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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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Visual Lint has been released
Friday, March 6, 2015

This is a recommended maintenance update for Visual Lint 4.5. The following changes are included:

  • Added a "Use VS2012/VS2010 system headers for compatibility with PC-lint 9.00l or earlier" option to the "Analysis Tool" options page. When enabled (the default) Visual Lint will attempt to use the system headers for Visual Studio 2012 or 2010 instead while analysing VS2013 projects.

    This is a workaround for the fact that PC-lint 9.00l and earlier do not have support for variadic templates, which are used in the system headers for Visual Studio 2013 onwards and can cause analysis failures as a result.

    Please note that this is potentially a breaking change as it will prevent PC-lint from accessing STL features (e.g. std::make_unique) added in Visual Studio 2013 - please contact us if you have any queries about the effects of this.
  • Modified the Visual C++ 2010/2012/2013 project (.vcxproj) file parser for compatibility with project files (typically generated by third party applications) which have <PlatformToolset> elements with incorrect capitalisation (although MSBuild is case sensitive, apparently Visual Studio is more tolerant in this area).
  • If PC-lint is the active analysis tool, Visual Lint now takes into account whether a std.lnt indirect file has been specifically defined for a given project type when determining whether the Configuration Wizard should be run.
  • The Configuration Wizard "Tools" page now always shows the "Configure for..." drop list, irrespective of the host environment.

Download Visual Lint

Posted by Anna at 12:14 | 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 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

Posted by Anna at 18:19 | Get Link


Visual Lint has been released
Monday, February 16, 2015

This is a recommended maintenance update for Visual Lint 4.5. The following changes are included:

  • Added support for the analysis of IAR Embedded Workbench projects to VisualLintGui and VisualLintConsole.
  • C/C++ header files are now shown separately in the Analysis Status Display when Vera++ is the active analysis tool (in the same way as with
  • Code editor markers (generated by manual analysis etc.) are no longer shown for files/projects which are excluded from background analysis.
  • Fixed a bug in the handling of solution/project specific PC-lint analysis configurations which could cause the warning policy ("options.lnt") indirect file configured for a specific solution or project to be ignored in certain circumstances.
  • Fixed a bug in the Analysis Results Display which caused the "Show issues in header files" checkbox to be incorrectly shown if was the active analysis tool.
  • PC-lint MISRA messages in the range 9100-9199 are now correctly categorised as Elective Notes.

Posted by Anna at 12:37 | Get Link


Visual Lint has been released
Monday, January 5, 2015

This is a recommended maintenance update for Visual Lint 4.5. The following changes are included:

  • Added support for Keil uVision 4 projects to VisualLintGui and VisualLintConsole.
  • Fixed a bug in the handling of analysis configurations by VisualLintGui and VisualLintConsole.
  • Fixed a bug which could cause a file open operation to fail within the Visual Studio plug-in.
  • Fixed a bug which could cause files which are excluded from analysis (or files within projects which are excluded from analysis) to be included in background analysis when a file is saved.
  • Various minor optimisations to the solution loading process.
  • The "Delete Analysis Results" and "Start Background Analysis" commands are now disabled until the solution has finished loading.
  • Corrected the URL of the "more information" link on the "Analysis" Options page.

Posted by Anna at 11:11 | Get Link


Visual Lint has been released
Monday, November 24, 2014

This is a maintenance update for Visual Lint 4.5. The following changes are included:

