Chapter 23. Preemptive Error Detection with FindBugs

FindBugs: A Specialized Bug Killer

FindBugs is another static analysis tool for Java, similar in some ways to Checkstyle (see Chapter 21) and PMD (see Chapter 22), but with a quite different focus. FindBugs is not concerned by formatting or coding standards and only marginally interested in best practices: in fact, it concentrates on detecting potential bugs and performance issues. It does a very good job of finding these, and can detect many types of common, hard-to-find bugs. Indeed, FindBugs is capable of detecting quite a different set of issues than PMD or Checkstyle with a relatively high degree of precision. As such, it can be a useful addition to your static analysis toolbox.

FindBugs was written in response to the overwhelming number of issues raised by other tools such as Checkstyle and PMD. Many of the issues raised by these tools are actually false positives and both tools need to be fine-tuned to avoid real issues being hidden by too many false positives. FindBugs tries hard to concentrate on identifying only issues that involve genuine potential coding errors.

FindBugs is the result of a research project at the University of Maryland. It uses static code analysis to detect potential bugs using the notion of “bug patterns.” Bug patterns are poor coding practices that are generally incorrect and may lead to application errors. For example, in the following code, if the address variable is null, the second line will generate ...

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