Cyclomatic Complexity (McCabe) Metric

Calculates the Cyclomatic Complexity Metric for a class or method. Cyclomatic Complexity is a metric of complexity that counts the number of independent paths through the source code, and assigns a single numerical score for each method. The Cyclomatic Complexity score can also serve as an upper bound for the number of test cases that are necessary to achieve a complete branch coverage for a particular method ([1]).

Implemented by the org.gmetrics.metric.cyclomatic.CyclomaticComplexityMetric class.

Metric Calculation Rules

The Cyclomatic Complexity Metric calculates a value for each method. Furthermore, if a class field is initialized to a Closure (ClosureExpression), then that Closure is analyzed just like a method.

  • Start with a initial (default) value of one (1). Add one (1) for each occurrence of each of the following:
    • if statement
    • while statement
    • for statement
    • case statement
    • catch statement
    • && and || boolean operations
    • ?: ternary operator and ?: Elvis operator.
    • ?. null-check operator

Guidelines for Interpreting Cyclomatic Complexity Values

The value of 10 is often considered as the threshold between acceptable (low risk) code and too complex (higher risk). See [1] and [2], for instance. As McCabe ([1]) says, "The particular upper bound that has been used for cyclomatic complexity is 10 which seems like a reasonable, but not magical, upper limit."

Other sources cite 15 as a useful threshold, and/or draw further delineations between low/medium/high/unacceptable complexity values. NDepend ([4]), for instance, recommends that methods with a score of "15 are hard to understand and maintain. Methods where CC is higher than 30 are extremely complex and should be split." On the other hand, [5] categorizes cyclomatic complexity scores into the following levels:

  • 1-10 = Low risk program
  • 11-20 = Moderate risk
  • 21-50 = High risk
  • >50 = Most complex and highly unstable method

Metric Properties

The following properties can be configured for this metric within a MetricSet. See Creating a MetricSet for information on the syntax of setting a metric property.

PropertyDescriptionDefault Value
enabledThis boolean property controls whether the metric is enabled. If set to false, then the metric is not included as part of the results or the output reports.true
functionsThis List<String> property contains the names of the functions to be calculated at the method, class and package levels and (potentially) included within the report(s). Valid values are: - "total" - "average" - "minimum" - "maximum"["total","average"]
includeClosureFieldsThis boolean property controls whether metric values are calculated for Closure Fields and treated as methods. A Closure Field is a field that is initialized to a Closure Expression, e.g., def myField = { println 12 }.true