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Code analysis tool AppMap aims to become Google Maps for developers • londonbusinessblog.com

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In December 2021A vulnerability in a widely used logging library that hadn’t been fixed since 2013 caused a complete security collapse.

The 10/10-rated Log4Shell flaw in Log4j, an open source logging software found virtually everywhere from online games to enterprise software and cloud data centers, claimed countless victims from Adobe and Cloudflare to Twitter and Minecraft because of its ubiquitous presence. It was described by security experts as a “design flaw of catastrophic proportions” and demonstrated the potentially far-reaching consequences of sending bad code.

Boston based AppMap, which is going through londonbusinessblog.com Disrupt Startup Battlefield this week, wants to prevent this bad code from ever going into production. The open source dynamic runtime code analysis tool, which the startup claims is the first of its kind, is the brainchild of Elizabeth Lawler, who knows a thing or two about security. Before founding AppMap, she founded DevOps security startup Conjur, which was acquired by CyberArk in 2017, and served as chief data officer for Generation Health, later acquired by CVS.

After selling two companies to large enterprises with a lot of legacy software, Lawler saw firsthand how developers struggled to understand the systems they needed to improve, and found it difficult to deliver fast and secure code across complex microservices and cloud applications.

“It’s surprising to me that people have a mental model of how things work that’s actually separate from how it actually works,” Lawler told londonbusinessblog.com. “If we don’t know how our software works, we make the best guesses when we write code.”

Image Credits: AppMap

That led to the creation of AppMap, based on the simple idea that developers should be able to see the behavior of software as they write it so that they can avoid problems when the software is running. Unlike static analysis tools that don’t show runtime information, AppMap — which is built from scratch over a three-year period — runs within the code editor to show developers which components are communicating with which components, with what throughput and latency , what network speed and if there are errors in between, allowing developers to gain actionable insights and implement improvements faster than before.

All this is done within an interactive code editor extension, which AppMap designed with the help of comic artists and musicians to make it as easy to use and intuitive as possible.

“I’m a data scientist, so I know how overwhelming data can be,” says Lawler. “Google Maps elegantly showed us how maps can be personalized and localized, so we used that as a starting point for how we wanted to tackle the big data problem.”

AppMap at Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt

To coincide with londonbusinessblog.com Disrupt, AppMap is launching three new features: the ability to share and collaborate with other engineers; performance analysis that alerts developers when code changes affect performance and scalability; and security analysis that can identify software runtime code issues in a developer’s code editor before entering their code, whether it be leaks of customer data and secrets in log files or missing or incorrect authentication or authorization.

“We can see the kinds of problems that are now rising OWASP Top 10. Static problems have decreased in prevalence because we have good scanners for them, but what we don’t have great scanners for, these dynamic problems are that design in nature. If you look at the CWE Top 25, almost half of these are code design issues.”

Since it is based on open source, which is evidenced by the startup’s community-sourced approach to changing its product and adding new features, AppMap is free for developers to use. “We don’t think you should be charged for self-awareness in programming,” Lawler said. “If we’re going to integrate with your GitHub and we need to provide some background features or storage, those are paid services.”

Image Credits: AppMap

AppMap, a VC-backed start-up with early-stage pre-revenue, currently has more than 20,000 customers — a figure growing 20% ​​each month — with developers at IBM, NASA, Sonos and Salesforce using the product. It is also expanding its team, which includes employees who have coded at some point in their careers and have deep DevOps, automation, cybersecurity, and test-driven development experience. Kevin Gilpin, the tech co-founder of AppMap, describes his career peak as delivering: “build your vehicle online” pages for Ford.

Although it wasn’t launched until 2021, the startup’s vision goes much further prevent developers from sending bad code. “We spend a lot of time and energy instrumenting things downstream of our application, but we’ve never instrumented the creative process. We’ve never really seen people think, design and create this way. I think by having observability data at that point, it will open up a lot of opportunities. As AppMap evolves, I want to think about how it can go beyond performance analytics and become more of an assistive technology in that area.”

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