Anna at 13:49 | Get Link

 

Visual Lint 6.5.3.296 has been released
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

This is a recommended maintenance update for Visual Lint 6.5. The following changes are included:

  • Added the ability to override the analysis tool installation folder on a per solution/workspace or project basis [Visual Lint Enterprise and Build Server Editions].
     
  • The analysis tool executable pathname can now be overridden on a per project basis as well as per solution/workspace [Visual Lint Enterprise and Build Server Editions].
     
  • Fixed a minor resizing bug in the Analysis Configuration Dialog.
     
  • Fixed a minor bug in the "Active Analysis Tool" dialog.
     

Download Visual Lint 6.5.3.296


Posted by Anna at 09:57 | Get Link

 

Visual Lint 6.5.2.295 has been released
Thursday, May 24, 2018

This is a recommended maintenance update for Visual Lint 6.5. The following changes are included:

  • Added basic support for Qt Creator projects (.pro/.pro.user files). Note that the implementation does not yet support subprojects or read preprocessor and include folder properties. As such, if the analysis tool you are using requires preprocessor or include folders to be defined (as PC-lint and PC-lint Plus do) for the time being they must be defined manually (e.g. written as -D and -i directives within a PC-lint/PC-lint Plus std.lnt indirect file).
     
  • The "Analysis Tool" Options page now recognises PC-lint Plus installations containing only a 64 bit executable if the "Use a 64 bit version of PC-lint if available" option is set.
     
  • When the PC-lint Plus installation folder is selected in the "Analysis Tool" Options page the PC-lint Plus manual (<installation folder>/doc/manual.pdf) is now correctly configured.
     
  • Added a workaround to the Eclipse plug-in for an issue identified with some Code Composer Studio installations which source plug-in startup and shutdown events in different threads.
     
  • Fixed a crash which affected some machines when the "Analysis Tool" Options page was activated when PC-lint was the active analysis tool.
     
  • Fixed a bug which caused the Visual Studio plug-in to be incorrrectly configured in Visual Studio 2017 v15.7.
     
  • Fixed a bug which could cause the PC-lint/PC-lint Plus environment file to reset to "Defined in std.lnt".
     
  • Updated the "Example PC-lint/PC-lint Plus project.lnt file" help topic and those relating to supported project types.
     

Download Visual Lint 6.5.2.295


Posted by Anna at 11:28 | Get Link

 

ACCU Conference 2018
Friday, April 27, 2018

We had an absolute blast at this year's ACCU Conference, and if you were there we imagine you did too.

For us the highlight had to be the launch of #include <C++>, a new global, inclusive, and diverse community for developers interested in C++.

#include <C++> logo

This is an initiative that has been brewing for a while, and we're very happy to be a part of. Above all else #include <C++> is designed to be a safe place for developers irrespective of their background, ethnicity, gender identity or sexuality. The group runs a Discord server which is moderated to ensure that it remains a safe space and which you are welcome to join.


On the technical front, one unexpected highlight of the conference was Benjamin Missel's wonderful short talk on writing a C compiler for a BBC Micro, during which he demonstrated SSHing into a BBC Model B through the serial port!

Most conference sessions were recorded so even if you weren't there you can still watch them.

See you at ACCU 2019!


Posted by Anna at 12:25 | Get Link

 

ResOrg 2.0.7.27 has been released

ResOrg 2.0.7.27 has just been released. This is a maintenance update for ResOrg 2.0, and is compatible with all ResOrg 2.0 licence keys.

The following changes are included:

  • Fixed a bug in the Symbols Display which could cause some "OK" symbols to be incorrectly shown in the "Problem Symbols Only" view.
     
  • Corrected the upper range limit for control symbols from 28671 (0x6FFF) to 57343 (0xDFFF).
     
  • ResOrg binaries are now dual signed with both SHA1 and SHA256.
     
  • Added support for Visual Studio 2017.
     
  • Corrected the File Save Dialog filters used by the ResOrgApp "File | Export" command.
     
  • The ResOrgApp "File | Export", "File | Save", "File | Save As" and "File | Properties" commands (which apply only to symbol file views) are now disabled when the active view is a report.
     
  • Fixed a crash in the Symbol File Properties Dialog.
     
  • Fixed a typo on the Symbol File "Next Values" page.
     
  • Various minor improvements to the installer.
     

Download ResOrg 2.0.7.27


Posted by Anna at 11:31 | Get Link

 

Visual Lint 6.5.1.294 has been released
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Visual Lint 6.5.1.294 has just been released. This is a maintenance update for Visual Lint 6.5, and is compatible with all Visual Lint 6.0 and 6.5 licence keys.

The following changes are included:

  • Built-in compiler preprocessor symbols are now automatically included in the analysis configuration for Atmel Studio projects using ARM toolchains where possible.
     
  • Fixed a bug which caused a "project changed" event to be erroneously sourced if an external project file located in the same folder as a loaded project was changed.
     
  • The PC-lint raw analysis results parser will now raise a fatal error if a PC-lint Plus License Error is detected.
     
  • Fixed a bug in the "Analysis Tool" Options page which affected browsing for an analysis tool installation folder.
     
  • Modified a handful of prompts to refer to "PC-lint or PC-lint Plus" rather than just "PC-lint".
     

