There are various tools at the disposal of Fuchsia developers for linting and formatting code. This is a general overview of those tools for each language, as well as a description of how additional lint checks should be added and the accuracy standards to which they should be held.

Note that this doesn't try to explain the specific language configurations for each linter and formatter. Though the purpose of linting and formatting is to encourage and enforce recommendations around style and best practices, each relevant language has its own guides that explain the decisions made and the configurations enabled.

Tooling Integration

The Fuchsia team provides two ways to format and lint code: subcommands in the developer-side fx tool, and integrated Tricium analysis on uploaded changes. In addition, a subset of formatting and linting is eligible to be directly included in the build, with strict limitations around accuracy.

Developer tooling (IDEs and fx)

The primary developer tooling suite is the fx command and its subcommands. It provides two subcommands relevant here: fx format-code and fx lint. Each runs the relevant tooling on a list of files and prints the output to the terminal’s stdout/stderr. Running fx lint assumes that the developer has already run fx build; if not, many of the linters will produce errors related to missing files that are created by the build.

The list of files can be specified in one of three ways:

  • The list of files changed since the second-to-last Git commit, including committed, modified, and cached files (this is the default behavior)
  • A list of files passed in a comma-separated list to the --files flag
  • The list of files in the sources of the GN target passed to the --target flag

Formatting is done in-place. Linting is by default warn-only, but users can pass the --fix flag to fx lint to automatically fix the errors for which the tools provide fixes.

Most editors will also integrate formatters and linters to allow developers to automatically format-on-save or format-on-keybinding. In most cases, setup (if any) consists of pointing the IDE at the relevant configuration file and Fuchsia-distributed tool binary.

Integrated tooling (Tricium)

Tricium is a service that integrates with the Gerrit code review system to surface relevant warnings in a way that does not block commits. It triggers on each patchset uploaded by a user with commit access to the Fuchsia repository and runs two suites of tooling analysis.

The formatter analysis does a minimal checkout (no third_party, no prebuilts) and extracts the list of changed files from the patch commit. It runs the relevant formatter based on file extension on each file. If the produced formatted file differs from the file content in the uploaded patch, Tricium posts a comment on the patch explaining how to run the appropriate formatter on the file.

The linter analysis does a full checkout and does a minimal build (to produce the necessary configuration files and headers). It extracts the list of changed files from the patch commit and then runs the relevant linter based on file extension. Machine-readable outputs are requested from the linters, and if warnings are produced the output is then parsed and collected into comment form. Tricium then comments on the appropriate line with the linter warning.

Tricium, where possible, only runs the tools on the changed lines in a commit, though not all linters support this behavior. For the ones that do, this is so that existing but irrelevant lint errors do not distract from the change itself and only directly relevant lints are surfaced.

Analysis results are often based on heuristics. As a result, they do from time to time produce false positives. Fuchsia aims to support a high bar for these analyzers, with any analyzer with greater than 10% error rates as measured by the metrics produced by the Tricium service being disabled.

New linters should generally be added to the existing Tricium recipes. Since checkout/build times are by far the most costly in these builds (the analysis itself takes at best a few seconds, and at worst a few minutes, while checkouts and/o builds can take much longer), it is more efficient from both time and infrastructure resource perspectives to simply extend the existing builders. The selection of which recipe to extend should be based on the amount of information needed, e.g. if prebuilts/third_party code are not needed to run the analysis, the minimal checkout recipe should be used.

Build Integration

An alternative for linter checks that provide zero false-positive rates is to include them in the build. Currently, the Fuchsia build runs the dartanalyzer in this capacity as a type checker. Adding additional checks to this category is not encouraged unless it is certain that they do not fire on false positives.

These checks are directly implemented in the build (generally as actions that run the relevant script), and so will cause the whole build to fail if they catch errors. They also extend the build time, and so should only be used in cases where they provide valuable and correct information to the developer.



Formatters should adhere to the relevant style guides, but whether the formatter’s output is the source-of-truth for the style guide is left up to languages and their style arbiters. When a formatter is changed in the upstream community (e.g. when the Rust community changes rustfmt), the updated formatter will roll into Fuchsia with the toolchain. This doesn't happen often, but can be the cause of conflicting formats between Tricium and local tooling until developers update to use the new toolchain.

Generally, Fuchsia’s support for formatters is dependent on developers running the formatting commands. The only automation is from Tricium, which will warn if a file differs from the formatter’s output, but will not block the CL’s commit.