  • Fixed a bug in the generation of PC-lint analysis command lines for files analysed with the -pch option.
  • When a PC-lint analysis task corresponding to a PCH generation file (e.g. stdafx.cpp) starts, the corresponding PCH object (.lph) file is now explicitly deleted before PC-lint is invoked.
  • Fixed a bug which was preventing custom PC-lint issue categories from being loaded correctly.
  • Fixed a bug in the VisualLintGui code editor "Open Referenced File" context menu command which could cause header files referenced via project additional include folder properties to fail to be located.
  • Fixed a bug which prevented header files from being analysed with the Google C++ Style Checker (
  • Adjusted the priority and timing of IncrediBuild analysis results parsing tasks.
  • Improved the handling of IncrediBuild analysis tasks in VisualLintConsole.
  • Added details of PC-lint 9.00l messages 29, 94, 169, 330, 486, 488, 489, 491, 1112, 1113, 1120, 1121, 1122, 1123, 1124, 1125, 1126, 1127, 1723, 1751, 9063, 9064 and 9067-9166 to the PC-lint 9.0 message database. Also updated the entries for 165, 170, 312, 435, 436, 516, 665, 686, 690, 836, 838, 845, 905, 967, 1096, 1102, 1104, 1111, 1119, 1417, 1419, 9011, 9022, 9033 and 9066.
  • Updated various PC-lint indirect files as a result of the public release of PC-lint 9.00l.
  • The titlebar captions of the Registration Key dialog and VisualLintGui main window now include the major/minor version of the product.

Posted by Anna at 10:58 | 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 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 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("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")
 -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"
-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"
                              // 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;
<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"/>

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


PC-lint 9.00l has been released
Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Gimpel have just released PC-lint 9.00l - which looks to be a pretty important update to PC-lint 9.0 over the previous build (9.00k). You can download patch itself and updated versions of the corresponding support files from the PC-lint 9.0 patch page.

This update significantly improves MISRA and C++ 11 support, so if you are using MISRA, have C++ 11 code or are using Visual Studio 2012 onwards this is very much a recommended update.

Some C++ 14 features (e.g. binary literals and digit separators) are also now supported if the -A(C++2014) option is active. Details of the major changes included in the patch are available at, from which the relevant extracts are reproduced below:

          * This patch contains significantly enhanced support for MISRA
            C3 (MISRA C 2012).  A number of new messages to support MISRA
            C3 have been added and the au-misra3.lnt author file has been
            updated accordingly.  We now provide some level of support
            for all but 3 of the decidable rules and 4 of the undecidable
            rules, with full support being provided for the vast majority
            of the rules.

          * We have broken out the 1960/1963 diagnostics (used to support
            MISRA C++) into individual messages to provide a greater level
            of control and flexibility, especially with regards to message
            suppression.  The 1960/1963 messages will continue to be
            supported for backwards compatibility.  A new author file,
            au-misra-cpp-alt.lnt, can be used to take advantage of the
            new messages in place of the 1960/1963 messages.

          * We have improved support for MISRA C 2004, namely with regards
            to rules #8.8, #6.2, and #8.9.

          * We have improved support for MISRA C++, namely with regards to
            rules #7-3-1, #9-6-2, and #9-6-4,

          * We now provide significantly improved support for VS2012
            through an updated co-msc110.lnt file, available on our
            patches page.

          * Patch 9.00L introduces support for range-based for statements,
            the 'final' class specifier, standard layout types, improved
            handling of null pointer constants, significantly improved
            handling of C++11 core language features used in Visual Studio
            2012 headers.  As with other C++ 2011 features, these are
            available using the option: -A(C++2011).

          * We now support binary literals and digit separators from
            C++14.  These features are available using the option:

          * We now support the use of message numbers and patterns with
            the +efreeze/-efreeze and ++efreeze options.  For example,
            ++efreeze(534) will prevent later-appearing options from
            suppressing message 534 without affecting the frozen status
            of other messages.

          * We now support C11's _Static_assert (when using -A(C2011)).

          * The Program Info facility now includes flags for indicating
            when a function has been declared with the final or override
            specifiers and when a class has been declared with final.

          * Multiple '-deprecate()' options can now be used to combine
            deprecation messages. Such joined messages appear separated
            by commas.  For example:

              -deprecate(function, printf, Directive #2SFH)
              -deprecate(function, printf, Recommendation #LCD1C)

            would result in

              Warning 586: variable 'printf' is deprecated. Directive
                     #2SFH, Recommendation #LCD1C

            whenever 'printf()' is called.


          We have decided to disable strong type deduction as it was
          responsible for incorrect type deduction in certain cases that did
          not involve strong types.  This feature will be revisited in a
          future release.

