Facebook unveils tool to automatically fix bugs

The tool, called SapFix, has been used to ship stable code updates to millions of devices using the Facebook Android app.

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Facebook on Thursday is unveiling a new tool it's developed to automatically generate fixes for identified bugs. The new tool, called SapFix, has been used to ship stable code updates to millions of devices using the Facebook Android app. Facebook says that to its knowledge, it's the first to use AI-powered testing and debugging tools in production at this scale.

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As SapFix is developed to work with different kinds of bugs and software, it has the potential to speed up quality code generation for a wide range of companies, Facebook said.

The new tool can run with or without Sapienz, another intelligent automated tool Facebook developed, which tests software and spots bugs. Facebook has been using SapFix to fix bus found by Sapienz before they reach production.

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For high-firing bugs, Facebook explained, SapFix creates patches that either fully or partially revert the code submission that introduced them. For more complex crashes, SapFix draws from a collection of templated fixes to create patches. When that doesn't work, SapFix will attempt a mutation-based fix.

The tool generates multiple potential fixes per bug and evaluates their quality based on three factors: Are there compilation errors, does the crash persist, and does the fix introduce new crashes? Fully-tested patches are sent to a human reviewer for approval.

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Once additional engineering work has been completed, Facebook intends to open source both Sapienz and SapFix.

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