Visual TICS Getting Started Guide

If this is the first time you have used Visual TICS, you may find the following introductory information useful. Please feel free to contact us if you have any specific queries.

  1. Introduction
  2. Installation
  3. Configuration
  4. Using Visual TICS
  5. FAQ
  6. Support
  7. Visual TICS Product Page
  8. Riverblade Developer's Blog  RSS feed

 

Introduction

Visual TICS is a derivative of the Visual Lint static code analysis product which integrates the TICS static code analysis framework within the Microsoft Visual Studio integrated development environment.

Among the features which you might want to be aware of are:

  • Automatic background analysis of files and projects within the current solution. Multiple files can be analysed simultaneously, with user preferences determining the maximum number of analysis threads.
     
  • When a file is opened for editing within the IDE, the corresponding analysis results are automatically presented in a dedicated Analysis Results Display. Double clicking on an issue in either display will open the corresponding source file at the offending line and display information on what the warning actually means.
     
  • When files are saved, they are automatically queued for re-analysis.
     
  • Visual TICS is currently available for Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003, Visual Studio 2005, Visual Studio 2008 and Visual Studio 2010. Support for other IDEs can be made available subject to agreement with Tiobe (the TICS vendor).

 

Installation

If an appropriate TICS licence is present Visual TICS can be installed via the (Tiobe supplied) TICS installer. This will install the Visual TICS add-in and supporting files to the appropriate installation folder and configure all supported installations of Visual Studio to load it.

Once installed, Visual TICS commands can be invoked from the "Visual TICS" toolbar or via the corresponding commands on the "Tools" menu.

 

Configuration

Before starting to use Visual TICS it is necessary to configure it with the location of your TICS Client installation. This should be done by the TICS installer, but if for any reason this has not happened Visual TICS will prompt for the location of your TICS Client when it starts:

TICS Client folder prompt

Once set the location of the TICS Client installation will be recorded in the registry for subsequent use.

Once the location of the TICS Client has been configured, the configuration of Visual TICS itself can be adjusted, using the Visual TICS "Options" command on the toolbar and Tools menu. The following pages are available:

  • Analysis - General options related to background analysis and the handling of "stale" files (those whose analysis results may be out of date).
     
  • Displays - Options relating to the presentation of analysis results and status information.
     
  • Command Line - Options related to the TICS analysis tool command line.
     
  • TICS - Allows the TICS Client folder to be configured.
     
  • Registration - Allows entry and display of user registration information.

Note that initially Visual TICS is configured not to start background analysis of files automatically. This, and commonly used options (such as how many background analysis tasks should be run simultaneously) may be configured from the Analysis options page.

 

Using Visual TICS

Accessing the TICS Config Tool

Visual TICS provides a dedicated command to launch the Tiobe TICS Config tool. Once Visual TICS has been configured, this command will allows the TICS rules configuration and other options to be edited directly within the development environment.

 

Analysing a file manually

Once Visual TICS has been configured, a simple and effective way to test its operation is to analyse a file manually. To do this, simply open a source file (it need not be part of a project), and press the "Perform Analysis" button on the toolbar. A progress dialog will appear while the analysis takes place:

Manual Analysis

After a short delay (depending on how long TICS takes to analyse the file) the results of the analysis will be displayed in the Analysis Results Display (and optionally a dedicated pane in the Output Window):

Manual analysis completed

As you would expect, double clicking on an issue in the Analysis Results Display or Output Window will open the corresponding file in the editor.

 

Background Analysis

Background analysis allows you to carry on working whilst files are analysed in the background. Once Visual TICS has been configured correctly, background analysis can be started or paused at any time whilst the IDE is in design mode from the toolbar or menu. As the analysis of a solution progresses, Visual TICS will build up an "analysis profile" of the solution which will be cached and can be referred to at any time subsequently.

Following a build (during which analysis is automatically paused by default), any files which have been rebuilt will normally be queued for re-analysis. Previous analysis results remain available until updated, of course.

Background analysis is also of course normally paused while debugging.

 

Making use of Analysis Results

Once an analysis profile has been built up for a given solution, Visual TICS will use it to make the issues for a source file available (via the Analysis Results Display (and optionally the Output Window) when a file is opened or activated in the code editor if the IDE is in design mode.

When a file is saved, it will be queued for re-analysis automatically.

 

FAQ

Which analysis tools does Visual TICS support?

Visual TICS supports all C, C++ and C# analysis tools supported by TICS, including the following:

Language Analysis Tool Vendor
C/C++ TICSpp/TICSc Tiobe
C++ Test Parasoft
QA C/C++ Programming Research
PC-lint Gimpel
CodeSonar GrammaTech
C# ClockSharp Tiobe
FxCop Microsoft
StyleCop Microsoft

 

Which platforms does Visual TICS support?

Visual TICS has been tested on Windows 2000 SP4, Windows Server 2003 (SP1 and R2), Windows XP (SP2 and SP3), Windows Vista (RTM, SP1 and SP2), Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008. Both x86 and x64 installations are supported.

Please contact us if you have any queries about compatibility with a particular platform or service pack level.

 

Which versions of Visual Studio is Visual TICS compatible with?

Visual TICS is currently available for Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003, Visual Studio 2005, Visual Studio 2008 and Visual Studio 2010. Support for other IDEs is possible subject to agreement with Tiobe.

Please contact us if you have any queries about compatibility with a particular environment or service pack level.

 

Which editions of Visual Studio and Visual C++ is Visual TICS compatible with?

Visual TICS is compatible with all editions of Visual C++ and Visual Studio, with the exception of Visual Studio Express Editions.

This restriction is not one of our choosing - unfortunately the Visual Studio Express Editions do not allow the loading of third party add-ins and extension packages. This is a limitation imposed directly by Microsoft themselves.

 

Which versions of TICS is Visual TICS compatible with?

Visual TICS has been tested with TICS 6.1.4 onwards.

To use Visual TICS, you must have a licenced TICS installation and a valid TICS subscription which includes the optional Visual TICS component.

 

Which programming languages does Visual TICS support?

Visual TICS currently supports the same Visual Studio languages supported by TICS - namely C, C++ and C#. Support for other languages (notably Java) may be added as Visual TICS plug-ins for other environments become available.

 

How closely integrated into Visual Studio is Visual TICS?

Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Studio 2008 allow extremely close integration into the IDE. Under these environments, Visual TICS will integrate its commands into the Visual Studio menubar and command bars, and even add a "Perform Analysis" command to the context menu in the code editor. The Visual TICS toolwindows can be docked anywhere in the IDE, and can be pinned and autohidden just like any other window.

 

Can I pass my own parameters to the TICS Client executable?

Yes. The Command Line page in the Options Dialog provides a control which allows you to enter parameters to pass to the TICS Client executable.

Please contact us if you have specific requirements.

 

Support

If you have any problems, bug reports or suggestions, please email them to us at support@riverblade.co.uk. In conjunction with Tiobe, we endeavour to provide bug fixes and other support as quickly as possible.

Since we try to produce updates as often as we reasonably can, so please visit the Visual TICS page on the Riverblade website (http://www.riverblade.co.uk/products/visual_tics) for the latest information before contacting us with a bug report. You may find that the bug you're about to report has already been fixed!

Finally, we hope you find Visual TICS useful. We would be very interested to hear your suggestions for improving it further.