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About CodeQL

CodeQL is open source and free for open-source projects. It is maintained by GitHub and naturally has excellent integration with GitHub projects. CodeQL generates a "database" during the firmware build process that enables queries to run against that database. Many open-source queries are officially supported and comprise the vulnerability analysis performed against the database. These queries are maintained here - github/codeql.

Queries are written in an object-oriented query language called QL. CodeQL provides:

  1. A command-line (CLI) interface
  2. A VS Code extension to help write queries and run queries
  3. GitHub action support for repo integration via code scanning
  4. In addition to other features described in the CodeQL overview

CodeQL Usage

CodeQL provides the capability to debug the actual queries and for our (Tianocore) community to write our own queries and even contribute back to the upstream repo when appropriate. In other cases, we might choose to keep our own queries in a separate TianoCore repo or within a directory in the edk2 code tree.

This is all part of CodeQL Scanning. This page has information concerning how to configure CodeQL scanning within a GitHub project such as edk2. Information on the topic of running additional custom queries is documented here in that page.

In addition, CodeQL offers the flexibility to:

  • Build databases locally
  • Retrieve databases from server builds
  • Relatively quickly test queries locally against a database for a fast feedback loop
  • Suppress false positives
  • Customize the files and queries used in the edk2 project and quickly keep this list in sync between the server and local execution

EDK2 PyTool Extensions CodeQL Module

A Python module located in edk2toolext/ provides helper functions that platform and CI build files can use to support CodeQL enabled builds with minimal effort.

The following functions are available. The expected actions to be taken per scope are included as well.

  • add_command_line_option() - Adds the CodeQL command (--codeql) to the platform command line options.
  • get_scopes() - Returns the active CodeQL scopes for this build.
  • Host OS neutral scopes:
    • codeql-build - Build the CodeQL database during firmware build.
    • codeql-analyze - Analyze the CodeQL database after firmware build (post-build).
  • Linux scope:
    • codeql-linux-ext-dep - Download the Linux CodeQL CLI external dependency.
  • Windows scope:
    • codeql-windows-ext-dep - Download the Windows CodeQL CLI external dependency.
  • is_codeql_enabled_on_command_line - Returns whether CodeQL was enabled (via --codeql) on the command line.
  • set_audit_only_mode - Configures the CodeQL plugin to run in audit only mode.

These functions are intended to ease repo integration with CodeQL, ensure consistent command-line usage across repos, and define standard scopes that other plugins and tools can depend on for CodeQL operations.

Integration Examples

This section provides examples of how to use the functions available in edk2toolext/


Call when the command-line options are registered for the build:

    import edk2toolext.codeql as codeql_helpers

    def AddCommandLineOptions(self, parserObj):


Call when scopes are returned for the build file:

    import edk2toolext.codeql as codeql_helpers

    def GetActiveScopes(self):
        scopes = ("cibuild", "edk2-build", "host-based-test")

        scopes += codeql_helpers.get_scopes(self.codeql)
        return scopes


Call when code needs to know if the CodeQL argument was given on the command line:

    import edk2toolext.codeql as codeql_helpers

    def RetrieveCommandLineOptions(self, args):

        self.codeql = codeql_helpers.is_codeql_enabled_on_command_line(args)

In the above example, a Settings class is creating an instance variable that can be referred to later based on the value returned from the function.


Call when a CI or platform build would like to enable audit mode for the current build invocation.

    import edk2toolext.codeql as codeql_helpers

    def GetActiveScopes(self):