Full details of the bugfixes also included in the patch (the contents are too long to list here!) are available at

Note that from our own experience running beta versions of this update some additional suppression directives for warnings 1509 and 1510 may be required to prevent unnecessary warnings being generated by classes derived from those within frameworks such as ATL and WTL.

We are in the process of updating our own indirect files to include appropriate suppression directives, but if you find you need assistance with specific occurances (or have suppression directives you think we should include in our files) please let us know.

As the update also adds quite a few new PC-lint messages we will also be updating the PC-lint message database installed with the next Visual Lint build (

Posted by Anna at 17:20 | Get Link


Visual Lint has been released
Monday, October 6, 2014

This is a maintenance update for Visual Lint 4.5. The following changes are included:

  • Fixed a bug which could cause the Visual Studio plug-in to miss changes to the active project configuration.
  • Added a status message to the Visual Studio plug-in to identify when the active configuration has changed.
  • Fixed a bug which could cause system include folders to be read incorrectly from Visual Studio 2012/13 projects which use the Intel C++ Compiler.
  • Fixed a bug in VisualLintGui which was preventing accelerators from being translated correctly by the main frame window when no MDI windows were open.
  • Various updates to the helpfile.

Posted by Anna at 11:29 | Get Link


Online Abuse - a statement
Monday, September 15, 2014

On Friday we became aware of the following abusive tweet directed at our founder Anna:

Abusive tweet screenshot

Needless to say we were taken aback that anyone would direct such abuse at any of our staff, though given the nastiness directed recently towards some women in the games sector and and some of the incidents documented by Everyday Sexism perhaps we should not have been surprised that it would happen sooner or later. We note that they were too cowardly to write under their own name, but did so anonymously.

Riverblade is a small business, and the wellbeing of our staff is very important to us. We value people not for how much they fit in, but for who they are and what they are capable of. We don't discriminate, and won't judge.

We will however call out bigotry and bullying whenever we see it - hence this statement.

Shortly after Anna drew attention to the tweet we received a phone call from one of the organisers of Agile on the Beach (whose conference hashtag the abuser had posted on) expressing their horror and asking if there was anything they could do. We told them not to worry, but that we would issue a statement and report the user account in question (both of which we have done). Others have also expressed their support via various channels, and for that we are very grateful.

We are also very well aware that this incident absolutely pales into insignificance next to the nastiness that some women in our industry (notably Zoe Quinn) have recently been subjected to. Nevertheless, the principle is the same - this is not acceptable behaviour and we will not let it go unnoticed.

We know that the fact that the abuser hid behind an anonymous account makes it less likely we'll ever be able to confront them directly, but that doesn't change anything. The anonymous account the abuser used is included in the Level 2 blocks within The Block Bot, so if you are the target of online abuse we recommend you consider making use of it. Also, make sure you have support you can call on - please don't suffer alone.

Finally, a message for the abuser. If you can't be bothered to grow up, at least try to use your brain and realise that you can easily turn off the blog feed in Visual Lint from the Options Displays page.

On second thoughts don't bother - we don't want people like you as a customer. Go away until you learn to treat people with respect.

Posted by Admin at 14:59 | Get Link


Agile on the Beach 2014 - #agileotb
Thursday, September 4, 2014

This week we are exhibiting at the Agile on the Beach Conference in Falmouth.

Agile on the Beach

If you weren't able to make it here, a glance at the #agileotb Tweet stream for the event should give a feel for the event:

I will be presenting a lunchtime session titled "Agile Warning Policies" just after lunch. Slides will be uploaded here soonish!

Posted by Anna at 11:19 | Get Link


Agile Warning Policies on the Beach
Tuesday, September 2, 2014

We're going to the Beach. Are you...?

Our founder Anna is presenting a talk titled "Agile Warning Policies" at the Agile on the Beach conference this Thursday lunchtime. If you are going to the conference, we'll see you there!

If you want to follow the conference on Twitter, the hashtag to watch is #AgileOTB.