Download Visual Lint 6.5.1.294


Posted by Anna at 11:03 | Get Link

 

Visual Lint 6.5 has been released
Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The first public build of Visual Lint 6.5 has just been uploaded to our website.

Visual Lint 6.5 is the second Visual Lint 6.x release, superseding Visual Lint 6.0. As a minor update, it will also accept existing per-user Visual Lint 6.0 licences; Visual Lint 1.x, 2.x, 3.x, 4.x and 5.x per-user licences must however be upgraded to work with this version.

Full details of the changes in this version are as follows:

 

Host Environments:
  • Removed the (deprecated since Visual Lint 5.0) ability of the Visual Studio plug-in to load within Microsoft Visual Studio 6.0 and eMbedded Visual C++ 4.0. Projects for these environments can of course still be analysed in the standalone VisualLintGui and VisualLintConsole applications.
     
Analysis Tools:
  • Modifications to support PC-lint Plus PCH analysis, which creates object files (.lpph or .lpch) in the project working folder rather than (as was the case with PC-lint 9.0) in the folder containing the PCH header file. This should affect only projects where the PCH header file is contained in a different folder from the project file.
     
  • PC-lint project indirect (project.lnt) files are now automatically recreated if a different version of the analysis tool is in use.
     
Installation:
  • The installer now prompts for affected applications (Visual Studio, Atmel Studio, AVR Studio, Eclipse, VisualLintConsole and VisualLintGui) to be closed before installation can proceed.
     
  • The installer now installs VSIX extensions to Visual Studio 2017 and Atmel [AVR] Studio silently.
     
  • Revised the order of registration of the Visual Studio plug-in with each version of Visual Studio so that the newest versions are now registered first.
     
  • Uninstallation no longer incorrectly runs "Configuring Visual Studio..." steps if the VS plug-in is not selected for installation.
     
  • The "Installing Visual Lint" progress bar is now updated while Visual Studio, Atmel Studio and Eclipse installations are being registered.
     
  • Improved the logging of VSIX extension installation/uninstallation.
     
User Interface:
  • The Analysis Status View now supports text filters of the form "Project/File".
     
  • Added a new Window List Dialog to VisualLintGui to display details of the open MDI child windows, and allow selected windows to be activated, saved or closed as a group.
     
  • Widened the About Box slightly.
     
Reports:
  • Replaced the table sort code in generated HTML reports with a simpler, more robust implementation from https://www.kryogenix.org/code/browser/sorttable/.
     
  • Replaced the Teechart generated Issue Count by Category/ID charts in HTML reports with Javascript ones.
     
Bug Fixes:

 

Download Visual Lint 6.5.0.293


Posted by Anna at 12:37 | Get Link

 

ACCU Conference 2016
Wednesday, June 8, 2016

In late April we exhibited at the ACCU Conference (#accuconf), which in many ways is our conference home. The first time we went was all the way back in 2007, and believe it or not we've not missed a year since!

Invaders...from Bournemouth

Invaders...from Bournemouth

We normally attend the sessions as delegates and also run an exhibition stand (which makes for some rather hectic juggling!), but this year was a little different as our founder Anna also presented the closing keynote "Comfort Zone" (which she describes as being about "Puppies, Spiders, User Interface Cheese-Moving and the Neuroscience of Anger"....).

Anna-Jayne Metcalfe presenting the closing keynote 'Comfort Zone'

Anna-Jayne Metcalfe from Riverblade presenting the closing keynote "Comfort Zone"

As ever, it was an interesting (and quite exhausting) week...but more than that, it was a week when the people who make ACCU what it is stood up and really showed what a truly amazing group of people they are. I'll talk about that specifically in a follow-up post shortly, but suffice it to say that we came away understanding just how lucky we are to have found this particular organisation...

Of course if you went, you'll know all this already. If you didn't, here's a handful of photos to give you an idea what you missed this time...

The Bristol suite at #accuconf

The Bristol suite at #accuconf

The Bristol suite at #accuconf.

This is where the keynotes take place on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning...and at the close of the conference on Saturday afternoon


Pete Goodliffe presenting 'The Codealow - a developer's bedtime story' on Wednesday evening

Pete Goodliffe presenting "The Codealow - a developer's bedtime story" during the Lightning Talks on Wednesday evening


Don't panic - it's just the conference dinner!

Don't panic - it's just the conference dinner!


Set the controls for the heart of the pudding...

Set the controls for the heart of the pudding...


OK. *Now* would be  the time to panic...

OK. Now would be the time to panic...


Comfort Zone

Comfort Zone

Comfort Zone

Comfort Zone

Comfort Zone

Comfort Zone

Anna-Jayne Metcalfe presenting the ACCU 2016 closing keynote "Comfort Zone"


If you'd like to see the keynote, there's a video of it on YouTube and the slides are here.


Posted by Anna at 14:02 | Get Link

 

PC-lint Plus is coming - and with it, full support for C++ 11 and C++ 14
Monday, December 14, 2015

Gimpel have just announced a beta of PC-lint Plus - a new product which will sit alongside PC-lint. To understand the (rather complex, I'm afraid) background and the background to why a beta of PC-lint Plus has been announced rather than one for the long awaited 9.00m patch, please keep reading...

It is no secret that PC-lint 9.0 struggles with some C++ 11/14 code - and especially any code making use of C++ 11 variadic templates. The result is errors - and nasty, hard to work around ones at that.

