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Explaining static analysis - a perspective

: Nachtigall, M.; Nguyen Quang Do, L.; Bodden, E.


Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers -IEEE-; Association for Computing Machinery -ACM-:
34th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering Workshop, ASEW 2019. Proceedings : 10-15 November 2019, San Diego, California
Los Alamitos, Calif.: IEEE Computer Society Conference Publishing Services (CPS), 2019
ISBN: 978-1-7281-4137-4
ISBN: 978-1-7281-4136-7
International Conference on Automated Software Engineering (ASEW) <34, 2019, San Diego/Calif.>
International Workshop on Explainable Software (EXPLAIN) <1, 2019, San Diego/Calif.>
Fraunhofer IEM ()

Static code analysis is widely used to support the development of high-quality software. It helps developers detect potential bugs and security vulnerabilities in a program's source code without executing it. While the potential benefits of static analysis tools are beyond question, their usability is often criticised and prevents software developers from using static analysis to its full potential. In the past decade, researchers have studied developer needs and contrasted them to available static analysis tool functionalities. In this paper, we summarize the main design challenges for building usable static analysis tools, and show that they revolve around the notion of explainability, which is a subarea of usability. We present existing analysis tools and current research in static analysis usability, and detail how they approach those challenges. This leads us to proposing potential lines of future work in explainability for static analysis, namely turning static analysis tools into assistants and teachers.