Posted by Anna at 22:19 | Get Link


Visual Lint has been released
Friday, July 25, 2014

This is a maintenance update for Visual Lint 4.5. The following changes are included:

  • Added support for the analysis of Atmel Studio 6.2 projects.
  • Added support for the analysis of Altera Nios II EDS Eclipse projects.
  • Added support for the analysis of NVidia CUDU C/C++ files (i.e. those with .cu and .cuh file extensions).
  • If a Visual Studio PCH generation file (e.g. stdafx.cpp) is excluded from analysis, a per-file analysis of the project will automatically fall back on non-PCH analysis.
  • If the generation of a PC-lint .lph (precompiled header object) file fails the remaining files within that project will now be analysed using non-PCH analysis.
  • When a property (e.g. preprocessor symbols) within a Visual Studio project is changed the Visual Studio plug-in will now detect the change when the project file is saved.
  • The _TCHARMapping property is now read when parsing CodeGear C++ projects.
  • Fixed a potential bug in the display state of toolwindows within the Visual Studio plug-in during the startup of the IDE.
  • Fixed an intermittent crash which could occur when the "Global Display Filter" context menu commands in the displays were executed.
  • Updated the company office address in the helpfile.

Posted by Anna at 16:58 | Get Link


Office Move
Friday, July 4, 2014

We have finally moved! Our new office is located within Platinum House - a serviced office complex in central Bournemouth, located less than 300 metres from the beach (very convenient for ice cream, sunbathing and surfing, if any of them are your thing).

Our new office is within Platinum House in central Bournemouth

Cool location aside, Platinum House (formerly the Kingshott Business Centre) has the usual officey things like a reception with comfy chairs, photocopiers, meeting rooms and (most importantly for any tech outfit) free coffee.

Our new registered office address is:

    Platinum House
    23 Hinton Road
    Dorset BH1 2EF
    United Kingdom

The change should be transparent, but please ensure that any purchase orders you place with us in the future reference the new address rather than the old one. Needless to say, any snail mail should also be sent to the new address.

Posted by Anna at 16:34 | Get Link


Visual Studio "14" CTP - good news, and bad news
Thursday, July 3, 2014

Microsoft have just released a Community Technical Preview (CTP) of Visual Studio "14" (the next version of Visual Studio), so naturally we have been taking a look.

Visual Studio '14' CTP

At first glance, the changes are incremental (which is surely a good thing for the developer community after the UI fiasco of the Visual Studio 2012 release). Of particular note are the changes to Visual C++ and the "C" runtime library - see Visual Studio "14" CTP and C Runtime (CRT) Features, Fixes, and Breaking Changes in Visual Studio 14 CTP1.

However, there is (for us, at least) one very significant change - Visual Studio "14" does not support add-ins, which will prevent many third party plugins from loading - including (unfortunately) both ResOrg and Visual Lint. As a result, we are currently undertaking a feasibility study to determine how much work is required in order to port the Visual Lint and ResOrg plug-ins from the add-in format to the VSPackage format (a lower level but far more flexible type of plug-in which is still supported by VS14).

Needless to say this is a major effort which introduces significant risk and additional complexity (we still have to maintain both add-ins for compatibility with earlier versions of Visual Studio...), but fortunately it is one we have already done some preparatory work towards. It is however a major distraction from other things we planned to do this year (thanks Microsoft!) so no doubt that will have consequences elseware in our development efforts. On the plus side, moving to the VSPackage format will eventually make supporting Atmel Studio (which uses the Visual Studio shell) somewhat easier.

You can get an idea of the sort of changes required to convert an add-in to a VSPackage from the blog post Strategies migrating from Visual Studio add-ins to packages. The fact that the Visual Studio automation interfaces (which are used by add-ins) are still (for now, at least) fully functional in a VSPackage environment helps, but in the long term moving away from them will probably be a good idea as Carlos suggests in the blogpost linked to above. However, for now that is unnecessary change and therefore undesirable.

I can't speak for other vendors but I can say that we started looking at this in detail as soon as we had the CTP installed a month ago. In the time since then we have been able to prototype a new ResOrg VSPackage which is almost fully functional and is helping us to identify and mitigate risk areas. There is still a lot of work to do before this can be released, but so far the signs are good.

