StyleCop is a small tool built on open-source code that is designed to analyze C# in order to determine its consistency with the coding syntax that StyleCop designates. Since the tool was designed by Microsoft, it also checks against a set of design guidelines that go along with the .NET Framework operated by Microsoft. FxCop is another similar tool, but that tool checks code assemblies that have been managed by the .NET Framework. Since the tools look for different coding styles, they can operate under different rules.
- Code Analysis
- Powerful Tool
- Consistent Coding
While StyleCop is technically obsolete now that users have moved on to Visual Studio 2015, it can still be used by systems that haven't yet upgraded to that version of the software. The software is no longer supported by the developer, but it is still a viable tool for older systems. Users that want to ensure their code is up to par can use StyleCop to make sure they aren't making any syntax errors. The unique thing about StyleCop over the similarly named FxCop is that StyleCop actually analyzes source code itself. FxCop doesn't get quite down to that level since it stops at code assemblies generated by the .NET Framework. StyleCop follows a distinct set of rules that allows it to precisely analyze code and find any potential problems. The first thing the software looks for is proper documentation. Documentation is one of the most vital aspects of coding. After that, it checks for the proper layout and general maintainability. Messy code with a lot of extraneous content is harder to maintain, so the software might recommend a code reduction. From here, StyleCop starts to get quite specific. It starts looking for issues with readability, naming, and spacing. These might not seem like significant issues, but even the slightest character out of place when code is compiling can mean the software doesn't work at all. When you use the StyleCop software, you'll be able to use it through the command line or through a GUI. New rules can be added to the system so they will be applied when analyzing code. Now that development for the software has ceased, users of Visual Studio 2015 or later can use the successor to the tool called StyleCopAnalyzers. There are some users who might claim the StyleCop software reduces overall productivity since it enforces style rules that aren't really necessary. For instance, in some cases, the software will refuse to compile code unless it includes extra spaces between the function and the brackets that function defines. This forces the user to manually insert those spaces since most coders wouldn't know to insert them beforehand. A rule like this isn't a rule of the actual programming language, but simply a rule of the style imposed by StyleCop. Since StyleCop forces these rules on every bit of code written and analyzed, developers will have a hard time using this tool to analyze test-code on the fly. The code itself might be perfectly functional, but the software will find false syntax errors that prevent it from successfully compiling.