Under Windows, this is particularly noticable when analysing projects written for Visual Studio 2013 and 2015, which both use variadic templates in their system headers (Visual Studio 2012 and earlier did not).

A glance at the C++ 11 support page on the Gimpel website illustrates this rather well, with the following C++ 11 features shown as not yet being supported as of PC-lint 9.00L:

  • Allowing move constructors to throw [noexcept] (N3050)
  • Variadic templates (N2242)
  • Extending variadic template template parameters (N2555)
  • Initializer lists (N2672)
  • Generalized attributes (N2761)
  • Generalized constant expressions (N2235)
  • Inheriting constructors(N2540)
  • Unicode string literals (N2442)
  • Raw string literals (N2442)
  • Universal character names in literals (N2170)
  • User-defined literals (N2765)
  • Inline namespaces (N2535)
  • Unrestricted unions (N2544)
  • Minimal support for garbage collection and reachability-based leak detection (N2670)
  • Extended integral types (N1988)

That's just of course from C++ 11, and with C++ 14 also out and C++ 17 (which like C++ 11 promises major changes to the language) is just around the corner, keeping up has been getting more and more difficult. As Jim Gimpel said to us recently:

Unfortunately, keeping up with the evolving C++ standards which seemed to know no bounds, became more and more difficult as Gimpel Software did have bounds.

It is worth remembering that PC-lint was first introduced in 1985, so presumably the C++ front end in 9.00L is a direct descendent of that in the original product rather than one of the standard C++ front ends (EDG, Clang, GCC etc.) our industry has effectively settled upon since. As a result, every change in the language no doubt requires comparable changes in the PC-lint front end. Given how much C++ has evolved recently (and continues to evolve, looking forward to C++ 17 and beyond), that's potentially a huge ongoing task.

Like many others, for some time we have been asking Gimpel for an estimate of roughly when an update addressing the remaining C++ 11 issues were realistically likely to become available. Although throughout last year we thought that support for variadic templates issue (the missing feature which seemed to be catching most people out) would be resolved with 9.00L in the Autumn sadly it was not to be, and by the start of this year it became obvious to us that we would have to put into place a workaround to allow customers to analyse Visual Studio 2013 and 2015 projects. Hence the system headers compatibility thunk described in Visual Studio 2013, PC-lint and C++ 11 Variadic Templates and available in Visual Lint 4.5.9.239 onwards.

Around the same time, Gimpel also updated us on their future plans, and how they intended to offer complete C++ 11/14 support. Although we couldn't talk about that publicly at the time, now that they have announced the beta we are free to do so.

The bottom line is that rather than continue to try to keep the existing PC-lint front end up to date with changes in the C++ Standard, Gimpel have decided to develop a spin-off product using the industry standard Clang front-end. The existing PC-lint 9.0 and Flexelint 9.0 products will continue to be supported for the foreseeable future.

This is of course a major development, and in consequence is one that couldn't have been released as a PC-lint 9.0 patch anyway. As the Clang source requires a modern C++ compiler to compile it, this makes distributing PC-lint Plus as obfuscated source (as Flexelint currently is) impractical as many compilers for non-x86 platforms would not be able to compile it.

The move to Clang also means that in future PC-lint Plus will be able to keep up with changes in the C++ standard as fast as new versions of Clang can be integrated. So, if (for example) the C++ Module System proposals (N4465/N4466) (which allow imports of compiled units to replace #includes of header files, thus drastically reducing build times) make it into C++ 17, PC-lint will be able to keep up without another major hiatus.

For Windows, both 32 bit (pclp32.exe) and 64 bit (pclp64.exe) binaries will be provided along with full support for C++ 11/14, Visual Studio 2013 and 2015. For Linux, a pre-built x86 binary will be available which should simplify things for developers on that platform (and potentially allow the pricing of the Linux version of PC-lint to become more competitive with the Windows variant). For non-x86 platforms etc., Flexelint will continue to be available in its current form.

The new product supports a considerable number of new messages (far too many to list!). In addition, obsolete options such as +linebuf and +macros have been removed.

As far as our own products are concerned, Visual Lint 5.0.6.254 onwards are aware of PC-lint Plus (we've actually been testing with alpha builds since the summer) and should work with beta versions. Support for 64 bit builds of PC-lint will become available in the New Year, and now that the beta has been announced we will be adding documentation for the new messages to the message database installed with the product as information becomes available.

Overall this is a huge step forward, but we are aware that it may come as a shock to many who were expecting PC-lint 9.00m. As soon as we know the details of Gimpel's PC-lint 9.0 to PC-lint Plus upgrade policy rest assured we will be talking about it. In the meantime, please do join the beta programme and help test it!

Gimpel's beta announcement can be found in the blogpost Upcoming Support for C++14/VS2015.


Posted by Anna at 11:24 | Get Link

 

ResOrg 2.0.6.25 has been released
Monday, November 9, 2015

This is a maintenance update for ResOrg 2.0. The following changes are included:

  • Added support for Visual Studio 2015.
     
  • Added support for Windows 10.
     
  • Added a helpfile.
     
  • Removed support for Windows 2000.
     
  • ResOrgApp now declares itself as system DPI aware to reduce the likelyhood of DPI virtualization.
     
  • Icons used within the ResOrg displays now reflect the current system defined icon sizes rather than being hardcoded to 16x16, 32x32 etc.
     