Once ResOrg has been dealt with we hope to be able to port Visual Lint in the same manner (though as a more complex codebase it will probably take significantly longer to address). Either way, we hope to have the work complete by the Autumn.

In the meantime, ResOrg can load Visual Studio "14" projects already, and we have already made the changes necessary to allow development builds of Visual Lint to analyse Visual Studio "14" projects in VisualLintGui and VisualLintConsole. These changes are minor and can easily be merged back into the release (v4.5) branch as soon as needed.

The bottom line? Based upon previous Visual Studio releases we do not expect Visual Studio "14" to be publicly released in RTM (Release to Manufacturing) form until at least the end of the year. By then, we would hope that we will also have production ready builds of the ResOrg and Visual Lint plug-ins which are fully compatible with the new version of the IDE.

But it's still completely unnecessary work. Thanks, Microsoft.

Posted by Anna at 10:48 | 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


ACCU Conference 2014 retrospective
Monday, May 19, 2014

Another year passes, and with it another ACCU Conference.* As ever we came away exhausted but energised with a bunch of new ideas, inspirations and suggestions from those we'd met at the conference....and then needed quite a while to recover. I can't speak for others, but I certainly found it was quite a while before I felt fully back into the swing of things afterwards.

This year was the second year the conference had been at the Bristol Marriott, so there were fewer uncertainties and things went ever so slightly more smoothly than last year (and this time we had a better idea where all the best restaurants and pubs were...).

We arrived on Monday afternoon, but couldn't start setting up our stand (which this year was conveniently packed into flight cases rather than the rag-tag collection of plastic boxes we've used in the past) until Tuesday as there was another event running in the venue.

As Beth and I were both booked on to the C++ 11 preconference session that day (the idea being to use it as a refresher on some of the parts of C++ 11 we're not using yet) We set up our stand before breakfast the following morning.

Setting up our stand before breakfast on Wednesday morning

Each day generally started with a keynote at 9:30am, for which all 420 delegates (minus those who were too badly hungover, no doubt!) gathered in the largest of the conference rooms.

The remainder of the day was filled with four tracks of predominantly 90 minute sessions, culminating in an hour of lightning talks at 6am before the festivities started in the evening.

If you have never been to an ACCU Conference before, the following selection of photos will hopefully give you a feel for the event.

This year Beth and I did Nico Josuttis C++ 11 Preconference session

Nico Josuttis' C++ 11 preconference session

The main hallway during one of its busier periods

The main hallway during one of its busier periods

ACCU 2014 delegates (all 420 of them!) assemble for a keynote

ACCU 2014 delegates (all 420 of them) assemble for a keynote. The room is actually much bigger than you can see here - there is another screen to the right.

The Bloomberg Lounge (with free bar!) was back on Wednesday and Thursday evenings this year, and once again had a selection of retro gaming machines

Jim Hague - He's Not the Messiah

Jim Hague on Cinema and Myths of Leadership

Jon Jagger introducing Dan North's keynote

Jon Jagger (the Conference Chair) introducing Dan North's keynote

Dan North on why Agile doesn't scale - and what you can do about it

Dan North on why Agile doesn't scale - and what you can do about it

Continuous Delivery with Legacy Code

Dan Swain and Leon Hewitt's Continuous Delivery with Legacy Code session

The C++ Pub Quiz
The C++ Pub Quiz

Olve Maudal's C++ Pub Quiz was as popular as ever!

Lightning Talks

The programme each day concluded with an hour of Lightning Talks at 6pm. This is Thaddaeus Frogley on "The Graphics Pipeline".

Didier Verner - Biological Realms in Computer Science

Didier Verner's "Biological Realms in Computer Science" keynote

Phil Nash - Mens sana in corpore sano

Phil Nash presented a very thought provoking session on health and fitness which was especially relevant for us sedentary office workers

For once, Kevlin Henney didnnot talking about singletons for once

Kevlin Henney's talk was "Immutability FTW!", but he still managed to sneak a Singleton in!

More photos, videos, tweets and slides from the conference are also available on the ACCU 2014 Eventifier page. We hope to see you at next year's Conference!

