To analyze a codebase, you run queries against a CodeQL database extracted from the code.
CodeQL analyses produce interpreted results that can be displayed as alerts or paths in source code.
For information about writing queries to run with
database analyze, see "Using custom queries with the CodeQL CLI."
Queries run with
database analyze have strict metadata requirements. You can also execute queries using the following
query run, which will output BQRS files, or print results tables directly to the command line. Viewing results directly in the command line may be useful for iterative query development using the CLI.
Queries run with these commands don't have the same metadata requirements.
However, to save human-readable data you have to process each BQRS results
file using the bqrs decode plumbing
subcommand. Therefore, for most use cases it's easiest to use
database analyze to directly generate interpreted results.
Before starting an analysis you must:
- Set up the CodeQL CLI to run commands locally.
- Create a CodeQL database for the source code you want to analyze.
The simplest way to run
codeql database analyze is using CodeQL packs. You can also
run the command using queries from a local checkout of the CodeQL repository,
which you may want to do if you want to customize the CodeQL core queries.
When you run
database analyze, it:
- Optionally downloads any referenced CodeQL packages that are not available locally.
- Executes one or more query files, by running them over a CodeQL database.
- Interprets the results, based on certain query metadata, so that alerts can be displayed in the correct location in the source code.
- Reports the results of any diagnostic and summary queries to standard output.
You can analyze a database by running the following command:
codeql database analyze <database> --format=<format> --output=<output> <query-specifiers>...
Note: If you analyze more than one CodeQL database for a single commit, you must specify a SARIF category for each set of results generated by this command. When you upload the results to GitHub AE, code scanning uses this category to store the results for each language separately. If you forget to do this, each upload overwrites the previous results.
codeql database analyze <database> --format=<format> \ --sarif-category=<language-specifier> --output=<output> \ <queries>
You must specify
--output. You can specify additional options depending on what analysis you want to do.
|Specify the path for the directory that contains the CodeQL database to analyze.|
|Specify CodeQL packs or queries to run. To run the standard queries used for code scanning, omit this parameter. To see the other query suites included in the CodeQL CLI bundle, look in |
|Specify the format for the results file generated during analysis. A number of different formats are supported, including CSV, SARIF, and graph formats. For upload to GitHub this should be: |
|Specify where to save the SARIF results file.|
|Optional for single database analysis. Required to define the language when you analyze multiple databases for a single commit in a repository.|
Specify a category to include in the SARIF results file for this analysis. A category is used to distinguish multiple analyses for the same tool and commit, but performed on different languages or different parts of the code.
|Use if you want to include any available markdown-rendered query help for custom queries used in your analysis. Any query help for custom queries included in the SARIF output will be displayed in the code scanning UI if the relevant query generates an alert. For more information, see "Including query help for custom CodeQL queries in SARIF files."|
|Use if you want to use more than one thread to run queries. The default value is |
|Use to get more detailed information about the analysis process and diagnostic data from the database creation process.|
For databases that were created by CodeQL CLI v2.3.3 or earlier, you will need to explicitly upgrade the database before you can run an analysis with a newer
version of the CodeQL CLI. If this step is necessary, then you will see a message telling you
that your database needs to be upgraded when you run
For databases that were created by CodeQL CLI v2.3.4 or later, the CLI will implicitly run any required upgrades. Explicitly running the upgrade command is not necessary.
For full details of all the options you can use when analyzing databases, see "database analyze."
This example analyzes a CodeQL database stored at
/codeql-dbs/example-repo and saves the results as a SARIF file:
/temp/example-repo-js.sarif. It uses
The following examples show how to run
database analyze using CodeQL packs, and how to use a local checkout of the CodeQL repository. These examples assume your CodeQL databases have been created in a directory that is a sibling of your local copies of the CodeQL repository.
The analysis generates a CSV file (
js-results.csv) in a new directory (
Alternatively, if you have the CodeQL repository checked out, you can execute the same queries by specifying the path to the query directly:
You can also run your own custom queries with the
database analyze command.
For more information about preparing your queries to use with the CodeQL CLI,
see "Using custom queries with the CodeQL CLI."
You can run all the queries located in a directory by providing the directory path, rather than listing all the individual query files. Paths are searched recursively, so any queries contained in subfolders will also be executed.