  • Tweaked the layout of the AboutBox.
     

Download ResOrg 2.0.6.25


Posted by Anna at 10:30 | Get Link

 

ACCU Conference 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015

We spent last week at the ACCU Conference in Bristol having our brains filled with gloopy tech goodness. It was (as ever) a real blast.

chandler_carruth presenting 'C++: Easier, Faster, Safer' at ACCU 2015

We had our demo rig with us as usual, and a steady stream of folks came along to chat to us and acquire caffeine from the expresso machine on the table next door. We came back absolutely exhausted, so no detailed photoblog this time I'm afraid!

However, for me the highlight was Chandler Carruth's closing keynote C++: Easier, Faster, Safer, in which he talked about how Google were using Clang and LLVM to (among other things) perform large scale automated refactoring (cue lots of furious scribbling...)

The synopsis of the keynote says it far better than I could:

Over the past five years, the prospect of developing large software projects in C++ has changed dramatically. We have had not one but two new language standards. An amazing array of new features are available today that make the language more elegant, expressive, and easy to use. But that isn't the only change in the last five years. LLVM and Clang have helped kick start a new ecosystem of tools that make developing C++ easier, faster, and safer than ever before.

This talk will cover practical ways you can use the tools we have built in the LLVM and Clang projects. It will show you what problems they solve and why those problems matter. It will also help teach you the most effective ways we have found to use all of these tools in conjunction with modern C++ coding patterns and practices. In short, it will show you how to make *your* C++ development experience easier, faster, and safer.

Next year's conference is provisionally scheduled for 19th-23rd April. See you there!


Posted by Anna at 15:04 | Get Link

 

Visual Studio 2013, PC-lint and C++ 11 Variadic Templates
Monday, February 23, 2015

Although we added support for Visual Studio 2013 some time ago, PC-lint has lagged behind somewhat and even now (well over a year after it was released) has difficulty analysing any projects for it which use the Standard Template Library (STL) to any significant extent.

In large part this is due to the fact that PC-lint has to date lacked support for C++ 11 variadic templates (which are heavily used in parts of the Visual Studio 2013 system headers). With PC-lint 9.00L (the current patch level) even a simple #include <map> will trigger an internal error (9.00k was less vocal, but still raised errors you had to suppress).

Although this was not a huge problem when Visual Studio 2013 first came out (most development teams take their time moving to new versions of Visual Studio), it is now sufficiently mature that many teams are moving to it, and that's potentially a big problem if you also use PC-lint. The arrival of the free Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition has of course accelerated this trend.

Although we were expecting this to have been fixed by Gimpel around the middle of last year they apparently found that doing so proved to be far trickier than anticipated, with the end result that this limitation has become an increasingly large problem. The latest information we have is that there will be a beta with full support for variadic templates available sometime in March, so at least there is now some light at the end of this particular tunnel.

However, that does probably mean that there won't be a complete "production" fix for at least a couple of months after that. Hence we have been looking at potential workarounds (with one of our customers who is in the process of moving their codebase to Visual Studio 2013 and has run into this issue) to see what we can do in the meantime.

The most promising approach we have identified so far is actually very simple - just substitute the system headers for an earlier version of Visual Studio while analysing Visual Studio 2013 projects by modifying the -i directives for the system headers, while leaving the rest of the analysis configuration unchanged. The major caveat is of course that you need to have an earlier version of Visual Studio co-installed, but in practice that's pretty common.

The second caveat is that you may run into problems if you are using STL functionality (e.g. std::make_unique) which is implemented in the Visual Studio 2013 system headers but absent from earlier versions. Even then, there are workarounds in some cases - it really depends on what you use in your projects. It also goes without saying that the workaround can't handle any code you write in your own projects which uses variadic templates directly.

Given all that however it does seem to work rather well (it even seems to make it practical to analyse Visual Studio 2013 projects with PC-lint 8.0, which is an unexpected bonus!) and as a result we've decided to build this into Visual Lint so that it can take care of it automatically (but optionally, of course) for you when it determines that you are using PC-lint 9.00L or earlier. For now we've limited it to using the system headers from a Visual Studio 2012 or 2010 installation on the same machine, but we can extend that if needed.

This functionality should be out as part of Visual Lint 4.5.9.239 soon, but we are happy to release preliminary builds on a case by case basis if it will help other teams who are running into the same problem. Likewise if you have any questions about the specifics of this approach or are running into this issue (not necessarily just with Visual Studio) just let us know and we will be happy to help.

Update: The build is now available. Download Visual Lint 4.5.9.239


Posted by Anna at 18:19 | Get Link

 

How Visual Lint parses projects and makefiles
Thursday, November 6, 2014

Code analysis tools can require a lot of configuration to be useful. Whilst some (e.g. Vera++ or cpplint.py) need very little configuration to make use if effectively, others such as PC-lint (and even, to a lesser extent, CppCheck) may need to be fed pretty much the same configuration as the compiler itself to be useful. As a result the command lines you need to use with some analysis tools are pretty complex in practice (which is of course a disincentive to using them, and so where Visual Lint comes in. But I digress...).

In fact, more capable code analysis tools may need to be given even more information than the compiler iteself to generate meaningful results - for example they may need to be configured with the built-in preprocessor settings of the compiler itself. In a PC-lint analysis configuration, this is part of the job compiler indirect files such as co-msc110.lnt do.

