IBM Adds Social Networking To Rational Team Development

Rational Team Concert is aimed at letting all participants in the development process--not just developers--collaborate.
IBM is about to give its Rational software development platform a social networking injection. The company's new hub for collaborative development, Rational Team Concert, is due by the end of this month.

Rational Team Concert attempts to let all participants in the development process--not just developers--collaborate. When a developer sits down to work, for example, he will see which other project members are logged in, regardless of their location. Developers, project managers, testers, compliance managers, and other team members can use instant messaging to communicate in real time. IBM will reveal its plans for Team Concert at the company's Rational Software Development Conference this week in Orlando, Fla.

Team Concert can be used to manage code submitted by programmers using non-IBM tools. For example, if a software architect changes a project model, developers would be notified of additional work items that might be required, even if they're using C# from Microsoft's Visual Studio and the architect is using Rational Software Architect. IBM is emphasizing integration as a differentiator between its hub and Microsoft's Visual Studio Team System. Connectors can be built between Team Concert and other products, and one will be available for Visual Studio in the fourth quarter, says David Locke, IBM's director of Rational offerings.

Team Concert is a manifestation of Jazz, an IBM research project aimed at using collaborative features to overcome barriers to software development. IBM has opened Jazz to outside developers, and about 20 products from IBM and other vendors will be Jazz-compatible by year's end, Locke predicts. One is Black Duck Software's ProtexIP, which analyzes code and reports on potential intellectual property problems, such as a close resemblance to an open source code sequence.

Jazz contains a code repository that can be shared over the Internet, plus components for managing work items, handling project builds of code coming from distributed teams, and reporting on group activity. Team Concert makes use of these features and integrates them into the Rational tool suite.

IBM officials describe the overall Team Concert integration effort as on the same scale as the Eclipse programmers' workbench, which produced a shared file exchange environment for Java tools and spurred Java tool growth. "It's the most significant announcement for the Rational portfolio since we integrated it with Eclipse five years ago," says Scott Hebner, IBM's VP of marketing and strategy.

Team Concert's Social Side
ENABLES instant messaging among team members and lets them know who's online

AUTOMATES data gathering for documentation, making the process more consistent and reducing workload

SHARES bug tracking information beyond the developers responsible for troubleshooting

NOTIFIES team members when change requests in one area lead to action items in another

Upcoming releases of ClearCase, Rational's version-control tool, and ClearQuest, Rational's system for bug tracking and change management, will have Jazz connectors when they ship at the end of the third quarter, making them compatible with Team Concert. Likewise, Rational BuildForge 7.1, a tool for assembling code from different teams into a combined build; Rational Asset Manager, a system for software asset tracking; and the Rational RequisitePro requirements management system also will be out in updated releases with Jazz connectors in the same time frame.

IBM will introduce beta versions of two other products this week: Rational Quality Manager, a test-planning and test-results tool that reports on quality objectives; and Rational Requirements Composer, a requirements-defining tool that uses storyboards, scenarios, and models to lay out project requirements.

Team Concert will be available in a free Express-C edition for use by up to three developers and in the Express edition, aimed at departments or midsize companies with up to 50 developers and priced at $1,200 per developer. The Standard edition ($3,900 per developer) supports as many as 250 developers. A full-blown Enterprise edition is slated for next year.

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