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apex-link

This is a static analysis library for Salesforce metadata. It mostly focuses on Apex classes but also handles other types of metadata if they are relevant to understanding Apex code, such as custom objects. The library is used by the VSCode extension apex-assist, PMD and various proprietry tools. Metadata support utilities such Apex & Visualforce parsing are provided by the pkgforce module. If you are interested in Apex or Visualforce parsing on node for your own tools see apex-parser and vf-parser.

The library is named after the 'link' programs used in other languages to construct a single executable from a number of object files. The library does not construct an executable, but does create a detailed relationship graph between the metadata that it loads which allows for 'whole-program' analyses to be implemented. In constructing this graph it validates the metadata to ensure correctness and so can also be used to validate metadata without ever deploying it to a Salesforce Org. This makes the library particularly useful when performing code refactoring, as it can give near instant feedback on the state of a codebase as you change it.

Current Capabilities

Currently the main aim of the Apex validation is to ensure that code is not referencing any types, fields, methods etc that are not available, this feature is largely complete at this point. The main validation holes are in statement validation which have not yet been implemented beyond some simple cases, e.g. comparing the wrong data types in if statements will not yet cause an error.

The library can support multi-package analysis using either 1GP or 2GP models. It works best when all metadata is provided for analysis but there is also support for ignoring metadata from specific namespaces if it is not available. There is no in-built support for retrieving metadata from an org but this may be added.

Testing

The library comes with a set of unit tests to limit regressions. We also use a set of around 100 of the most popular Salesforce projects on github for testing. These are made available in this repo via git modules (see samples/README.md) and can be run using the 'Test' github action. If you have a particular interest in seeing a project regularly tested for compatibility please feel free to raise a PR to add it.

API Access

The main API for the library is based around the concept of a virtual (in-memory) Salesforce Org. Using this model makes it a little easier to reason about how the API should work. You can find docs for the Org abstraction at javadoc.io. Many of the internal classes of the library are available for use but only classes in the com.nawforce.apexlink.api package are considered stable.

The apex-assist VSCode extension makes use of a JSON-RPC server that is built into the library. The API for this is not considered stable, but it may be more convenient for some use cases.

Roadmap

Building this library has been a multi-year effort, but there are still plenty of features to add:

  • Add ability to import metadata into a layer from external sources, such as directly from an org
  • Extended validations (this can be done incrementally with each release)
  • Provide a means to perform call graph analysis
  • Provide an API to search/access the internal syntax trees

Maven

To use the jar in a maven project add the following to your pom.xml

<dependency>
    <groupId>com.github.nawforce</groupId>
    <artifactId>apexlink</artifactId>
    <version>2.3.1</version>
</dependency>

Building

The library is split into two modules 'apex-link' & 'pkgforce', the apex-link library depends on pkgforce. Each have there own pom.xml files that you can use to build. To build both use:

mvn clean install -Dgpg.skip

We recommend using IntelliJ for development work because of its excellent Scala support. Project files for IntelliJ are also included.

pkgforce can be cross built for use on node.js. To support this it also has an sbt build process.

Source & Licenses

The core of apex-link is written in Scala but should run on any fairly recent JVM and is known to cross compile to Javascript via scala.js. Please let me know if you have trouble building or running it. All the source code included uses a 3-clause BSD license. The only third-party component included is the Apex Antlr4 grammar originally from Tooling-force.com, although the version used is now markedly different from the original.

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Salesforce metadata static analysis library focusing on Apex validation

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