As a result of the above, a product such as Visual Lint which effectively acts as a "front end" to complex (and almost infinitely configurable) code analysis tools like PC-lint needs to care about the details of how your compiler actually sees your code every bit as much as the analysis tool itself does.

What this means in practice is that Visual Lint needs be able to determine the properties of each project it sees and understand how they are affected by the properties of project platforms, configurations and whatever compiler(s) a project uses. When it generates an analysis command line, it may need to reflect those properties so that the analysis tool sees the details of the preprocessor symbols, include folders etc. each file in the project would normally be compiled with - including not only the properties exposed in the corresponding project or makefile, but also built-in symbols etc. normally provided by the corresponding compiler.

That's a lot of data to get right, and inevitably sometimes there will be edge cases where don't quite get it right the first time. It goes without saying that if you find one of those edge cases - please tell us!

So, background waffle over - in this post I'm going to talk about one of the things Visual Lint does - parsing project files to identify (among other things) the preprocessor symbols and include folders for each file in order to be able to reflect this information in the analysis tool configuration.

When analysing with CppCheck, preprocessor and include folder data read in this way can be included on the generated command line as -D and -I directives. Although we could do the same with PC-lint, it is generally better to write the preprocessor and include folder configuration to an indirect ("project.lnt") file which also includes details of which implementation (.c, .cpp, .cxx etc.) files are included in the project -as well as any other project specific options. For example:

// Generated by Visual Lint 4.5.6.233 from file: SourceVersioner_vs90.vcproj
// -dConfiguration=Release|Win32

//
-si4 -sp4                     // Platform = "Win32"
                              //
+ffb                          // ForceConformanceInForLoopScope = "TRUE"
-D_UNICODE;UNICODE            // CharacterSet = "1"
-DWIN32;NDEBUG;_CONSOLE       // PreprocessorDefinitions = "WIN32;NDEBUG;_CONSOLE"
-D_CPPRTTI                    // RuntimeTypeInfo = "TRUE"
-D_MT                         // RuntimeLibrary = "0"
                              //
                              // AdditionalIncludeDirectories = ..\Include"
-save -e686                   //
  -i"..\Include"              //
-restore                      //
                              //
                              // SystemIncludeDirectories = "
                              //   F:\Projects\Libraries\boost\boost_1_55_0;
                              //   C:\Program Files (x86)\
                              //       Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\VC\include;

                              //   C:\Program Files (x86)\
                              //       Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\VC\atlmfc\include;

                              //   C:\Program Files\
                              //       Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v6.0A\include;

                              //   F:\Projects\Libraries\Wtl\8.1\Include"
                              //
-save -e686                   //
 +libdir(F:\Projects\Libraries\boost\boost_1_55_0)
 +libdir("C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\VC\include")
 +libdir("C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\VC\atlmfc\include")
 +libdir("C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v6.0A\include")
 +libdir("C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v6.0A\include")
 +libdir(F:\Projects\Libraries\Wtl\8.1\Include)
 -iF:\Projects\Libraries\boost\boost_1_55_0
 -i"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\VC\include"
 -i"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\VC\atlmfc\include"
 -i"C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v6.0A\include"
 -iF:\Projects\Libraries\Wtl\8.1\Include
-restore                      //
                              //
SourceVersioner.cpp           // RelativePath = "SourceVersioner.cpp"
SourceVersionerImpl.cpp       // RelativePath = "SourceVersionerImpl.cpp"
stdafx.cpp                    // RelativePath = "stdafx.cpp"
Shared\FileUtils.cpp          // RelativePath = "Shared\FileUtils.cpp"
Shared\FileVersioner.cpp      // RelativePath = "Shared\FileVersioner.cpp"
Shared\PathUtils.cpp          // RelativePath = "Shared\PathUtils.cpp"
Shared\ProjectConfiguration.cpp
                              // RelativePath = "Shared\ProjectConfiguration.cpp"
Shared\ProjectFileReader.cpp  // RelativePath = "Shared\ProjectFileReader.cpp"
Shared\SolutionFileReader.cpp // RelativePath = "Shared\SolutionFileReader.cpp"
Shared\SplitPath.cpp          // RelativePath = "Shared\SplitPath.cpp"
Shared\StringUtils.cpp        // RelativePath = "Shared\StringUtils.cpp"
Shared\XmlUtils.cpp           // RelativePath = "Shared\XmlUtils.cpp"

A file like this is written for every project configuration we analyse, but the mechanism used to actually read the configuration data from projects varies slightly depending on the project type and structure.

In the case of the Visual Studio 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2008 .vcproj files Visual Lint was originally designed to work with, this is straightforward as the project file contains virtually all of the information needed in a simple to read, declarative form. Hence to parse a .vcproj file we simply load its contents into an XML DOM object and query the properties in a straightforward manner. Built-in preprocessor symbols such as _CPPUNWIND are defined by reading the corresponding properties (EnableExceptions in the case above) or inferred from the active platform etc.

Similarly, for Visual C++ 6.0 and eMbedded Visual C++ 4.0 project files we just parse the compiler command lines in the .dsp or .vcp file directly. This is pretty straightforward as well as although .dsp and .vcp files are really makefiles they have a very predictable structure. Some other development environments (e.g. Green Hills MULTI, CodeVisionAVR) have bespoke project file formats which are generally easy to parse using conventional techniques.

