Menu
Facebook tool could help devs pinpoint elusive memory leaks

Facebook tool could help devs pinpoint elusive memory leaks

Infer is a free static analysis debugger Facebook has used internally and has now released as open source

Facebook's Infer can highlight errors in the source code of a program, and prompt the developer to fix them.

Facebook's Infer can highlight errors in the source code of a program, and prompt the developer to fix them.

To help developers find hidden errors in their programs, Facebook has released as open source a tool that it uses to debug millions of lines of its own code.

The software, called Infer, could be useful to organizations and individuals building mobile and desktop apps and could use extra help debugging, said Facebook developer Peter O'Hearn, one of the tool's creators.

Infer is a static program analyzer. Static analyzers do not test programs by running them. Instead, they mathematically examine the code for all the possible ways it could run, flagging incorrect or unfinished bits.

Infer is particularly well-suited for applications too large to be understood by any one programmer, O'Hearn said. It separates an application into a set of smaller parts so they can be examined more easily. It also remembers which parts of the application it has already analyzed, and doesn't re-check them unless they have been modified.

Facebook has used Infer to inspect Facebook Messenger and Instagram, as well as its apps for the Android and iOS platforms.

Static analysis tools are not new. Companies such as Coverity, Parasoft, and Black Duck, among others, all offer commercial static analysis debuggers.

Infer's obvious advantage over these products is that it's free. It also is particularly well adapted to sniffing out memory leaks and null pointer access, both of which can be elusive to track down and are a predominant source of app crashes.

The current version can examine code written in C, Objective-C and Java. The Infer team hopes that, by open sourcing the software, others will add support for more languages.

Work on Infer started in Monoidics, which was founded in 2009 and purchased by Facebook in 2013. In addition to O'Hearn, Facebook developers Cristiano Calcagno and Dino Distefano also contributed heavily to Infer.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Facebooksoftwareapplication developmentDevelopment tools

Featured

Slideshows

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2018 inductees - Chris Simpson, Kendra Ross and Phill Patton - to the third running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing landscape of the technology industry in New Zealand, while outlining ways to attract a new breed of players to the ecosystem. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch
Upcoming tech talent share insights at inaugural Emerging Leaders Forum 2019

Upcoming tech talent share insights at inaugural Emerging Leaders Forum 2019

The channel came together for the inaugural Reseller News Emerging Leaders Forum in New Zealand, created to provide a program that identifies, educates and showcases the upcoming talent of the ICT industry. Hosted as a half day event, attendees heard from industry champions as keynoters and panelists talked about future opportunities and leadership paths and joined mentoring sessions with members of the ICT industry Hall of Fame. The forum concluded with 30 Under 30 Tech Awards across areas of Sales, Entrepreneur, Marketing, Management, Technical and Human Resources. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Upcoming tech talent share insights at inaugural Emerging Leaders Forum 2019
Show Comments