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Use opening and closing braces for if, for, or and while statements even when the body contains only a single statement. Braces improve the uniformity and readability of code.

More important, it is easy to forget to add braces when inserting additional statements into a body containing only a single statement, because the conventional indentation gives strong (but misleading) guidance to the structure.

Noncompliant Code Example

This noncompliant code example authenticates a user with an if statement that lacks braces:

Code Block
bgColor#ffcccc
int login;

if (invalid_login())
  login = 0;
else
  login = 1;

A This program behaves as expected. However, a maintainer might subsequently add a debug statement or other logic but forget to add opening and closing braces:

Code Block
bgColor#ffcccc
int login;

if (invalid_login())
  login = 0;
else
  // Debug line added below
  System.out.println("Login is valid\n");
  // DebuggingThe next line addedis herealways executed 
login  login = 1; 
                             // This line always gets executed regardless of a valid login!

The code's indentation disguises the functionality of the program, potentially leading to a security breach.

Compliant Solution

This compliant solution uses opening and closing braces even though the body of the if is a single statement and else bodies of the if statement are single statements:

Code Block
bgColor#CCCCFF
int login;

if (invalid_login()) {
  login = 0;
} else {
  login = 1;
}

Noncompliant Code Example

This noncompliant code example nests an if statement within another if statement, without braces around the if and else bodies:

...

The indentation might lead the programmer to believe users are granted administrator privileges only when their login is valid. However, the else statement actually attaches binds to the inner if statement:

Code Block
bgColor#ffcccc
int privileges;

if (invalid_login())
  if (allow_guests())
    privileges = GUEST;
  else
    privileges = ADMINISTRATOR;

Consequently, this defect allows unauthorized users to obtain administrator privileges.

Compliant Solution

This compliant solution uses braces to remove the ambiguity, consequently ensuring that privileges are correctly assigned:

Code Block
bgColor#CCCCFF
int privileges;

if (invalid_login()) {
  if (allow_guests()) {
    privileges = GUEST;
  } 
} else {
  privileges = ADMINISTRATOR;
}

Applicability

Failure to enclose the bodies of if, for, or while statements in braces makes code maintenance error prone and increases maintenance costs.

Related Guidelines

[Rogue 2000]Rule 76, Use block statements instead of expression statements in control flow constructs

Automated Detection

ToolVersionCheckerDescription
SonarQube
Include Page
SonarQube_V
SonarQube_V

S2681
S00121

 

 

Bibliography

 

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