Visual Studio 2010, 2012 and 2013 .vcxproj project files are far more tricky, as the MSBuild XML format they use is effectively a scripting language rather than a declarative format. To load them, we effectively have to execute them (but obviously without running the commands they contain).

As you can imagine this is rather tricky! We basically had to write a complete MSBuild parsing engine* for this task, which effectively executes the MSBuild script in memory with defined parameters to identifiy its detailed properties.

* Although there are MSBuild APIs which could conceivably help, there are implemented in managed code - which we can't use in a plug-in environment due to .NET framework versioning restrictions. Instead, our MSBuild parsing engine is written natively in C++.

To work out the parameters to apply to the MSBuild script, we prescan the contents of the .vcxproj file to identify the configurations and platforms available. Once we have those, we can run the script in memory and inspect the properties it generates for the required build configuration. This process is also used with CodeGear C++ and Atmel Studio projects, both of which are MSBuild based.

Eclipse projects (.project and .cproject files) are also XML based and are not too difficult to parse, but whereas it is straightforward to work out how things are defined in a .vcproj file, Eclipse project files are much less clearly defined and more variable (not surprising as they effectively represent serialised Java object data).

To make matters worse, each compiler toolchain can have its own sub-format, so things can change in very subtle ways between based projects for different Eclipse based environments such as Eclipse/CDT, QNX Momentics and CodeWarrior. In addition, Eclipse C/C++ projects come in two flavours - managed builder and makefile.

Of the two, managed builder projects are easy to deal with - for example to determine the built-in settings of the compiler in a managed builder we read the scanner (*.sc) file produced by the IDE when it builds the project, and add that data to the configuration data we have been able to read from the project file.

The scanner (.sc) file is a simple XML file located within the Eclipse workspace .metadata folder. Here's an extract to give you an idea what it looks like:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="no"?>
<?scdStore version="2"?>
<scannerInfo id="org.eclipse.cdt.make.core.discoveredScannerInfo">
<instance id="cdt.managedbuild.config.gnu.mingw.exe.debug.116390618;
  cdt.managedbuild.config.gnu.mingw.exe.debug.116390618.;
  cdt.managedbuild.tool.gnu.cpp.compiler.mingw.exe.debug.1888704458;
  cdt.managedbuild.tool.gnu.cpp.compiler.input.391761176">
<collector id="org.eclipse.cdt.make.core.PerProjectSICollector">
<includePath path="c:\mingw\bin\../lib/gcc/mingw32/4.5.2/include/c++"/>
<includePath path="c:\mingw\bin\../lib/gcc/mingw32/4.5.2/include/c++/mingw32"/>
<includePath path="c:\mingw\bin\../lib/gcc/mingw32/4.5.2/include/c++/backward"/>
<includePath path="c:\mingw\bin\../lib/gcc/mingw32/4.5.2/../../../../include"/>
<includePath path="c:\mingw\bin\../lib/gcc/mingw32/4.5.2/include"/>
<includePath path="c:\mingw\bin\../lib/gcc/mingw32/4.5.2/include-fixed"/>
<definedSymbol symbol="__STDC__=1"/>
<definedSymbol symbol="__cplusplus=1"/>
<definedSymbol symbol="__STDC_HOSTED__=1"/>
<definedSymbol symbol="__GNUC__=4"/>
<definedSymbol symbol="__GNUC_MINOR__=5"/>
<definedSymbol symbol="__GNUC_PATCHLEVEL__=2"/>
<definedSymbol symbol="__GNUG__=4"/>
<definedSymbol symbol="__SIZE_TYPE__=unsigned int"/>
    .
    .
    .
</collector>
</instance>
</scannerInfo>

Unfortunately scanner files are not generated for makefile projects, and the enclosing project files do not give details of the preprocessor symbols and include folders needed to analyse them. So how do we do it?

The answer is similar to the way we load MSBuild projects - by running the makefile without executing the commands within. In this case however the make tools themselves can (fortunately!) lend a hand, as both NMake and GNU Make have an option which runs the makefile and echoes the commands which would be executed without actually running them. For NMake this is /n and GNU Make -n or --just-print.

The /B (NMake) -B (GNU Make) switch can also be used to ensure that all targets are executed regardless of the build status of the project (otherwise we wouldn't be able to read anything if the project build was up to date).

If we run a makefile with these switches and capture the output we can then parse the compiler command lines themselves and extract preprocessor symbols etc. from it. As so many compilers have similar command line switches for things like preprocessor symbols and include folders this is generally a pretty straightforward matter. Many variants of GCC also have command line options which can report details of built-in preprocessor symbols and system include folders, which we can obviously make use of - so the fact that many embedded C/C++ compilers today are based on GCC is very useful indeed.

There's a lot of detail I've not covered here, but I hope you get the general idea. It follows from the above that adding support for new project file types to Visual Lint is generally not difficult - provided we have access to representative project files and (preferably) a test installation of the IDE in question. If there is a project file type you would like us to look at, please tell us.


Posted by Anna at 12:32 | Get Link

 

Business of Software Conference Europe
Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Kathy Sierra on 'Motivation Matters' at Business of Software Europe

Our founder Anna attended the Business of Software Europe Conference in Cambridge last week, and it was quite something indeed.