Linters should generally provide useful and actionable comments to developers. Since they are often heuristics-based, they can produce false positives, but any linter exceeding the 10% false positive rate should be disabled. The process for adding a linter check is to file a bug requesting the new check, outlining its value and the expected false positive rate. Removing a linter check can either be done by filing a bug or submitting a patch with the requested configuration change.

Only linters that are guaranteed to not produce false positives should be implemented in the build itself. These should be enforced by both local builds and by CQ, so that there are no surprises when developers attempt to submit their code.

Language Tools

Each supported language provides a formatter and optionally linters. This section describes the integration of these tools into the Fuchsia workflow. While the formatters tend to be straightforward, the tooling is a bit complex in how the linters are integrated. In most cases, developers do not need to understand the internals of fx and Tricium.

All commands are assumed to be run from the root of a Fuchsia checkout.


C/C++ code uses clang-format and clang-tidy. These are distributed as prebuilts from the Clang toolchain. Both use root-level configuration files (.clang-format and .clang-tidy, respectively). Developers should not create additional configuration files at a lower level, as this will cause disagreements in the tree.

clang-format is run on source files as follows:

prebuilt/third_party/clang/$HOST_PLATFORM/bin/clang-format \
-i \
-style=file \
-fallback-style=Google \
-sort-includes \

Before you run clang-tidy, you must:

  • Build the set of generated headers. The clang-tidy tool partially compiles the source code and most C and C++ code in Fuchsia includes headers generated as part of the build.

Once the compilation database and generated headers are present, you can run the run-clang-tidy.py script to start the clang-tidy tool. The script handles handles parallelization and deduplication of errors, which is necessary when the same header is included in multiple source files. When you use this script, you must also pass the clang-tidy and clang-apply-replacements binaries from the distributed Fuchsia toolchain to make sure the correct ones are used.

export CLANG_TOOLCHAIN_PREFIX=prebuilt/third_party/clang/$HOST_PLATFORM
$CLANG_TOOLCHAIN_PREFIX/share/clang/run-clang-tidy.py \
  -clang-tidy-binary $CLANG_TOOLCHAIN_PREFIX/bin/clang-tidy \
  -clang-apply-replacements-binary $CLANG_TOOLCHAIN_PREFIX/bin/clang-apply-replacements \

An optional -fix flag can be added to automatically apply fixes. This is available in the developer-side tooling.


Rust code uses rustfmt and clippy. These are distributed as prebuilts from the Rust toolchain. The formatter has a root-level configuration file (rustfmt.toml).

rustfmt runs on source files as follows:

prebuilt/third_party/rust_tools/${HOST_PLATFORM}/bin/rustfmt \
--config-path=rustfmt.toml \
--unstable-features \
--skip-children \

TODO(fxbug.dev/27311): Document clippy once implementation details are finalized.


Go code uses gofmt and go vet. These are built as part of the Go toolchain build, and also distributed in the Go host toolchain prebuilts.

gofmt runs on source files as follows:

prebuilt/third_party/go/$HOST_PLATFORM/bin/gofmt -s -w $FILES

TODO(fxbug.dev/27310): Document go vet once implementation details are finalized.


Dart uses dartfmt and dartanalyzer. These are distributed as prebuilts from the Dart toolchain. The dartanalyzer is run as part of the build rather than as a check, as it performs type-checking and other assertive checks.

dartfmt runs on source files as follows:

prebuilt/third_party/dart/${HOST_PLATFORM}/bin/dartfmt -w $FILES

The dartanalyzer is run as part of the build, triggered when the dart_library GN template is invoked. The invocation is:

prebuilt/third_party/dart/${HOST_PLATFORM}/bin/dartanalyzer \
  --packages=$DOT_PACKAGES_FILE \
  --dart-sdk=prebuilt/third_party/dart/${HOST_PLATFORM} \
  --fatal-warnings \
  --fatal-hints \
  --fatal-lints \
  --options=$PACKAGE_ROOT/analysis_options \


FIDL code uses the fidl-format and fidl-lint tools. These are built as host tools from in-tree. Before running either the zircon/tools target must be built so that the binaries exist.

fidl-format runs on source files as follows:

$ZIRCON_BUILD_DIR/tools/fidl-format -i $FILES

fidl-lint runs on source files as follows:

$ZIRCON_BUILD_DIR/tools/fidl-lint $FILES


GN files use the gn format subcommand. There is not a linter. This is distributed as part of the GN prebuilt.

It runs on source files as follows:

prebuilt/third_party/gn/$HOST_PLATFORM/gn format <files>