TICS Client Use Cases

Running the TICS Client for Coding Standards

One of the most common use cases for the TICS client is to use it to check whether code contains any violations.

For example, the following command allows you to check Coding Standards violations on /dev/myproject within the context of the TICSQServer project MYPROJECT:

TICS -project MYPROJECT -calc CS /dev/myproject

There are multiple ways to run this command. This can either be done via the command line, or via the IDE integration. For the command line, use the command as given above; for the IDE integration, check for your specific plugin how to do this.

The output in the console should look something like this:

    The goto statement shall not be used.
    C Coding Standard item (Category: Statements and Blocks, Level: 6)
    The goto statement shall not be used.

This points out violations in the source code, which is a way to find (and resolve) defects in the local source code before committing it to a SCM repository.

Using a file list as input argument for the TICS Client

It is possible to pass a (potentially auto-generated) file list to TICS containing the list of files that you wish to analyze. Since this file list might be automatically generated as well, the FILEFILTERS functionality is still used to filter the file list for files that may not be under version control, are automatically generated, or in some other way excluded from TICS analysis.

The contents of the file list need to meet the following requirements:

To give an example, these are the contents of the filelist my-filelist.txt. Note how the files are separated and that no quotation marks are necessary.

C:/Working Directory/project/source_code.py
C:/Working Directory/project/check_for_violations.py
C:/Working Directory/project/coding_standards.py

This file list can then be passed to TICS on the command line. Note the @ in the argument, marking that TICS needs to look at the contents of the file to generate its analysis scope:

TICS -project MYPROJECT -calc CS @my-filelist.txt

Controlling the TICS Client analysis set

There are various options available for fine-tuning the set of files that you are analyzing with TICS. You can also use data from the source control management and from your TICS database to better match up to the files that have been changed (and are therefore likely interesting to run a TICS analysis on). Some options you can use are:

For instance, if you want to analyze a directory of files, and only want to analyze those that have uncommitted SCM changes, you can use the following command line:

TICS -project MYPROJECT -checkedoutonly -calc CS /dev/myproject

Running the TICS Client for other metrics

With different arguments to the -calc argument, it is possible to run the TICS client for a variety of metrics. See the list of supported metrics for all possibilities to pass to the TICS Client.

Running the TICS Client for a set of fast metrics

It is also possible to define a set of fast metrics to run for the client. Using this option makes it easy for developers to do a quick check on their code for maximum efficiency. This can be done by using the FAST option for the command line:

TICS -project MYPROJECT -calc FAST /dev/myproject

See the METRICALIASES configuration option for how to set a custom set of FAST metrics.

Controlling TICS output

The recommended way to show changes in your violations is to make use of the -viewer option. This will give you a link to the TICS Viewer, which visualizes your code changes in a delta overview. In this overview you can easily see changes in your violations. See this page for a more detailed overview of the Client Viewer functionality.

Note that client-viewer functionality is always enabled in the case you run with a quality gate that you have set in the viewer, and are running with -calc GATE. You don't need to set -viewer in that case.

There are also various other command line options which allow you more extensive control over which violations TICS will show you. These options can be found at the list of TICS client options for command line usage, or can be set via the TICS Configuration Tool.

A small selection of options that can be used for controlling your output on the command line, or in your IDE:

To give an example, if you are running with the -shownew option, then TICS will show the following annotation on any violations that are new compared to the current state of the TICS database:

    [***NEW***] The goto statement shall not be used.
    C Coding Standard item (Category: Statements and Blocks, Level: 6)
    The goto statement shall not be used.

Running the TICS Client with a quality gate

Organizations may have a quality gate in place to make certain that no changes can be made that seriously degrade the quality of the code. This quality gate will be triggered on any code changes, either commits or branch merges. Via the Client Viewer functionality, it is possible to do a local check whether the changes in the source code meet the quality gate by adding the -calc GATE option:

TICS -project PROJECT_WITH_QUALITY_GATE -calc GATE ~/branchdir/subdir

This will run the TICS client on the project for the metrics that are contained within the client viewer quality gate.

Comparing violations of different source code versions

If a project is passed to TICS for a violation metric, it is possible for TICS to evaluate a delta. For instance, let's take the basic invocation of the TICS Client:

TICS -project MYPROJECT -calc CS /dev/myproject

Since a project is passed, the TICS Client can use database information of previous runs for this project. So then it is possible for TICS to define a predecessor of your source files (if one exists). This predecessor should then match the last version of your source files that has been analyzed by TICS. TICS makes use of the configured source control tool to find which was the last analysis done on the previous version of the source code.

Alternatively, the predecessor to make a delta with can be set by the option -delta and an SCM tag from your SCM setup, like this:

TICS -project MYPROJECT -calc CS -delta [SCMTAG] /dev/myproject

Having determined a predecessor, TICS will then run an analysis for the metrics passed via -calc or -recalc options. This analysis can then be compared to the violations that TICS has stored in the database for the predecessor. TICS will then show you the delta with the previous version of your code as well as the violations that have been found in the current version. This allows you to get an easy overview of whether local changes have resolved violations that existed in previous versions, or introduced new violations.

Abstract Interpretation and Security

The TICS client now also supports running for Abstract Interpretation and Security. Since Abstract Interpretation and Security are metrics which can potentially use more than the input set of the client, this analysis comes with the following limitations:

Currently, only the Coverity and Bandit analyzers are supported for the TICS Client as Abstract Interpretation / Security analysis tools.

If all the aforementioned requirements are in place, you can run the TICS Client for AI and Security in the same way you would run it for Coding Standards or Compiler Warnings:

TICS -project MYPROJECT -calc AI,SEC /dev/myproject