Mike MacDonagh's Blog

Somewhere in the overlap between software development, process improvement and psychology

Tag Archives: team concert

RSDC 2009 Call for papers

So it seems like RSDC 2008 has only just finished. In fact RSDC 2008 UK was only a few weeks ago! But things are starting up for RSDC 2009 already. I hear that call for the papers will open tomorrow. The website isn’t up yet so I don’t know what the theme will be but you can expect more stuff turning up at www.ibm.com/rational/rsdc over the next few months.

This will be the 4th year in a row for the Rational Software Development Conference (May 31 – June 4) at the Swan and Dolphin in Orlando, and I heard somewhere that the next 6 will be as well! Not surprising really as it’s a great venue for the conference.

It seems call for papers starts earlier every year, but that’s no surprise seeing as there are more people submitting and going every year. Technically I expect this year to be about the maturation of the Jazz platform, and I would speculate that we will see some cool things like the Visual Studio integration (since screenshots have already been released). There should be some interesting uses of RTC out there (I’m planning to talk about this myself). I’d like to see something about Bluehouse, Focalpoint, Telelogic and Rational Jazz stuff.

I think that the words Tara, Vega and MCIF will be extremely prominent ;)

First Look: IBM Rational Quality Manager

Note this is from 2008, for a review of RQM in 2011 see CLM 2011 review

Yet again hats off the Jazz folks for making something consumable. With no effort involved I was able to download and install a Beta 2 of Rational Quality Manager (RQM) and login and get a default empty dashboard with no configuration at all 8)

RQM is a web based tool “for test planning, workflow control, tracking and metrics reporting capable of quantifying how project decisions and deliverables impact and align with business objectives.” It’s also Jazz based. A couple of weeks ago I did a First Look analysis of Rational Requirements Composer (here) so I thought I’d have a look at RQM today. I should caveat this by saying I’m not a QA/Test expert! :)

This being a Beta there are some bugs hanging around like the horizontal tabs having a higher z-order than the pop-up menus from the left navigation bar so you’ve got to be precise with the mouse to open the “My Test Plans” tab at the moment and it’s a little hard to create a new test plan :S If only the left menu bar auto scrolled down like the “related sites” links on the far right! Eventually I worked around this by constructing the URI to create a new test plan – https://localhost:9443/jazz/web/console/QM#action= com.ibm.rqm.planning.home.actionDispatcher&subAction=newTestPlan and just typing it into the browser address bar. I had this problem in FF and IE, anyway I’ve got a work around so off I go.

Here’s the blank empty GUI:

Once I got into the Test Plan editor I was able to start creating a structured Test Plan. I like this idea, as instead of a huge Word document with no structure here there are discreet sections with potentially seperate ownership. Obviously in my demo repository there are no requirements to hook into a test plan so I clicked the button to create one, this led me into the Rational Team Concert web interface 8)

Unfortunately I got quite a few errors in trying to save sections of my test plan, and also none of the editors for the various sections would let me type in them no matter how many times I hit the “Edit” link. The idea of structured test assets continues in the Test Case editor, although I had the same problems as with Test Plans here in terms of editing some of the content. I was however able to generate work items (which naturally I did twice) based on my test case and configured environments using the excellent lab management interface :D

Upon executing my generated work item the problem I found was that my test failed. There were no doughnuts to be had! :(

This being based on the Jazz platform there is of course a lot of reporting available (I shifted over to the sample Java PetStore test plan since there wasn’t enough data in my dummy project).

Conclusions

RQM gives you a fully web based quality management portal. The structured nature to managing test assets is a major improvement, and since this is Jazz based I’m sure it’s all deeply configurable for different ways of working and approaches to quality management and testing.

The integration of information from Team members, Test Plans, Test Cases, Test Scripts, Execution, Reports and Defects is seamless and intuitive, with requirements and defects being managed through the Rational Team Concert interface and of course the data is easily reported on.

I’d like to dig more into the integration with other tools such as Rational Team Concert, possibilities with Rational Requirements Composer and the relationship between process templates in these various tools. Not to mention migration paths from other QM/Test tools like the “classic” Rational tools and those from other vendors.

All in all it looks like an impressive, intuitive and powerful product but it’s an early access Beta and has quite a few bugs that can make playing with it a bit frustrating at the moment.

More info

See my first look at IBM Rational Requirements Composer here

See more stuff about Jazz in general here: What’s all that Jazz?

Some thoughts on self-hosting

There are many benefits to self-hosting which tend to lead to self-hosted projects achieving high quality. Some examples of this are many compilers, IDEs such as Delphi, Visual Studio etc. The sheer breadth of testing on self-hosted systems means bugs and dodgy user experiences are ironed out early. More recent examples of high-quality self-hosted development efforts come from Eclipse and Rational Team Concert. Scott Rich recently blogged on the Jazz team blog about RTC having the “smoothest end game ever” and one of the key points that led to this smooth end game was the self-hosting of RTC.