Although the Business of Software Conference has been running for several years in the USA, this is the first year an event has been held in Europe (and what better a place than Cambridge?). The conference covered everything from live Python telephony to the psychology of the internet and the organisation and management of sales teams, so it was pretty diverse.

If you are interested in more than just coding, this is an event we can strongly recommend. Photos and videos from the conference should be online soon, so if you are interested please stay tuned.


Posted by Anna at 10:34 | Get Link

 

Visual Lint and Windows Driver Kit (WDK) projects
Tuesday, April 02, 2013

We have recently been working with Don Burn on PC-lint analysis of Windows Driver Kit (WDK) projects, and he has written an interesting article on the subject titled "Another Look at Lint" in the March-April 2013 issue of the NT Insider.

Within the article you will find the following rather complementary passage:

Finally the ultimate tool for using PC-lint with the WDK is Riverblade's Visual Lint. This is a third party tool providing an integrated package that works inside VS2012. The tool is an add-on to PC-lint which you must still purchase. The capabilities include background analysis of the project, coded display listings that - like Visual Studio - clicking on the error takes you to the line to edit and provides easy lookup of the description of the errors. The latest version of Visual Lint (4.0.2.198) is required for use with the WDK. The tool has a minor bug that if there are two subprojects with the same name, such as filter in the Toaster sample, one needs to be renamed for analysis to work. A fix is in the works.

To use Visual Lint with the WDK choose LintLdx.lnt as the standard lint configuration file for the tool. There is a 30-day free trial of Visual Lint available so if you are considering PC-lint, take a look at what Visual Lint can add to the experience. I expect to be using it for much of my work.

Our thanks to Don Burn for his patience while we worked through the issues raised by the analysis of WDK projects. As a postscript, a fix for the bug he refers to above has already been checked in and should become available in the next public Visual Lint build (most likely 4.0.3.200).


Posted by Anna at 16:29 | Get Link

 

Visual Studio 2012 theme support
Thursday, Aug 2, 2012

One of the unexpected (and I would suggest from the comments, unwelcome) changes sprung on developers in the Visual Studio 2012 Beta back in February was the Metroification of the development environment.

However, eye candy (and eyesores!) come and go, and within that change is a more fundamental one - direct support for themes within the Visual Studio IDE. The Visual Studio 2012 Beta and RC include two themes - light (i.e. grey) and dark. Whilst the latter has an obvious appeal within the developer community (we all know devs who prefer green text on a black background) the former hasn't exactly been welcomed, to say the least.

Personally, rather than develop custom theme support for each tool individually I wish they'd just add a "dark" theme to Windows instead and respect the theme settings of the operating system. Obviously my view just isn't "cool" enough for the Visual Studio UX team, but I digress...

Although a campaign to retain the existing Visual Studio 2010 theme has been running on the UserVoice site since the beta arrived (see Add some color to Visual Studio 11 and Leave VS 2010 theme (and the theme editor extension) as an option) Microsoft have not indicated what - if any - changes will be made to the Visual Studio 2012 themes at RTM.

Our working assumption therefore has to be that the themes in the RTM will be broadly comparable with those in the RC (i.e. light and dark). We will find out whether that assumption is correct later this month, of course.

With that in mind, we have been working on theme support in the development branch for Visual Lint for some time now, and things are now beginning to come together:

Visual Lint running with the Visual Studio 2012 RC dark theme

Visual Lint running with the Visual Studio 2012 RC light theme

As Visual Lint uses standard Win32 controls for most of the UI (which for the most part do not support custom text/background colours), to get this far we have had to write custom painted WTL checkbox, radio button, combobox and header controls in addition to the usual WM_CTLCOLORxxxx voodoo. Other UI elements such as menus, scrollbars, command buttons etc. yet haven't yet been looked at, but hopefully will be in due course (there seems to be some indication in the MSDN blogs that scollbars will be auto-themed by the RTM, but we'll see).

Within the displays themselves, the text and background colours of each item are checked for adequate contrast, and the text colour adjusted (by tweaking the luminance) automatically if need be.

Although the Visual Studio interfaces expose the colours used in the active theme (via IVsUIShell2::GetVSSysColorEx() ), they do not seem to provide any way of detecting if the theme has changed (or indeed, finding out which theme is actually running at the time). Our workaround for this is simply to reload the colour scheme whenever the "Tools|Options" command has been executed. We don't really care which theme is running after all - just what colour values it uses, and where.

Indeed, one of the first things we did while working on this was to dump all of the colour values used by the VS2012 RC light & dark themes, as well as the default VS2010 theme, into spreadsheets so we could use them for testing without firing up a host instance of the IDE (developing add-ins may be fun, but it is also much slower than working on your own executable).

Finally, it is a little known fact that the Visual Studio IDE has had colour scheme support internally for some time, so the scheme we have designed will also work with Visual Studio 2010 if you have the theme editor extension installed:

Visual Lint running with Visual Studio 2010 with a modified 'Expression' theme

Needless to say, all of this is proving to be a major task, and it has therefore diverted significant resources from other things we should really have been working on this summer. As a consolation, the theme code we're developing is generic (albeit only on Windows), so can also be used with Eclipse 4.0 (I note that themes are coming to that IDE as well) when the time comes.

