Making Sense of Static Testing

Last week in CS-443, we did a class activity on static testing tools. These tools are able to detect issues in a program without executing the code. Previous activities had focused on dynamic testing, which does involve code execution, so static testing was definitely new to me. However, I had a hard time learning about the tools due to problems I had with the activity. One of its early parts involved building and running a batch file for the project we were working with. This batch file refused to run properly on my computer, so I was unable to progress with the activity and thus did not get to work with the static testing tools for myself. I observed what my group’s technician did with the tools, and it was interesting to see them in action, but I had a hard time understanding what the tools were doing since I was not working with them myself. Today, I decided to address this problem by revisiting the activity on my own and doing extra research into static testing.

Unfortunately, I was unable to get the batch file to run on my computer. No matter what I tried, it always failed to find or load the main class of the project. After about an hour of messing with file directories, I decided it was not worth spending more time trying to get the batch file to work. I was able to run the project using the gradle run command, and I decided to move on so I could actually try working with a static testing tool. The tool I worked with was Checkstyle, which looks over the code and makes sure it complies with the style guidelines specified in an xml file. I found it interesting that the tool is fully customizable, as the guidelines it checks for can be changed by altering the xml file that the tool uses. The tool is also extremely simple to add to a project, as it only requires a few extra lines in the build.gradle file: one to add the plugin, one to state which version to use, and one to declare which xml file contains the style guidelines.

Although I was able to figure out Checkstyle, I still was not sure I understood the fundamentals of static testing. I decided to do more research instead of continuing with the activity, and I came across an article from about the basics of static testing and testing review. I think the article does a great job introducing the concept of static testing and explaining why and how it is used. It is from reading this article that I learned the difference between static and dynamic testing. It also explained to me why static testing is used and introduced me to different types of static testing, such as manual reviews. I won’t go into every detail about the article here, but it definitely helped me make more sense of static testing and I certainly recommend it to anyone who is also confused by it.

You can find the article here:

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