Clang-Tidy

See also:

clang-tidy is a clang-based C++ “linter” tool. Its purpose is to provide an extensible framework for diagnosing and fixing typical programming errors, like style violations, interface misuse, or bugs that can be deduced via static analysis. clang-tidy is modular and provides a convenient interface for writing new checks.

Using clang-tidy

clang-tidy is a LibTooling-based tool, and it’s easier to work with if you set up a compile command database for your project (for an example of how to do this, see How To Setup Tooling For LLVM). You can also specify compilation options on the command line after --:

$ clang-tidy test.cpp -- -Imy_project/include -DMY_DEFINES ...

clang-tidy has its own checks and can also run Clang Static Analyzer checks. Each check has a name and the checks to run can be chosen using the -checks= option, which specifies a comma-separated list of positive and negative (prefixed with -) globs. Positive globs add subsets of checks, and negative globs remove them. For example,

$ clang-tidy test.cpp -checks=-*,clang-analyzer-*,-clang-analyzer-cplusplus*

will disable all default checks (-*) and enable all clang-analyzer-* checks except for clang-analyzer-cplusplus* ones.

The -list-checks option lists all the enabled checks. When used without -checks=, it shows checks enabled by default. Use -checks=* to see all available checks or with any other value of -checks= to see which checks are enabled by this value.

There are currently the following groups of checks:

Name prefix

Description

abseil-

Checks related to Abseil library.

altera-

Checks related to OpenCL programming for FPGAs.

android-

Checks related to Android.

boost-

Checks related to Boost library.

bugprone-

Checks that target bug-prone code constructs.

cert-

Checks related to CERT Secure Coding Guidelines.

clang-analyzer-

Clang Static Analyzer checks.

concurrency-

Checks related to concurrent programming (including threads, fibers, coroutines, etc.).

cppcoreguidelines-

Checks related to C++ Core Guidelines.

darwin-

Checks related to Darwin coding conventions.

fuchsia-

Checks related to Fuchsia coding conventions.

google-

Checks related to Google coding conventions.

hicpp-

Checks related to High Integrity C++ Coding Standard.

linuxkernel-

Checks related to the Linux Kernel coding conventions.

llvm-

Checks related to the LLVM coding conventions.

llvmlibc-

Checks related to the LLVM-libc coding standards.

misc-

Checks that we didn’t have a better category for.

modernize-

Checks that advocate usage of modern (currently “modern” means “C++11”) language constructs.

mpi-

Checks related to MPI (Message Passing Interface).

objc-

Checks related to Objective-C coding conventions.

openmp-

Checks related to OpenMP API.

performance-

Checks that target performance-related issues.

portability-

Checks that target portability-related issues that don’t relate to any particular coding style.

readability-

Checks that target readability-related issues that don’t relate to any particular coding style.

zircon-

Checks related to Zircon kernel coding conventions.

Clang diagnostics are treated in a similar way as check diagnostics. Clang diagnostics are displayed by clang-tidy and can be filtered out using the -checks= option. However, the -checks= option does not affect compilation arguments, so it cannot turn on Clang warnings which are not already turned on in the build configuration. The -warnings-as-errors= option upgrades any warnings emitted under the -checks= flag to errors (but it does not enable any checks itself).

Clang diagnostics have check names starting with clang-diagnostic-. Diagnostics which have a corresponding warning option, are named clang-diagnostic-<warning-option>, e.g. Clang warning controlled by -Wliteral-conversion will be reported with check name clang-diagnostic-literal-conversion.

The -fix flag instructs clang-tidy to fix found errors if supported by corresponding checks.

An overview of all the command-line options:

$ clang-tidy --help
USAGE: clang-tidy [options] <source0> [... <sourceN>]

OPTIONS:

Generic Options:

  --help                           - Display available options (--help-hidden for more)
  --help-list                      - Display list of available options (--help-list-hidden for more)
  --version                        - Display the version of this program

clang-tidy options:

