This page documents several ways of running Infer, that you can adapt to your own project.
- Make sure your project is clean when you first run Infer on it
make clean, or
gradle clean, or …).
- When running Infer several times in a row, either clean your
project as in step 1 in-between Infer runs, or add
- These steps are not needed if you are not using an incremental
build system, for instance if you are analyzing single files with
infer run -- javac Hello.java.
- After a successful Infer run, you can explore Infer’s reports in
more details by running
inferTraceBugsfrom the same directory.
The two phases of an Infer run
Regardless of the input language (Java, Objective-C, or C), there are two main phases in an Infer run:
1. The capture phase
Compilation commands are captured by Infer to translate the files to be analyzed into Infer’s own internal intermediate language.
This translation is similar to compilation, so Infer takes information
from the compilation process to perform its own translation. This is
why we call infer with a compilation command:
infer run -- javac
infer run -- clang -c file.c. What happens is that the
files get compiled as usual, and they also get translated by Infer to
be analyzed in the second phase. In particular, if no file gets
compiled, also no file will be analyzed.
Infer stores the intermediate files in the results directory which by
default is created in the folder where the
infer command is invoked,
and is called
infer-out/. You can change the name of the results
directory with the option
1 infer run -o /tmp/out -- javac Test.java
You can run just the capture phase using the
capture subcommand instead of the
1 infer capture -- javac Test.java
2. The analysis phase
In this phase, the files in
infer-out/ are analyzed by Infer. Infer
analyzes each function and method separately. If Infer encounters an
error when analyzing a method or function, it stops there for that
method or function, but will continue the analysis of other methods
and functions. So, a possible workflow would be to run Infer on your
code, fix the errors generated, and run it again to find possibly more
errors or to check that all the errors have been fixed.
The errors will be displayed in the standard output and also in a file
infer-out/bugs.txt. We filter the bugs and show the ones that are
most likely to be real. In the results directory (
however, we also save a file
report.csv that contains all the
errors, warnings and infos reported by Infer in csv format.
Global (default) and differential workflows
By default, running Infer will delete the previous
directory if it exists. This leads to a default workflow where
the entire project is analyzed every time.
-r) to Infer prevents it from
infer-out/, leading to a differential workflow.
There are exceptions to this. In particular, you can run only one of
the phases above. For instance,
infer run -- javac Hello.java is
equivalent to running these two commands:
1 2 infer capture -- javac Hello.java infer analyze
Notice that the second command does not erase
infer-out/, as the
files it needs to analyze live there!
You can learn more about the subcommands supported by Infer by
infer capture --help, or more generally
infer <subcommand> --help.
Let us highlight when you may need global and differential workflows.
The global workflow is well suited to running Infer on all the files
in a project, e.g., for a Gradle-based project that compiles using the
gradle build command:
1 infer run -- gradle build
In general, running Infer on your project is as simple as running
infer run -- <your build command here> where the build command is the
one you would normally use to compile your source code.
To start a fresh analysis and be sure to analyze all the files in your
project, you have to clean the build products, for instance with
for a make-based project,
gradle clean for Gradle, etc.
Software projects such as mobile apps use incremental build systems, where code evolves as a sequence of code changes. For these projects, it can often make sense to analyze only the current changes in the project, instead of analyzing the whole project every time. It is possible to analyze only what’s changed using Infer’s reactive mode.
Infer should first be run on a clean version of the project, to capture all the compilation commands in its capture phase.
For instance, for a project compiled using Gradle,
1 2 gradle clean infer capture -- gradle build
Note that the above command does not perform an expensive analysis, but captures all the compilation commands and stores the results in Infer’s internal format.
Next, if you change some files in your project, for instance in response to an Infer report, or as part of normal development, you can either clean and reanalyze the entire project (as in the global workflow above), or else tell Infer that you are interested in the effects of the code change. The second option can be significantly faster, as only a subset of the project needs to be analyzed: the modified files/procedures and their dependencies.
1 2 3 edit some/File.java # make some changes to some/File.java infer run --reactive -- gradle build
Note that you can run Infer with the
--reactive flag the first
time around as well.
To control the granularity of the changes to be analyzed, it is possible
to tell Infer to combine several changes into one before the analysis.
This is done with the
1 2 3 4 5 6 edit some/File1.java # make some changes to some/File1.java infer run --reactive -- gradle build edit some/File2.java # make some changes to some/File2.java infer run --reactive --continue -- gradle build
After the first invocation, Infer will analyze the results of the first change.
After the second invocation, Infer will analyze the results of both
changes. If the
--continue option were omitted, it would only
analyze the results of the second change.
Finally, it is always possible to perform an analysis of the current changes in isolation:
1 infer run --reactive --continue -- analyze
The list of build systems supported by Infer is detailed in the next section.
Exploring Infer reports
You can get more information about the reports generated by Infer by
inferTraceBugs in the same directory. For instance
1 2 infer run -- gradle build inferTraceBugs
This tool allows you to see error traces leading to each bug reported
by Infer, which can be helpful in tracking down the precise cause of
each bug. See the output of
inferTraceBugs --help for more