Guilherme Raduenz

Code analysis with SonarCloud and GitHub Actions

Static code analysis

Static code analysis is the process of examining the source code of a software without running it, with the purpose of detecting bugs, finding code smells, improving the code, finding security issues, helping with reviewing pull requests, and more.

Popular code analysis tools include ESLint for JavaScript and SonarQube for many programming languages. SonarCloud, for example, can do a review on your pull requests every time it is updated, and reports bugs, vulnerabilities, security hotspots, code smells found, as well as % of test coverage and code duplication.

Isn’t it great?

Isn’t it great?


SonarCloud is a cloud-based code analysis service designed to detect coding issues in 26 different programming languages. By integrating directly with your CI pipeline or one of our supported DevOps platforms, your code is checked against an extensive set of rules that cover many attributes of code, such as maintainability, reliability, and security issues on each merge/pull request. As a core element of our Sonar solution, SonarCloud completes the analysis loop to help you deliver clean code that meets high-quality standards.

The paragraph above was copied from SonarCloud Docs. SonarCloud is, in my words and in a short sentence, a managed service that does code analysis on demand for your repositories through CI pipelines.

Also, it’s free for open source repositories. If your repo is private, you must pay to use it.

GitHub Actions

GitHub Actions is a CI/CD service provided by GitHub to automate parts of the software development lifecycle, such as building, testing and doing code analysis configured mostly with YAML files under ./.github/workflows folder of your repository.

I particularly find it incredible: it is on GitHub that you store your code, and on GitHub that you set up your CI/CD workflows. 🐐

Everything in this folder is a workflow that will be run by GitHub Actions

Everything in this folder is a workflow that will be run by GitHub Actions

The SonarCloud GitHub Action

For some programming languages, there is a ready-to-use SonarCloud GitHub Action that you can use in your workflows. Pretty easy! Just like it’s explained in their docs, you add the step to the action with some parameters and everything will work.

You can’t use it with .NET projects 🫠

However, this is not so simple with .NET projects, though it is not complicated. In the action docs, there’s a section Do not use this GitHub action if you are in the following situations that says that we can’t use the action when:

  • Your code is built with Maven: run ‘org.sonarsource.scanner.maven:sonar’ during the build
  • Your code is built with Gradle: use the SonarQube plugin for Gradle during the build
  • ⭐ You want to analyze a .NET solution: Follow our interactive tutorial for Github Actions after importing your project directly in SonarCloud
  • You want to analyze C and C++ code: rely on our SonarCloud Scan for C and C++ and look at our sample C and C++ project

Instead, you need to:

  1. Install the sonarscanner dotnet tool
  2. Begin the analysis with the tool, passing all parameters
  3. Build the project
  4. Run the tests
  5. End the analysis

This entire process is simplified with two scripts that we’ll see below.

Let’s do it

The big picture

Before going into details, I’ve drawn a simple diagram explaining how this process will work, just in case if you are not familiar with it.

  participant local as Your machine
  box transparent GitHub cloud
  participant repo as GitHub repository
  participant actions as GitHub Actions
  participant evaluate as evaluate-pr.yml
  participant sonarsh as
  box transparent SonarCloud cloud
  participant sc as SonarCloud
  local ->> repo: Push
  repo -->> actions: Triggers
  actions ->> evaluate: Runs
  Note over evaluate: Code checkout
  Note over evaluate: Setup Java 17
  evaluate ->> sonarsh: Runs
  Note over sonarsh: sonarscanner begin
  Note over sonarsh: dotnet build
  Note over sonarsh: dotnet test
  Note over sonarsh: sonarscanner end
  sonarsh ->> sc: Reports results
  sc -->> repo: Replies your pull request with the report

Setup SonarCloud

First, sign in into SonarCloud with the account you want. I suggest using GitHub.

As soon as you are in, click the plus (+) sign in the right upper corner and click on Analyze new project.

Select a project, then click Set Up.

In the next part, Set up project for Clean as You Code, just go with Previous version for now, and every change to your code will be considered new code to be analyzed. Then, click on Create project.

It will create the project for you, and in the next step, it asks what is your analysis method (basically your CI tool). Select GitHub Actions.

And this step is done. It asks you to create a new secret in your repository, so let’s go into the next step. Also, if you click the .NET button below, it gives a quick start on how to do it, but you can just ignore.

Please note that I used async-review-poc as the repository for this specific step, only to get the screenshots. Everywhere else I use the whoof-aspnetcore repository instead.

Set up the GitHub repository

All you have to do in your repository is to create that secret mentioned above, to authenticate into SonarCloud when running their scanner.

In your repository settings, go to Secrets and variables, Actions, then click on New repository secret:

Set the name to SONAR_TOKEN, paste the value provided by SonarCloud and click Add secret.


At the repository root, create a file named runsettings.xml, it will contain the configuration to run the project’s tests.

 1<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
 3    <!-- -->
 4    <DataCollectionRunSettings>
 5        <DataCollectors>
 6            <DataCollector friendlyName="XPlat code coverage">
 7                <Configuration>
 8                    <Format>json,cobertura,lcov,teamcity,opencover</Format>
 9                </Configuration>
10            </DataCollector>
11        </DataCollectors>
12    </DataCollectionRunSettings>

Create the scripts

Finally, let’s start by creating the scripts that will be used by the actions that will be created later.

Again, at the repository root, create a scripts folder, and the following scripts:

 1#!/usr/bin/env bash
 3set -eu -o pipefail
 7dotnet test \
 8    --logger trx \
 9    --logger "console;verbosity=detailed" \
10    --settings "runsettings.xml" \
11    --results-directory $REPORTS_FOLDER_PATH

This script is responsible for running your application’s tests, passing some important parameters like using the trx (Visual Studio test results file), the settings file to use and where to store the test results.