You should avoid specifying the root of a core CodeQL query pack when executing
as it might contain some special queries that aren’t designed to be used with
the command. Rather, run the query pack to include the
pack’s default queries in the analysis, or run one of the
code scanning query suites.
For example, to execute all Python queries contained in the
Functions directory in the
codeql/python-queries query pack you would run:
codeql database analyze <python-database> codeql/python-queries:Functions --format=sarif-latest --output=python-analysis/python-results.sarif --download
Alternatively, if you have the CodeQL repository checked out, you can execute the same queries by specifying the path to the directory directly:
codeql database analyze <python-database> ../ql/python/ql/src/Functions/ --format=sarif-latest --output=python-analysis/python-results.sarif
When the analysis has finished, a SARIF results file is generated. Specifying
that the results are formatted according to the most recent SARIF specification
supported by CodeQL.
To run a query suite on a CodeQL database for a C/C++ codebase, you could use the following command from the directory containing your database:
codeql database analyze <cpp-database> codeql/cpp-queries:codeql-suites/cpp-code-scanning.qls --format=sarifv2.1.0 --output=cpp-results.sarif --download
This command downloads the
codeql/cpp-queries CodeQL query pack, runs the analysis, and generates a file in the SARIF version 2.1.0 format that is supported by all versions of GitHub. This file can be uploaded to GitHub by executing
codeql github upload-results or the code scanning API.
For more information, see "Configuring CodeQL CLI in your CI system"
or "Code Scanning".
CodeQL query suites are
.qls files that use directives to select queries to run
based on certain metadata properties. The standard CodeQL packs have metadata that specify
the location of the query suites used by code scanning, so the CodeQL CLI knows where to find these
suite files automatically, and you don’t have to specify the full path on the command line.
For more information, see "Creating CodeQL query suites."
For information about creating custom query suites, see "Creating CodeQL query suites."
When you create a CodeQL database, the extractor stores diagnostic data in the database. The code scanning query suites include additional queries to report on this diagnostic data and calculate summary metrics. When the
database analyze command completes, the CLI generates the results file and reports any diagnostic and summary data to standard output. If you choose to generate SARIF output, the additional data is also included in the SARIF file.
If the analysis found fewer results for standard queries than you expected, review the results of the diagnostic and summary queries to check whether the CodeQL database is likely to be a good representation of the codebase that you want to analyze.
You can use CodeQL query packs in your code scanning setup. This allows you to select query packs published by various sources and use them to analyze your code. For more information, see "Using CodeQL query packs in the CodeQL action" or "Downloading and using CodeQL query packs in your CI system."
If you use the CodeQL CLI to run code scanning analyses on third party CI/CD systems, you can include the query help for your custom queries in SARIF files generated during an analysis. After uploading the SARIF file to GitHub, the query help is shown in the code scanning UI for any alerts generated by the custom queries.
From CodeQL CLI v2.7.1 onwards, you can include markdown-rendered query help in SARIF files
by providing the
--sarif-add-query-help option when running
codeql database analyze.
For more information, see Configuring CodeQL CLI in your CI system.
You can write query help for custom queries directly in a markdown file and save it alongside the
corresponding query. Alternatively, for consistency with the standard CodeQL queries,
you can write query help in the
.qhelp format. Query help written in
files can’t be included in SARIF files, and they can’t be processed by code
scanning so must be converted to markdown before running
the analysis. For more information, see "Query help files"
and "Testing query help files."
You can save analysis results in a number of different formats, including SARIF and CSV.
The SARIF format is designed to represent the output of a broad range of static analysis tools. For more information, see CodeQL CLI SARIF output.
If you choose to generate results in CSV format, then each line in the output file corresponds to an alert. Each line is a comma-separated list with the following information.
|Name||Name of the query that identified the result.|
|Description||Description of the query.|
|Severity||Severity of the query.|
|Path||Path of the file containing the alert.|
|Start line||Line of the file where the code that triggered the alert begins.|
|Start column||Column of the start line that marks the start of the alert code. Not included when equal to 1.|
|End line||Line of the file where the code that triggered the alert ends. Not included when the same value as the start line.|
|End column||Where available, the column of the end line that marks the end of the alert code. Otherwise the end line is repeated.|
Results files can be integrated into your own code-review or debugging infrastructure. For example, SARIF file output can be used to highlight alerts in the correct location in your source code using a SARIF viewer plugin for your IDE.