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IBM Jazz Cafe on 21st April 2009 at Hotel Taj Mahal, New Delhi

Posted by Jai on April 21, 2009

I am back from attending “IBM Jazz Cafe” held today at Taj Hotel in New Delhi. Like many more I also registered for the event in advance and was looking forward to know more about what jazz is all about and upcoming Rational Team Concert and its capabilities. Well, the day did not start on a good note, the cab driver first took me to Taj Palace instead of Taj Hotel (mis-communication 😉) but finally we managed to reach the venue on time.

Collaborative Software Development

Whenever we talk about collaboration whether between the team members or tools or processes or using one to achieve another will do excite the Agile followers, well do whatever makes sense and what works for you.

The first two sessions were on idea about Jazz and Rational Team Concert (RTC) and followed by nice demo on RTC.

Jazz is IBM Rational’s new technology platform for collaborative software delivery. Tuned perfectly for globally distributed teams, Jazz leverages highly collaborative and transparent features so as to make software delivery more productive. It is an extensible framework that integrates and synchronizes people, processes and assets associated with software development projects.

What I was more interested in this collaboration:

Jazz has real time collaboration tools built in, plus features that keep everyone up to speed on the project in real time, automatically. Its high level of transparency will change the game for global and distributed software development.

One of the thing which they they mentioned and I was looking forward to :

how Jazz can reduce software building costs and increase productivity.

Rational Team Concert (RTC):

The session was started with setting the context about what jazz is all about. Lets say IBM have got x number of products and its business partners also have got y number of products. Now jazz is about this technology platform for the integration of these x & y products and provide the customers single solution for whole software delivery cycle. To compare it with something like musical where each player focus on their nodes to make it work and everything will fall into place.

Initially there were many doubts like:

  • will it be something new or just a combination of tools, new solution as to call some business strategy?
  • how will it different from using other open source tools in any agile project?
  • will it be like for every small job they come out with a new product?
  • will it be worth the bucks that will be asked for?

Many a times in distributed teams the problem of communication or collaboration is a big challenge and in my own experience:

  • sometimes different people working on the same task without assigning and even if assigned, the other developer forget to check it first because you have separate bug tracking tool.
  • sometimes people forget to update the task status because that is on some different tool and you need to login and update status etc.
  • sometimes teams using common instant messenger, people forget to login and we cross check with other people to check if that person is around or not.
  • sometimes if I need to give reference of some piece of code to the guy on the other side, I usually type the file name, path etc. and then explain the things in details.
  • sometimes if the continuous integration build fails, people get notification by email and they login to that tool and check the logs and the reason to fail.

Well, some people do use one or other eclipse plugins like Myln etc. to overcome these problem and prefer the integrated environment.

Now what RTC offers is

  • Single place for everything: Build Management, Work Items (Tasks, defects etc.), Code Repository, Reports. No need to go anywhere to assign tasks, status update for tasks etc.
  • Pretty good team collaboration like in built instant messengers, eclipse code sharing and many more debug options.
  • Plenty of reporting features.
  • Iteration Planning, milestone check etc.

and many more things, check what different editions offer.

It provides different clients like:

  • Integrated with Eclipse
  • Web based interface
  • Visual Studio client (for visual studio projects)

As a developer I would definitely prefer that everything is integrating with my IDE and on real time basis I can make the changes to items.

To install it:

  • Either use the install manager
  • or get the zip file, extract it and start working, no need to install.

Some of the common questions people asked:

  • how the source code management works, how the stream and workspace concepts instead of branches works.
  • any trainings provided on it by them right now.

It comes with built in template support for different Agile processes like Scrum. Well, you can define your own customized process which the product supports. This also comes with some tutorials and demo to get started.

Well, of course at Taj, food was good (who says there are no free lunch :)).

In the last slot, there were two parallel sessions on Rational Quality Manager (RQM) and Rational Requirements Composer (RRC).

Rational Quality Manager (RQM)

The session started with nice background set like test management problems in any project and importance to keep a check on all from business analyst, quality professionals perspective etc. But myself being not too much into QA part was half lost in the way when big big testing tools name came into picture for integration part and the details, may be just the after lunch effect.

But it still looked nice solution based on jazz platform. It is web based client which you can even access from your IDE like Eclipse. The interface provides you many interesting features and integration with many IBM products, among which RTC is also one. You name it: functional, performance, web services, code or security testing, just do it. Another interesting feature I liked is the keyword driven testing. The business analyst just search for the keyword and you can run the test cases matching those keywords.

(Gotcha, to test the connection with some resource, he opened the popup but there was no cancel button. Well, we had to wait till the default connection timeout, funny to mention :))

People were more interested in asking some practical questions like how they can run different test cases scripts and test plans and integration with their already using tools etc.

Final Few Words

It depends a lot on the individuals that many people like the integrated environment and some prefer just to work on real code stuff part in the IDE and don’t want any kind of hindrance or fancy stuff.

As far as what they promised that it will reduce software building cost (what I interpret, including all the processes in the software delivery, like development, testing, reporting and other management stuff) and increase productivity, in most of the sessions they did mention the factor and some percentage number that it will help,

cost: I would definitely like to compare it with open source tools available and if the team is self sufficient, will work like charm. Whether I would like to invest in it or not?, may be my organization or the client happily invest in it, if MONEY IS NOT A PROBLEM.

productivity:For a team, it looks very promising, but depending on the practical usage in distributed Agile projects. Sometimes, these fancy stuff become more challenge and problem itself rather than solving a problem.

In my personal view, I would definitely like to explore more about RTC and the practical usage in some Agile project.

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