The question is how can we get the benefits of self-hosting in normal projects, since most organisations aren’t in the business of building IDEs…

Personally, I get involved in a lot of projects that aim to improve an organisations software development capability, often these projects involve deploying tools into an organistion to deal with things such as planning, issue tracking, configuration management etc. So in my projects I always make sure I’m self-hosted, that is we use the planning tools to plan the delpoyment of the planning tools :P We track issues in the issue tracking tool that we want others to use and store our artifacts in the repositories we are deploying in the organisation. This approach gives the benefits of broad and deep testing of infrastructure, configuration, integration and usage models. Not to mention the opportunity of being in the strong position of practicing what we preach!

Currently I’m involved in rolling out Rational Portfolio Manager to about 500 people. Changing the way that many people plan and manage projects isn’t terribly easy, but it’s made easier by ensuring that the configuration of a tool and it’s usage models have really been put through the ringer and thoroughly tested. As a result my project is self-hosted in RPM. That way my team is the first to find things that haven’t been set up correctly, is the the first to feel pain points and can fix them before the general user base has to feel the pain.

Not to mention we’re practicising what we preach.

If you’re doing any sort of project and you can work out how to usefully use the output of the project in the project then do so.

First Look: IBM Rational Requirements Composer

Note this is from 2008, for a review of RRC in 2011 see CLM 2011 review

So I downloaded and installed IBM Rational Requirements Composer (RRC) today. I’m not very good at reading instructions so typically I didn’t read them but I still managed to set up RRC server and connect a client within an hour :D Excellent job yet again Jazz people, in the past with the “classic” tools this sort of thing wouldn’t have been possible in such a short time. It even co-exists (but isn’t integrated) with my Rational Team Concert installation. At the moment I’ve got two Jazz server instances which is a shame, but this is only a Beta.

Anyway, I used the configuration utility and with only referring to the instructions once or twice I quickly got RRC setup and working. Having said that the config utility uses an embedded IE instance to access the Jazz Admin console and for me that wasn’t working so I gave up on the config utility and just used trusty FireFox.

The client is Eclipse based but isn’t shell sharing with my other eclipse shell at the moment. I’ve created a Test Project and thought about creating some artifacts to go along with it. I can’t see where to edit templates but since this is Jazz based I’m sure that everything is customisable. I’ve got a bunch of errors showing in my logs and in the Jazz admin web UI so I’m not sure if I’m seeing everything anyway. Perhaps reading the instructions is a good idea!

Overview

It’s clear that it’s an early Beta as there’s still a lot of simple UI bugs but the point of these releases is not to provide a finished product but to give people that are interested a chance to get to grips with the functionality and look and feel. So here’s some of my thoughts and screenshots (clicky piccies):

I set about creating a process diagram

Then a glossary that supported some of the terms that I identified in thinking about the business process

I also played around with creating a Use Case diagram

Because I’ve got a software development background I immediately decided to mock up a UI and screen flow rather than consider any of those pesky requirement things :P

At this point it seemed like a good idea to think about writing an initial Use Case specification, this was cool because I could integrate the various things I’ve done already such as embed the UI mockup, link to the business process and have glossary management done for me too :)

All of which left me with some cross linked integrated stuff to do with capturing my requirements as regards eating doughnuts

Conclusions

It’s quite easy to start setting up a set of integrated stuff including storyboards, process diagrams, use cases, UI mockups etc. and is very non-technical to use. Personally I found the UI mockup functionality to be limited, I’d prefer more free form drawing capability when I create a “sketch” it would take me longer to mock up a UI here than it would for me to build it in Visual Studio – but then again this is aimed at analysts that may not be able to use IDEs. The UI seems very windows based as well, what about trusty web widgets!

I’d like to get at the project template and see what can be done in terms of the elements and strucutre of the project, not to mention document templates for things like Use Cases.

Does this replace RequisitePro? No. Although it’s got requiremetns authoring, marking and linking RRC doesn’t yet provide full traceability management and (at least at the moment) I can’t see where I’d go about attributing and managing requirements attributes. That’s why RRC has integration into ReqPro to provide these things.

Personally I’d like to see versionable requirements artifacts, more flexible UI sketching, traceability management, attribute management and more integration into other Rational tools such as Rational Software Architect and Team Concert.

This is a good start in terms of providing a single tool to support requirements elicitation and elaboration, all the diagrams and docs in one place, easily distributed and collaborated on. I’ll look forward to seeing more of it as time goes by :)

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