Today's commercial lint tools are the progeny of a free lint utility that was released with Unix. Unix's lint was originally developed to help ensure consistency of function calls across boundaries. While the proper use of ANSI can help solve this problem today, most other sources of errors in C code remain, including the following: uninitialized variables, order of evaluation dependencies, loss of precision, potential uses of the null pointer, consistency problems, and programmer error. The Unix lint utility was also difficult to use and has never been fully utilized by Unix programmers. However, in the early 1980's Cleanscape Software International (then IPT) took the idea of a static source code analyzer and enhanced it to produce advanced static source code analysis tools for Fortran and C that could provide extensive source code analysis.
Today, static analysis tools are available for most programming languages and should be considered a basic utility in any programmer's toolbox. Basic linting capabilities have even started appearing in compilers, but these features still tend to pail in comparison to today's dedicated static analyzers.
The future of lint tools could very well be in the Internet. Recently introduced web-delivered static analysis tools like Cleanscape LintPlus Online and Cleanscape FortranLint Online promise to provide developers with the bug-stomping power of leading static analysis tools with the convenience, ease-of-use, and cost-savings of a web-delivered application.
Caption: Web-delivered lint tools promise to give developers the bug-stomping power of leading lint tools with the convenience, ease-of-use and cost-savings of the Internet.
> See web-based lint tool