* it was actually 6 weeks ago...Douglas would be proud.

Posted by Anna at 13:16 | Get Link


Visual Lint has been released
Monday, May 12, 2014

This is a maintenance update for Visual Lint 4.5. The following changes are included:

  • When a Visual Studio solution is loaded, its version is now determined by the projects within it rather than its own version fields. This is necessary as in some cases when Visual Studio 2012/2013 converts a solution it does not update the version of the solution file.
  • Fixed a bug in the Analysis Results Display which caused analysis results to remain displayed after a "Delete Analysis Results" operation.
  • When VisualLintGui reloads a file in response to an external change any code editor markers will now also be reloaded.
  • The current selection will now be preserved when VisualLintGui reloads a file in response to an external change.
  • If the configuration to analyse is not specified on the command line, VisualLintConsole will now choose one.
  • Fixed a project naming bug in the Green Hills project file parser.

Posted by Anna at 10:38 | Get Link


Visual Lint has been released
Monday, Mar 31, 2014

This is a maintenance update for Visual Lint 4.5. The following changes are included:

  • When a Visual Studio solution is loaded, its version is now determined by the projects within it rather than its own version fields. This is necessary as in some cases when Visual Studio 2012/2013 converts a solution it does not update the version of the solution file.
  • If a Visual Studio solution contains projects for other versions of Visual Studio (e.g. a VS2013 solution with VS2012 and VS2010 projects), the version of each project will now be taken into account when determining which PC-lint indirect files to use.
  • The "Configure for" combobox in the Config Wizard "Analysis Tools" page and Options Dialog "PC-lint" page is no longer read-only in the Visual Studio and Eclipse plug-ins.
  • Fixed an analysis results caching issue which could affect memory usage in solutions/workspaces with a large volume of analysis results.
  • Added support for Green Hills project files with nested subprojects.
  • Fixed a potential crash when Visual Lint was turned "On" in the Visual Studio or Eclipse plug-ins via the "Product Enable" command on the toolbar.
  • Corrected the text of the VisualLintConsole help screen (the documentation for /excludeproject was missing a delimiter).
  • Added statusbar prompts and tooltips respectively to those VisualLintGui main menu and toolbar commands respectively which did not have them.
  • Updated the VisualLintConsole copyright notice.

Posted by Anna at 10:24 | Get Link


Visual Lint has been released
Friday, February 21, 2013

This is a maintenance update for Visual Lint 4.5. The following changes are included:

  • Added an "Open " command to the VisualLintGui code editor context menu.
  • Added "Copy Full Path" and "Open Containing Folder" commands to the Analysis Status Display context menu.
  • Added an accelerator for the "Perform Manual Analysis" command in the Analysis Status Display context menu.
  • The "Copy to clipboard" and "View Analysis History" commands in the Analysis Status Display context menu are now correctly disabled when no solution is open.
  • Removed the erroneous "Display Filter | Show only issues with this ID" command from the Analysis Status Display context menu.
  • When the active display filter is changed any code editor markers present in open source files will now be refreshed.
  • The "MISRA Rule" column in the Analysis Results Display is now (correctly) available in Visual Lint Professional Edition and above.
  • The Visual Studio and Eclipse plug-ins now monitor files within the loaded solution/workspace in the same way as VisualLintGui.
  • When a solution/workspace is loaded, the path which will be monitored for subsequent file changes now takes into account the locations of the projects within it.
  • Removed the "Detect externally changed files" option from the VisualLintGui "Editor" Options page. This behaviour is now always enabled.
  • When VisualLintConsole determines that the analysis of a solution/workspace has been completed, it will now wait until any project include dependency tasks have completed before exiting to ensure that any files which should be marked as stale will also be reanalysed.
  • Fixed a bug which prevented the Message Lookup Display from being configured correctly in x64 builds of the Eclipse plug-in.
  • VisualLintGui now declares itself as DPI aware to prevent DPI virtualization.
  • Fixed a bug which was causing the "Auto-select Project" checkbox in the Analysis Status Display to be incorrectly sized in Visual Studio 2010, 2012 or 2013 on systems with a high DPI setting.
  • Corrected the title of the "Visual Lint 4.5" help topic to "What's new in Visual Lint 4.5?".
  • Corrected the text of the "What's New" help topic.