  --checks=<string>                - Comma-separated list of globs with optional '-'
                                     prefix. Globs are processed in order of
                                     appearance in the list. Globs without '-'
                                     prefix add checks with matching names to the
                                     set, globs with the '-' prefix remove checks
                                     with matching names from the set of enabled
                                     checks. This option's value is appended to the
                                     value of the 'Checks' option in .clang-tidy
                                     file, if any.
  --config=<string>                - Specifies a configuration in YAML/JSON format:
                                       -config="{Checks: '*',
                                                 CheckOptions: {x: y}}"
                                     When the value is empty, clang-tidy will
                                     attempt to find a file named .clang-tidy for
                                     each source file in its parent directories.
  --config-file=<string>           - Specify the path of .clang-tidy or custom config file:
                                      e.g. --config-file=/some/path/myTidyConfigFile
                                     This option internally works exactly the same way as
                                      --config option after reading specified config file.
                                     Use either --config-file or --config, not both.
  --dump-config                    - Dumps configuration in the YAML format to
                                     stdout. This option can be used along with a
                                     file name (and '--' if the file is outside of a
                                     project with configured compilation database).
                                     The configuration used for this file will be
                                     printed.
                                     Use along with -checks=* to include
                                     configuration of all checks.
  --enable-check-profile           - Enable per-check timing profiles, and print a
                                     report to stderr.
  --enable-module-headers-parsing  - Enables preprocessor-level module header parsing
                                     for C++20 and above, empowering specific checks
                                     to detect macro definitions within modules. This
                                     feature may cause performance and parsing issues
                                     and is therefore considered experimental.
  --exclude-header-filter=<string> - Regular expression matching the names of the
                                     headers to exclude diagnostics from. Diagnostics
                                     from the main file of each translation unit are
                                     always displayed.
                                     Must be used together with --header-filter.
                                     Can be used together with -line-filter.
                                     This option overrides the 'ExcludeHeaderFilterRegex'
                                     option in .clang-tidy file, if any.
  --explain-config                 - For each enabled check explains, where it is
                                     enabled, i.e. in clang-tidy binary, command
                                     line or a specific configuration file.
  --export-fixes=<filename>        - YAML file to store suggested fixes in. The
                                     stored fixes can be applied to the input source
                                     code with clang-apply-replacements.
  --extra-arg=<string>             - Additional argument to append to the compiler command line
  --extra-arg-before=<string>      - Additional argument to prepend to the compiler command line
  --fix                            - Apply suggested fixes. Without -fix-errors
                                     clang-tidy will bail out if any compilation
                                     errors were found.
  --fix-errors                     - Apply suggested fixes even if compilation
                                     errors were found. If compiler errors have
                                     attached fix-its, clang-tidy will apply them as
                                     well.
  --fix-notes                      - If a warning has no fix, but a single fix can
                                     be found through an associated diagnostic note,
                                     apply the fix.
                                     Specifying this flag will implicitly enable the
                                     '--fix' flag.
  --format-style=<string>          - Style for formatting code around applied fixes:
                                       - 'none' (default) turns off formatting
                                       - 'file' (literally 'file', not a placeholder)
                                         uses .clang-format file in the closest parent
                                         directory
                                       - '{ <json> }' specifies options inline, e.g.
                                         -format-style='{BasedOnStyle: llvm, IndentWidth: 8}'
                                       - 'llvm', 'google', 'webkit', 'mozilla'
                                     See clang-format documentation for the up-to-date
                                     information about formatting styles and options.
                                     This option overrides the 'FormatStyle` option in
                                     .clang-tidy file, if any.
  --header-filter=<string>         - Regular expression matching the names of the
                                     headers to output diagnostics from. Diagnostics
                                     from the main file of each translation unit are
                                     always displayed.
                                     Can be used together with -line-filter.
                                     This option overrides the 'HeaderFilterRegex'
                                     option in .clang-tidy file, if any.
  --line-filter=<string>           - List of files with line ranges to filter the
                                     warnings. Can be used together with
                                     -header-filter. The format of the list is a
                                     JSON array of objects:
                                       [
                                         {"name":"file1.cpp","lines":[[1,3],[5,7]]},
                                         {"name":"file2.h"}
                                       ]
  --list-checks                    - List all enabled checks and exit. Use with
                                     -checks=* to list all available checks.
  --load=<pluginfilename>          - Load the specified plugin
  -p <string>                      - Build path
  --quiet                          - Run clang-tidy in quiet mode. This suppresses
                                     printing statistics about ignored warnings and
                                     warnings treated as errors if the respective
                                     options are specified.
  --store-check-profile=<prefix>   - By default reports are printed in tabulated
                                     format to stderr. When this option is passed,
                                     these per-TU profiles are instead stored as JSON.
  --system-headers                 - Display the errors from system headers.
                                     This option overrides the 'SystemHeaders' option
                                     in .clang-tidy file, if any.
  --use-color                      - Use colors in diagnostics. If not set, colors
                                     will be used if the terminal connected to
                                     standard output supports colors.
                                     This option overrides the 'UseColor' option in
                                     .clang-tidy file, if any.
  --verify-config                  - Check the config files to ensure each check and
                                     option is recognized.
  --vfsoverlay=<filename>          - Overlay the virtual filesystem described by file
                                     over the real file system.
  --warnings-as-errors=<string>    - Upgrades warnings to errors. Same format as
                                     '-checks'.
                                     This option's value is appended to the value of
                                     the 'WarningsAsErrors' option in .clang-tidy
                                     file, if any.