 1#!/usr/bin/env bash
 3set -eu -o pipefail
 5if [ -z "$1" ]; then
 6  echo "Please provide the sonar token 👀"
 7  exit 0
10if [ -z "$2" ]; then
11  echo "Please provide the project version 👀"
12  exit 0
15echo "### Reading variables..."
19echo "### Beginning sonarscanner..."
21dotnet sonarscanner begin \
22    /k:"graduenz_whoof-aspnetcore" \
23    /o:"graduenz" \
24    /d:sonar.token="$SONAR_TOKEN" \
25    /v:"$PROJECT_VERSION" \
26    /"" \
27    /d:sonar.cs.opencover.reportsPaths="**/*/coverage.opencover.xml" \
28    /d:sonar.cs.vstest.reportsPaths="**/*/*.trx" \
29    /d:sonar.exclusions="samples/**/*.cs,src/common/Whoof.Migrations/**/*.*"
31echo "### Building project..."
32dotnet build
35dotnet sonarscanner end /d:sonar.token="$SONAR_TOKEN"

This script makes sure the sonar token and the project version to use are passed as parameters, then begins the scan with sonarscanner passing all parameters configuring which project to analyze, where to read test results, what files and folders should be ignored in code analysis, etc., then builds and tests the project (using our script created previously), and ends the scan.

Create the action

Everything but the action is now set up in the repository. All actions should be stored under the .github/workflows folder, and we are going to create one for evaluating pull requests and main branch merges.

Under that folder, create a file name named evaluate-pr.yml with the following content:

 1name: Evaluate pull request
 4  push:
 5    branches:
 6      - main
 7  pull_request:
 8    branches:
 9      - main
12  build:
13    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
14    steps:
15      - name: Checkout
16        uses: actions/checkout@v3
17      - name: Setup Java 17
18        uses: actions/setup-java@v3
19        with:
20          distribution: 'temurin'
21          java-version: '17'
22      - name: Install SonarCloud scanner
23        run: |
24          dotnet tool install --global dotnet-sonarscanner          
25      - name: SonarCloud scan
26        env:
27          SONAR_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.SONAR_TOKEN }}
28          GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}
29        run: |
30          docker-compose up -d
31          ./scripts/ ${{ secrets.SONAR_TOKEN }} ${{ github.sha }}          

This action is divided in three parts: a name, when it’s triggered (on), and what it does (jobs). As you can see, it’s triggered on every push on the main branch (including merge commits), and on every pull request (and every commit on it).

It has a single job named build that uses latest Ubuntu available to run it, checks out the code, configures it to use Java 17 (Temurin, but I’m pretty sure you can use whatever you want), installs the sonarscanner dotnet tool globally (very important!), then finally runs the script.

You will notice it also does docker-compose up -d before running the script, that is because the application integration tests’ uses dependencies like PostgreSQL that runs on Docker. Check for more information about this.

Open a pull request

First, commit and push everything you did to main branch before!

Then, let’s say you made some changes in a new branch in your repository. You will raise a pull request, and you want to get it analyzed by the new action you just set up. Go ahead!

The action is just running!

The action is just running!

As soon as you raise the pull request, give it a few seconds and the action will start to run, as shown in the image above. If everything goes well, it will end, and then you will get a comment on your PR, like this:

If any bug, vulnerability, security issue or code smell is detected, it will be indicated and you can handle it properly, as well as see coverage reports to see where to improve it, just click the anchors in the comment. SonarCloud helps a lot keeping up the good code!

Also, if you go to the Checks tab, you will get the complete SonarCloud report:

And that’s all! Look further if you want to go a bit deeper, that section below is likely to be updated often.


Until this point, you’ve seen how to set up the whole process of static code analysis on your pull requests and main branch commits. However, there are some extra lessons that I learned, and I’m sharing below with you.

Where did I learn that from

There are two former coworkers that indirectly contributed to build this whole mechanism and made everything easier.

Branch protection rules

A common practice is to protect your branch(es) from direct commits, and requiring pull requests to merge them into the branch, as well as adding some requirements to the pull requests before merging.

Click Add branch protection rule

Click Add branch protection rule

In the example below, it has been set up to:

This will protect and improve the whole software development process, making sure nothing broken gets pushed to main branch without prior review and agreement.

Disabling a rule in a class

In my project, something that I needed was to suppress some code smells that were detected by the code analysis. In a regular coding task that is not ideal; however, the example below is a class that has many generic arguments, much more than the two authorized, but is part of the abstractions, reason why I considered it acceptable.

 1namespace Whoof.Api.Common.Controllers;
 3[SuppressMessage("SonarLint", "S2436", Justification = "Abstraction tradeoffs")]
 4public abstract class BaseCrudController
 5    <TDto, TEntity, TCreateCommand, TUpdateCommand, TDeleteCommand, TGetByIdQuery, TGetListQuery, TSearch>
 6    : ControllerBase
 7    where TDto : BaseDto
 8    where TEntity : class
 9    where TCreateCommand : BaseCreateCommand<TDto>, new()
10    where TUpdateCommand : BaseUpdateCommand<TDto>, new()
11    where TDeleteCommand : BaseDeleteCommand<TDto>, new()
12    where TGetByIdQuery : BaseGetByIdQuery<TDto>, new()
13    where TGetListQuery : BaseGetListQuery<TDto, TEntity>, new()
14    where TSearch : BaseSearch<TEntity>

The SuppressMessage attribute can suppress the accusation of an issue, in this case, the S2436 rule, with proper justification.

#dotnet #github #sonarcloud

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