Posted by Anna at 10:19 | Get Link


Visual Lint 4.5 has been released
Saturday, January 18, 2014

Visual Lint 4.5 is the latest version of Visual Lint, superseding Visual Lint 4.0. As a minor update, it will also accept existing per-user Visual Lint 4.0 licences; Visual Lint 1.x, 2.x and 3.x licences must however be upgraded to work with this version.


Host Environments:
  • The Eclipse plug-in now shows the correct version in the "About Eclipse Platform Plug-ins" dialog within the IDE.
  • Renamed the Eclipse plug-in file (formerly com.riverblade.visuallint.jar) to differentiate between 32 bit (com.riverblade.visuallint.win32_x86.jar) and 64 bit (com.riverblade.visuallint.win32_x86_64.jar) builds.
  • Added support for Green Hills MULTI projects to VisualLintGui and VisualLintConsole.
  • Added support for the analysis of Analog Devices VisualDSP++ 4.0/5.0 projects to VisualLintGui and VisualLintConsole.
  • The Eclipse plug-in now writes status text to the Status Bar where appropriate.
  • When a project file within the solution/workspace source tree is changed externally, VisualLintGui will now prompt to reload it. If VisualLintGui is minimised it will flash its window on the taskbar and delay showing the prompt(s) until it is restored.
  • Accelerated the loading of Eclipse workspaces.
  • The readme and licence files within the installer now show the full build version (e.g. "") rather than just the major/minor version.
  • Tweaked the layout of PC-lint include folder (-i) and library folder (+libdir) directives within generated project indirect ("project.lnt") files for improved readability.
  • The Analysis Status Display "Delete Analysis Results" command no longer regenerates the analysis queue. As a result, any active analysis tasks not directly affected by the operation will no longer be interrupted.
  • The FxCop /gac ("Search Global Assembly Cache for missing references") option is now enabled on the FxCop command line by default. If required, it can be disabled from the new FxCop Configuration Dialog.
User Interface:
  • Added a "Show only issues with this ID" command to the Analysis Results Display context menu.
  • Added "Show all issues with this ID", "Hide all issues with this ID" and "Reset Display Filter" context menu commands to the Analysis Statistics Display context menu.
  • Duplicated analysis issues are now always filtered out. Removed the "Filter out duplicated issues" option on the Options Dialog Displays page in consequence.
  • Added optional "Rule" columns (shown or hidden via context menu commands in the two displays) to the Analysis Results and Statistics Displays for use with PC-lint MISRA analysis. Note that the contents of these columns will only be populated when the solution/workspace is reanalysed - thereafter the mapping between PC-lint message no. and MISRA rules will be cached in the registry.
  • When the Configuration Wizard is used to configure for PC-lint analysis, the new "Rule" columns in the Analysis Results and Statistics Displays are shown or hidden depending upon whether one of the MISRA indirect files (au-misra.lnt etc.) is referenced within the PC-lint analysis configuration.
  • Category issue assignments can now be changed while a solution/workspace is open.
  • Added an "Ignore issues in system header files" option to the CppCheck Analysis Configuration Dialog.
  • When the Eclipse plug-in is started it now correctly prompts to run the Configuration Wizard if necessary.
  • Double clicking on the name of an indirect file in the Configuration Wizard PC-lint library configuration or PC-lint author recommended checks pages now correctly selects or deselects it.
  • The "Find" control within the VisualLintGui "Find/Replace" dialog is now pre-filled with the selected text (or, if there is no selection, the word nearest the cursor) within the code editor.
  • Added an optional "Rule" column to file analysis reports for use with PC-lint MISRA analysis. Note that this column will only be shown if the solution/workspace is reanalysed if the MISRA "Rule" column is shown in the Analysis Results and Statistics Displays.
  • Added support for PC-lint MISRA rules to CSV and user defined exported data formats (the latter via the new $(Rule) variable).
Bug Fixes:
  • Reduced the memory usage of VisualLintConsole when the /exportformat switch is used to export large data sets.
  • Fixed a dialog parenting issue in the Eclipse plug-in.
  • The "Back" button in the Configuration Wizard "PC-lint Warning Level" page now correctly returns to the "PC-lint author recommended checks" page.
  • The variable $(SolutionExt) is now expanded while parsing Visual C# (.csproj) project files.