Another obvious benefit is of course that there's potentially at least one new CodeProject article (want a themed XP button with a custom background colour? We know how to do it now) in all of this once the dust settles and the inevitable bugs have crawled away. It's about time I wrote a new one, anyway.

Once Visual Lint theme support is complete, we'll obviously also take a look at ResOrg. Beyond that, I think a new article is a foregone conclusion, once we've cleaned the code up a bit and built a good enough demo project...


Posted by Anna at 12:45 | Get Link

 

Introducing VisualLintGui
Friday, April 20, 2012

If you have been following me (@annajayne) on Twitter, you may have noticed me talking about something called "VisualLintGui".

This is actually the second of two projects (the first being VisualLintConsole - the command line version of Visual Lint) we got underway after the release of Visual Lint 3.0.

Now that VisualLintConsole (the command line version of Visual Lint) is out in the wild, we have turned our attention to VisualLintGui. This is, as the name suggests, a standalone Visual Lint application with a graphical user interface - basically a text editor focused on code analysis:

Although it has been fully functional in terms of analysis functions for quite some time, until recently we were not able to devote a great deal of time to the details of its user interface. That has now changed, and since February VisualLintGui has gained many essential capabilities including a syntax colouring editor with analysis issue markers, MDI tabs, Find/Replace and Source/Header flip to name but a handful of the more obvious recent changes.

VisualLintGui is currently capable of analysing projects for Visual Studio, Visual C++, Eclipse, CodeGear C++ and AVR Studio 5.0, but it can obviously potentially analyse a far wider variety of codebases than that.

Indeed, one of the reasons we have been keen to develop it is to provide a way to support embedded IDEs for which developing a Visual Lint plug-in is not a viable proposition. As such we expect to add support for further project and workspace file formats as and when our customers need them.

VisualLintGui currently resides in our Visual Lint development branch, but given the recent pace of development on it we are likely to look at porting it back into Visual Lint 3.5 in the not too distant future.

In the meantime we will have a development build on our stand at the ACCU Conference next week, so if you are going please do come and take a look.


Posted by Anna at 15:23 | Get Link

 

ResOrg 2.0 has been released
Sunday, January 22, 2012

Well, it's done. After a rather extended incubation period ResOrg 2.0.0.15 (the first public ResOrg 2.0 build) was uploaded earlier this morning, and the ResOrg product pages updated to match.

If you have used ResOrg 1.x before, you will notice that the user interface of ResOrg 2.0 is subtly different from its predecessor - notably in the Visual Studio plug-in (which now of course supports Visual Studio 2008 and 2010...).

In particular, the old (and rather limited) "ResOrg.NET Explorer" toolwindow has been replaced by a much more useful "Symbol Files Display" which is also available in the standalone application.

If you are using Visual Studio 2010, it might interest you to know that ResOrg 2.0 can automatically update Ribbon Designer (.mfcribbon-ms) files when an ID referenced in a ribbon resource is renumbered.

I won't include any screenshots in this post as a couple of good ones were included in the previous post, however if you are reading this post in your RSS reader you can find them at http://www.riverblade.co.uk/blog.php?archive=2011_12_01_archive.xml#2011121501.


Posted by Anna at 11:24 | Get Link

 

Visual Lint and Atmel AVR Studio 5
Friday, September 16, 2011

From our perspective one of the more intriguing embedded environments to appear recently is Atmel's AVR Studio 5.

When I first saw a screenshot of this IDE (it was mentioned in a post in the CodeProject Lounge) it was immediately obvious that this was some sort of Visual Studio derivative.

In fact, although it uses GCC toolchains, the environment is based on the Visual Studio 2010 isolated shell (which incidentally is something we briefly considered using ourselves for a future standalone GUI version of Visual Lint, but decided against because of its complexity and the size of the download).

It obviously occured to us then that as a Visual Studio derivative, it shouldn't be too difficult to get Visual Lint running within it. The first step was obviously to install the IDE in a VM (XP SP3 - doesn't XP look a bit old these days...?) and experiment with some projects.

AVR Studio 5 codebases uses the Visual Studio 2010 solution file format (albeit rebadged as a .avrsln file) and a new MSBuild based project file format (.avrgccproj), so the first thing we obviously had to do was implement parsers for these files (something that will also benefit LintProject Pro, of course). Once that was done, we turned our attention to getting Visual Lint to load within the IDE itself.

This turned out to be fairly straightforward. Although AVR Studio 5 does not seem to support COM add-in registration in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE (which is how the Visual Lint add-in registers in Visual Studio), the corresponding registration in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Atmel\AVRStudio\5.0\AddIns does work. Although this is problematical from an installation point of view (see my previous post on the Visual Studio 11 Developer Preview) it is not a showstopper by any means.

With manual add-in registration in place, Visual Lint loaded within the IDE. Although a few minor tweaks were needed to work around issues such as AVR reporting itself as "Visual Studio Express Edition, version 1.0" (which caused the version detection code in Visual Lint to default to 16 colour command bitmaps!) those were easily addressed.

As a result, we now have AVR Studio 5 running with a development build of Visual Lint:

Visual Lint running within AVR Studio 5

Visual Lint running within AVR Studio 5

Although we still have quite a bit to do (not least the code editor markers and installer) before AVR Studio 5 can become a supported host environment for Visual Lint this is a very promising start. Needless to say, beta testers are welcome.


Posted by Anna at 16:17 | Get Link