Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Writing StyleCop rules in F#

Alas not "Writing StyleCop rules for F#" (or should that be StyleFop?), which would be nice, but a true job of work...

I don't see much need for more StyleCop rules for C# (except one to harness the FxCop spellcheck facilities to scan comments, which would have to be done via much dodgy reflection to winkle out internal types, and would anyway give issues for being tied to 32-bit native executables), so haven't tried this before. But, like mountains, it's there...


So, you have StyleCop 4.5 or 4.6 installed, and start by creating an empty class library targeted at the .net 3.5 environment, with added references to the StyleCop and StyleCop.CSharp assemblies. The bare rule class looks like

and to go with it, add an XML file as an Embedded Resource with name My.Namespace.MyRules.xml -- first gotcha : the long name needs to be given in full because the default namespace doesn't get applied in the build like it would for C#. That can then be filled in as per the instructions in the StyleCop SDK documentation. Then just override the AnalyzeDocument method and go wild:

where I'm using the concept from the StyleCop+ rule SP2000 as an example of a new rule not yet present in the core tool.

Unlike FxCop, there is not a "one class = one rule" model here; the classes exist to group related rules, and you control how each scans the current source file of interest, and, indeed, how distinct they are in the code -- a closely related set of rules could be checked off a single scan, and in some ways StyleCop rules are more akin to the distinct named resolutions that can be defined within a single FxCop rule.

Another consequent difference from FxCop is how the object graph is visited. In FxCop, there are VisitXxx methods to override that will be called for every object of type Xxx, in an essentially stateless manner (your rule class is responsible for maintaining state between calls); here the equivalent methods are passed to a WalkXxx graph walker method as a callback, provide a mutable state object argument, and can signal through their return value whether the traversal should continue.

This approach of using a mutable object, needing down-casting, to carry inputs into each call, and contain the resultant outputs, feels a bit odd in a functional environment; fortunately it is possible to bypass this in many cases by representing the tree-walk as a seq and operating on that. For the trailing whitespace rule, where the offending lines are most easily found by scanning the raw source line by line, all we need the traversal for is to find an ICodeElement context object matching that line number. A simple walk of the code element tree looks like

which we apply to the document RootElement and from the result find the last (so most deeply nested, and hence most constrained) item whose Location has a span that includes the line number of interest (skip while the end is before the line of interest, take while the start includes the line, reverse, get head), the line number being a value that the operation can close over.

For deployment onto machines that don't have F# installed, static linkage of the runtime via the --standalone build flag can be used rather than having to explicitly drop the F# runtime assembly into the StyleCop folder (second gotcha).

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