Posted by Anna at 12:37 | Get Link


ResOrg has been released
Thursday, December 19, 2013

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

  • Added support for Visual Studio 2010 and 2012 themes. Toolwindow colour settings are now automatically refreshed after a new theme is activated via the Theme|<name> (VS2010) or Tools|Change Color Theme (VS2012) theme editor commands.

    Note that changing the active theme via other commands in the theme editor may not result in the new theme being acted upon, as internal theme editor commands do not source events visible to third party plug-ins.
  • Added support for Visual Studio 2013.
  • If the user attempts to open file or solution which no longer exists via one of the ResOrgApp MRU lists, an error message is now displayed and the orphaned item removed.
  • Added MDI tabs to ResOrgApp.

Posted by Anna at 14:41 | Get Link


LintProject Pro has been released
Friday, Jun 7, 2013

This is a maintenance update for LintProject Pro 2.5. The following changes are included:

  • Added support for makefiles where the compiler location is explicitly specified rather than located via the system path [from Visual Lint].
  • Built-in compiler preprocessor symbols are now automatically included in the analysis configuration for makefile projects using GCC based compilers [from Visual Lint].
  • Fixed a bug in the Visual Studio 2010/2012 project (.vcxproj) file parser which affected project files which use $(MSBuildProjectDirectory) to reference the location of an external property (.props) file [from Visual Lint].
  • Fixed a bug which could prevent details of system includes for GNU makefile projects from being written to generated PC-lint project indirect files [from Visual Lint].
  • Updated the documentation for PC-lint messages 166, 510, 516, 829, 1009, 1085, 1962 and 1963 [from Visual Lint].
  • Added documentation for PC-lint message 142 ("case constant 'String' used previously in this switch") [from Visual Lint].
  • LintProjectPro can now export analysis results data in user defined formats specified using an external configuration file [from Visual Lint].
  • Duplicated analysis issues are now filtered out from the data written to export files written using the /exportfile switch [from Visual Lint].
  • Various modifications for compatibility with solutions (e.g. the WDK "Toaster" sample) in which two projects share the same name [from Visual Lint].
  • Fixed a bug in the querying of available CppCheck analysis issues via the --errorlist switch [from Visual Lint].
  • Relative pathnames within Cppheck and PC-lint analysis issues are now expanded to fully qualified pathnames for inclusion in reports and file exports.

Posted by Anna at 12:57 | 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 ( 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

Posted by Anna at 16:29 | Get Link


PC-lint compiler options files for Visual Studio 2012
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Since Visual Studio 2012 was released we have been using the compiler options files for Visual Studio 2010 (co-msc100.lnt and co-msc100.h) when analysing code for it as a set for VS2012 was not available.

For the most part that works fine, however it does mean that code which checks _MSC_VER etc. to invoke conditional behaviour may not analyse correctly in some cases.

We have now submitted dedicated PC-lint 9.0 compiler options files for Visual Studio 2012 (co-msc110.lnt and co-msc110.h) with the correct values for these symbols as given by the Visual Studio 2012 RTM. The co-msc110.lnt file also includes some suppression directives for Visual Studio 2012 unit tests.

In due course they will become available in new PC-lint 9.0 installations and via the PC-lint 9.0 patch page, however for the time being Gimpel have made them available from the PC-lint 9.0 beta page at

Incidentally the current PC-lint 9.0 beta version (9.00i2) looks like it contains some fairly significant changes to MISRA, PCH and function call side effect analysis - so that is a pretty good indication of what to expect in the next public version (PC-lint 9.00j).

Details of the changes in PC-lint 9.00i2 are available at

Posted by Anna at 09:39 | 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 (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

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