-p <build-path> is used to read a compile command database.

  For example, it can be a CMake build directory in which a file named
  compile_commands.json exists (use -DCMAKE_EXPORT_COMPILE_COMMANDS=ON
  CMake option to get this output). When no build path is specified,
  a search for compile_commands.json will be attempted through all
  parent paths of the first input file . See:
  https://clang.llvm.org/docs/HowToSetupToolingForLLVM.html for an
  example of setting up Clang Tooling on a source tree.

<source0> ... specify the paths of source files. These paths are
  looked up in the compile command database. If the path of a file is
  absolute, it needs to point into CMake's source tree. If the path is
  relative, the current working directory needs to be in the CMake
  source tree and the file must be in a subdirectory of the current
  working directory. "./" prefixes in the relative files will be
  automatically removed, but the rest of a relative path must be a
  suffix of a path in the compile command database.


Configuration files:
  clang-tidy attempts to read configuration for each source file from a
  .clang-tidy file located in the closest parent directory of the source
  file. The .clang-tidy file is specified in YAML format. If any configuration
  options have a corresponding command-line option, command-line option takes
  precedence.

  The following configuration options may be used in a .clang-tidy file:

  CheckOptions                 - List of key-value pairs defining check-specific
                                 options. Example:
                                   CheckOptions:
                                     some-check.SomeOption: 'some value'
  Checks                       - Same as '--checks'. Additionally, the list of
                                 globs can be specified as a list instead of a
                                 string.
  ExcludeHeaderFilterRegex     - Same as '--exclude-header-filter'.
  ExtraArgs                    - Same as '--extra-args'.
  ExtraArgsBefore              - Same as '--extra-args-before'.
  FormatStyle                  - Same as '--format-style'.
  HeaderFileExtensions         - File extensions to consider to determine if a
                                 given diagnostic is located in a header file.
  HeaderFilterRegex            - Same as '--header-filter-regex'.
  ImplementationFileExtensions - File extensions to consider to determine if a
                                 given diagnostic is located in an
                                 implementation file.
  InheritParentConfig          - If this option is true in a config file, the
                                 configuration file in the parent directory
                                 (if any exists) will be taken and the current
                                 config file will be applied on top of the
                                 parent one.
  SystemHeaders                - Same as '--system-headers'.
  UseColor                     - Same as '--use-color'.
  User                         - Specifies the name or e-mail of the user
                                 running clang-tidy. This option is used, for
                                 example, to place the correct user name in
                                 TODO() comments in the relevant check.
  WarningsAsErrors             - Same as '--warnings-as-errors'.

  The effective configuration can be inspected using --dump-config:

    $ clang-tidy --dump-config
    ---
    Checks:              '-*,some-check'
    WarningsAsErrors:    ''
    HeaderFileExtensions:         ['', 'h','hh','hpp','hxx']
    ImplementationFileExtensions: ['c','cc','cpp','cxx']
    HeaderFilterRegex:   ''
    FormatStyle:         none
    InheritParentConfig: true
    User:                user
    CheckOptions:
      some-check.SomeOption: 'some value'
    ...

