shiftleftsecurity / codepropertygraph

Semantic Code Property Graph: specification, query language, and utilities


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Code Property Graph - Specification and Tooling

Note: for first-time users, we recommend building "joern" at instead. It combines this repo with a C/C++ language frontend to construct a complete code analysis platform.

A Code Property Graph (CPG) is an extensible and language-agnostic representation of program code designed for incremental and distributed code analysis. This repository hosts the base specification together with a build process that generates data structure definitions for accessing the graph with different programming languages.

We are publishing the Code Property Graph specification as a suggestion for an open standard for the exchange of code in intermediate representations along with analysis results. With this goal in mind, the specification consists of a minimal base schema that can be augmented via extension schemas to enable storage of application-specific data.

Building the code

Note: for first-time users, we recommend building "joern" at instead. It contains a code property graph generator for C/C++, a component for querying the code property graph, as well as a few helpful examples to get started.

The build process has been verified on Linux and it should be possible to build on OS X and BSD systems as well. The build process requires the following prerequisites:

Some binary files required for testing are managed through git-lfs. If you haven't cloned this repository yet, simply run git lfs install. If you have cloned it already, additionally run git lfs pull (from within the repository).

Additional build-time dependencies are automatically downloaded as part of the build process. To build and install into your local Maven cache, issue the command sbt publishM2.

This command will install the following artifacts:

  • codepropertygraph-VERSION.jar: Java and Scala classes to be used in combination with the ShiftLeft Tinkergraph [3].

  • codepropertygraph-protos-VERSION.jar: Java bindings for Google's Protocol Buffer definitions

Creating Protocol Buffer bindings for different languages

The codepropertygraph-VERSION.jar artifact contains a Protocol Buffer definition file cpg.proto that you can use to generate your own language-specific bindings. For instance, to create C++ and Python bindings, issue the following series of commands:

sbt package
cd codepropertygraph/target
unzip codepropertygraph-*.jar cpg.proto
mkdir cpp python
protoc --cpp_out=cpp --python_out=python cpg.proto

Base schema for the Code Property Graph

You can find the code property graph specification in base.json. A high level description is present in

Loading a codepropertygraph

Here's how you can load a cpg into ShiftLeft Tinkergraph [3] in the sbt console - the next section will list some queries you can interactively run from there.

There are some sample cpgs in this repository in the resources/cpgs directory. You can run ./ to update them, but this requires the proprietary java2cpg installed locally.

Tinkergraph (in memory reference db)

sbt semanticcpg/console
val cpg = io.shiftleft.codepropertygraph.cpgloading.CpgLoader.load("./resources/cpgs/helloshiftleft/")

Querying the cpg

Once you've loaded a cpg you can run queries, which are provided by the query-primitives subproject. Note that if you're in the sbt shell you can play with it interactively: TAB completion is your friend. Otherwise your IDE will assist.

Here are some simple traversals to get all the base nodes. Running all of these without errors is a good test to ensure that your cpg is valid:


From here you can traverse through the cpg. The query-primitives DSL ensures that only valid steps are available - anything else will result in a compile error:"getAccountList").parameter.toList
/* List(
 *   MethodParameterIn(Some(v[7054781587948444580]),this,0,this,BY_SHARING,io.shiftleft.controller.AccountController,Some(28),None,None,None),
 *   MethodParameterIn(Some(v[7054781587948444584]),request,2,request,BY_SHARING,javax.servlet.http.HttpServletRequest,Some(28),None,None,None),
 *   MethodParameterIn(Some(v[7054781587948444582]),response,1,response,BY_SHARING,javax.servlet.http.HttpServletResponse,Some(28),None,None,None)
 *   )
// TypeDecl(Some(v[464]),AccountController,io.shiftleft.controller.AccountController,false,List(java.lang.Object))


[1] Rodriguez and Neubauer - The Graph Traversal Pattern:

[2] Yamaguchi et al. - Modeling and Discovering Vulnerabilities with Code Property Graphs

[3] The ShiftLeft Tinkergraph