A Language-Independent Static Checking System for Coding Conventions
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AbstractDespite decades of research aiming to ameliorate the difficulties of creating software, programming still remains an error-prone task. Much work in Computer Science deals with the problem of specification, or writing the right program, rather than the complementary problem of implementation, or writing the program right. However, many desirable software properties (such as portability) are obtained via adherence to coding standards, and therefore fall outside the remit of formal specification and automatic verification. Moreover, code inspections and manual detection of standards violations are time consuming. To address these issues, this thesis describes Exstatic, a novel framework for the static detection of coding standards violations. Unlike many other static checkers Exstatic can be used to examine code in a variety of languages, including program code, in-line documentation, markup languages and so on. This means that checkable coding standards adhered to by a particular project or institution can be handled by a single tool. Consequently, a major challenge in the design of Exstatic has been to invent a way of representing code from a variety of source languages. Therefore, this thesis describes ICODE, which is an intermediate language suitable for representing code from a number of different programming paradigms. To substantiate the claim that ICODE is a universal intermediate language, a proof strategy has been developed: for a number of different programming paradigms (imperative, declarative, etc.), a proof is constructed to show that semantics-preserving translation exists from an exemplar language (such as IMP or PCF) to ICODE. The usefulness of Exstatic has been demonstrated by the implementation of a number of static analysers for different languages. This includes a checker for technical documentation written in Javadoc which validates documents against the Sun Microsystems (now Oracle) Coding Conventions and a checker for HTML pages against a site-specifc standard. A third system is targeted at a variant of the Python language, written by the author, called python-csp, based on Hoare's Communicating Sequential Processes.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.