Suppressing Undesired Diagnostics

clang-tidy diagnostics are intended to call out code that does not adhere to a coding standard, or is otherwise problematic in some way. However, if the code is known to be correct, it may be useful to silence the warning. Some clang-tidy checks provide a check-specific way to silence the diagnostics, e.g. bugprone-use-after-move can be silenced by re-initializing the variable after it has been moved out, bugprone-string-integer-assignment can be suppressed by explicitly casting the integer to char, readability-implicit-bool-conversion can also be suppressed by using explicit casts, etc.

If a specific suppression mechanism is not available for a certain warning, or its use is not desired for some reason, clang-tidy has a generic mechanism to suppress diagnostics using NOLINT, NOLINTNEXTLINE, and NOLINTBEGINNOLINTEND comments.

The NOLINT comment instructs clang-tidy to ignore warnings on the same line (it doesn’t apply to a function, a block of code or any other language construct; it applies to the line of code it is on). If introducing the comment on the same line would change the formatting in an undesired way, the NOLINTNEXTLINE comment allows suppressing clang-tidy warnings on the next line. The NOLINTBEGIN and NOLINTEND comments allow suppressing clang-tidy warnings on multiple lines (affecting all lines between the two comments).

All comments can be followed by an optional list of check names in parentheses (see below for the formal syntax). The list of check names supports globbing, with the same format and semantics as for enabling checks. Note: negative globs are ignored here, as they would effectively re-activate the warning.

For example:

class Foo {
  // Suppress all the diagnostics for the line
  Foo(int param); // NOLINT

  // Consider explaining the motivation to suppress the warning
  Foo(char param); // NOLINT: Allow implicit conversion from `char`, because <some valid reason>

  // Silence only the specified checks for the line
  Foo(double param); // NOLINT(google-explicit-constructor, google-runtime-int)

  // Silence all checks from the `google` module
  Foo(bool param); // NOLINT(google*)

  // Silence all checks ending with `-avoid-c-arrays`
  int array[10]; // NOLINT(*-avoid-c-arrays)

  // Silence only the specified diagnostics for the next line
  // NOLINTNEXTLINE(google-explicit-constructor, google-runtime-int)
  Foo(bool param);

  // Silence all checks from the `google` module for the next line
  // NOLINTNEXTLINE(google*)
  Foo(bool param);

  // Silence all checks ending with `-avoid-c-arrays` for the next line
  // NOLINTNEXTLINE(*-avoid-c-arrays)
  int array[10];

  // Silence only the specified checks for all lines between the BEGIN and END
  // NOLINTBEGIN(google-explicit-constructor, google-runtime-int)
  Foo(short param);
  Foo(long param);
  // NOLINTEND(google-explicit-constructor, google-runtime-int)

  // Silence all checks from the `google` module for all lines between the BEGIN and END
  // NOLINTBEGIN(google*)
  Foo(bool param);
  // NOLINTEND(google*)

  // Silence all checks ending with `-avoid-c-arrays` for all lines between the BEGIN and END
  // NOLINTBEGIN(*-avoid-c-arrays)
  int array[10];
  // NOLINTEND(*-avoid-c-arrays)
};

The formal syntax of NOLINT, NOLINTNEXTLINE, and NOLINTBEGINNOLINTEND is the following:

lint-comment:
  lint-command
  lint-command lint-args

lint-args:
  ( check-name-list )

check-name-list:
  check-name
  check-name-list , check-name

lint-command:
  NOLINT
  NOLINTNEXTLINE
  NOLINTBEGIN
  NOLINTEND

Note that whitespaces between NOLINT/NOLINTNEXTLINE/NOLINTBEGIN/NOLINTEND and the opening parenthesis are not allowed (in this case the comment will be treated just as NOLINT/NOLINTNEXTLINE/NOLINTBEGIN/NOLINTEND), whereas in the check names list (inside the parentheses), whitespaces can be used and will be ignored.

All NOLINTBEGIN comments must be paired by an equal number of NOLINTEND comments. Moreover, a pair of comments must have matching arguments – for example, NOLINTBEGIN(check-name) can be paired with NOLINTEND(check-name) but not with NOLINTEND (zero arguments). clang-tidy will generate a clang-tidy-nolint error diagnostic if any NOLINTBEGIN/NOLINTEND comment violates these requirements.