Sessions at RubyConf 2011 about Static Analysis on Saturday 1st October

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  • Laser: Static Analysis for Ruby, in Ruby

    by Michael Edgar

    What truly makes Ruby special as a language is its focus on expressivity, flexibility, and dynamism. Yet these same properties - and their widespread use in the community - make even straightforward application code difficult to analyze statically in a meaningful way.

    Laser seeks to change that. As a general-purpose analyzer using traditional compiler techniques, it statically discovers properties of real-world Ruby programs that no existing tool can. This talk is a whirlwind tour of what Laser can do, how it does it, and what it means for a typical Ruby programmer (who doesn't want to litter his or her code with type annotations). Among the questions it attempts to answer:

    • What code never runs?
    • What variables are unused?
    • What code runs, but has no meaningful effect?
    • What exceptions might a method raise?
    • Are blocks required, optional, or ignored by a method?
    • What variables are constant?
    • What methods get generated (or removed) by loops at load-time?
    • What types are being used, and where?
    • What gets added to a class by calling a method like acts_as_list?

    Most importantly, Laser uses this information to find bugs and tell you about them, in addition to warning you about potential mistakes. It has a clear integration path with YARD and Redcar, as well as a possible future in optimization. On a broader scale, Laser exposes and builds upon the underlying strength and regularity of Ruby and modern Ruby techniques, without restricting Ruby's natural expressivity through static typing.

    At 2:10pm to 3:05pm, Saturday 1st October

    Coverage video

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