Codacy observes 1.4bn costly coding errors as developers feel the strain

The Portuguese startup claims 15 percent error rate cost companies billions every year

Codacy, a Lisbon-based code analysis startup, has revealed that its software identified over a billion coding errors last year, resulting in hundreds of billions of dollars in "technical debt".

The company's automated review tool, which aims to help developers monitor and improve their software quality, analysed over nine billion lines of code in 2014, detect close to 1.4 billion instances of imperfect or faulty code in the process. In other words, 15 percent of lines of code have errors in them.

Java apps have the most coding errors, while Cobol is cleanest, according to obervations made in 2011 by software analysis firm Cast Software.

These errors don't come cheap. A Cambridge University study published in 2013 estimated the global cost of fixing software bugs stands at £205 billion ($312 billion) annually - and the global technical debt could even rise to as much as £660 billion ($1 trillion) in 2015, according to Gartner. It is also estimated that the technical debt per line of code represents an average cost of £2.37 ($3.61).

Codacy claims the errors occur when developers take shortcuts because they're under pressure to get projects finished quickly.

"The cost of fixing the millions of errors and imperfections created in code every day is expensive," said Codacy co-founder and CEO Jaime Jorge.

"It's also a huge drain on developers' time - which would be much better spent elsewhere. This can have significant financial ramifications for businesses. It's not only an issue for businesses using legacy systems, as fast-growing startups are starting to feel the pain of the shortcuts taken."

"In order to get to grips with this technical debt and reduce the impact it can have, it is crucial that these faults are caught as early as possible in the software development process. Technical debt is no longer a developer's problem alone - this is an issue which affects the wider business too. Managers and business execs also have to understand the importance of code quality and start enforcing high code quality standards early in the development process."

Codacy is one of several startups in Lisbon to have been backed by resident VC, Faber Ventures. Last November, the company won the best pitch award at Web Summit 2014.

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