In this C# programming tutorial, we will take a look at some of the most well-known code quality tools for C# developers, including NCrunch, CodeRush, StyleCopNDepend, and ReSharper/JetBrains.
What is Static Code Analysis?
Static Code Analysis is a process that automatically checks your code for conformance to predefined standards. Most often, this happens when developers compile your code. The compiler’s job is to turn your C# code into an executable program, but it is also the Static Code Analysis engine that runs before compilation takes place and reports potential flaws in your code.
There are several tools that perform Static Code Analysis on compiled assemblies. These tools typically check for patterns of behavior that can be problematic at runtime. Since these tools run after compilation, rather than during it, they are able to examine more than just the syntax of your code; they are able to look at all aspects of the assembly, including its physical structure and metadata as well as its logical behavior (also known as semantic analysis).
What is Code Quality?
Code quality is the degree to which your code meets common industry standards for structure, formatting, and style. Code quality has a number of definitions, but they all generally refer to the same thing: code that is easier to read, understand, and maintain.
Code quality means different things to different people, but at its heart, it means developing code in a way that will allow it to be easily understood and maintained by users who are not the original developers. The idea is that other programmers should be able to pick up where you left off, or troubleshoot and fix bugs in your code without having to learn a whole new coding language.
Best C# Code Quality Tools
Below is a list of some of the top C# code quality tools designed to help developers create better code and software.
Read: Code Refactoring Tips
FxCop is a static code analysis tool that checks for compliance with the Microsoft .NET Framework Design Guidelines. It is a free tool that developers can use to find problems in their code. You can run FxCop by using the command line or the integrated development environment (IDE) of Visual Studio.
FxCop scans an assembly and reports information about the assembly, such as possible design, localization, performance, and security improvements. FxCop also reports coding convention violations, such as naming conventions or capitalization mistakes. It also suggests fixes for some of these issues and links to online documentation where you can learn more about the issue that was found in your code.
CodeRush from DevExpress helps with code analysis, and refactoring. CodeRush enables you to find and fix errors in your code quickly. The powerful code analysis engine automatically detects errors as you type, flags them with squiggles, and offers suggested fixes. CodeRush lets you perform safe automated refactoring like Extract Method, Rename Identifier, Introduce Variable, Encapsulate Field, and more.
CodeRush also gives you easy access to a full-featured set of automatic code generation features that let you write less boilerplate code while doing more of what you love—writing great new business logic. Developer will spend less time typing repetitive or error-prone code and more time focusing on what matters—delivering great software that solves real business problems.
StyleCop is a Microsoft open-source static code analysis tool that evaluates C# code for compliance with StyleCop’s suggested coding styles as well as a portion of Microsoft’s.NET Framework Design Guidelines. StyleCop analyses the source code, enabling it to impose rules that are distinct from those enforced by FxCop.
NDepend is a static analyzer that allows programmers to visualize your code and analyze it in-depth. It’s a paid tool, but it can be quite helpful for finding out exactly where your code could use some work. NDepend provides a dependency graph to see where each class depends on the others. This will allow you to quickly visualize which classes are dependent on too many other classes—or which ones are not dependent on anything at all!
NDepend will also let you know how much coverage is missing from the project. This helps you find code areas that could use more testing (or any testing at all). Code complexity refers to how difficult it is for someone else to understand your program as they read through it. Using NDepend’s visualization tools, you can easily see which parts of your code are simple and easy to understand—and which ones could use some work.
NCrunch is an automated concurrent testing tool for Visual Studio that enables coders to execute tests in real-time. It incorporates an automated test runner together with data pertaining to the code being tested. It is adept at running your tests automatically while providing useful information such as code coverage and performance metrics.
NCrunch is a completely automated testing plugin that was designed to make developing and testing easier. NCrunch captures performance statistics from your tests while they are running in the background. NCrunch initially starts as disabled for a solution until it is enabled from the Visual Studio menu. After you’ve launched your solution, you can enable NCrunch from Visual Studio menu.
Final Thoughts on C# Code Quality Tool
Static Code Analysis is a great way to test your software for bugs at an early stage, and it can prevent a lot of problems down the road. It helps you find bugs that you would otherwise miss. For instance, if you forget a semicolon (;), or make a syntactical mistake, Static Code Analysis will catch the error and tell you where it happened. This saves you time and effort later on because it is much harder to identify mistakes when they are buried in thousands of lines of code.