Borland Adds Visibility Into Software Development

The company's new TeamInspector product monitors progress on multiple projects, separating out key statistics and indicators and presenting them in a single dashboard.
You've heard of the "shovel readiness" measure for public-works projects.

How about the "release readiness" of enterprise software projects? Knowing new software is release ready could speed employee acceptance and improve productivity in its early use, if the confidence was there that it could do the job it was designed for.

In difficult economic times, Borland Software is trying to guarantee release readiness. It added Monday a fourth tool to its Borland Management Solution that seeks to supply visibility into the quality and state of completion of ongoing software projects. Last July, it unveiled TeamDemand, TeamFocus, and TeamAnalytics to give the beleaguered project manager more visibility into what his developers are doing.

On Monday, Borland added a fourth product, the $20,000 TeamInspector, to the suite. It can monitor progress on multiple projects, separating out key statistics and indicators and presenting them in a single dashboard, said Dave Wilby, VP of product strategy. While project managers are obvious users, the straightforward reporting can be understood by business managers and even the intended beneficiaries of the new system, the targeted users, he said.

TeamInspector consists of a framework of automated inspectors of projects. It uses "a more systematic, fact-based approach to verifying that a software release is ready to deploy," Wilby said in an interview.

The automated inspectors collect data on works in progress and translate it into metrics that can be used to assess progress. Its library so far includes inspectors for the Apache Software Foundation's Ant, a build tool that assembles different developers' Java code; NAnt, a Microsoft .Net version of Ant; Checkstyle, a rules engine for enforcing best practices rules on Java development; Emma, a tool that shows what Java code has been tested in a project; JUnit, a Java test suite; and NUnit, a Microsoft C# test suite.

The data gathered by the inspectors can be presented on a cross-project basis in dashboards. Charts, graphs, and gauges in the dashboard can show an individual project's test coverage, defect rate in static code analysis, build trends where different segments of code are assembled together, and standards compliance trends.

Managers can see the risks associated with one project versus another by comparing the dashboards and estimate which projects are likely to complete on schedule. "It's all about increasing confidence that the code is high quality and low maintenance," Wilby said.

TeamInspector recognizes the different build patterns associated with waterfall-style development, which might have a single build at an appointed hour each day, versus the builds of agile development, which occur with each developer's check-in of newly written code to the change management system. "They're very different mechanisms. We span both," Wilby said.

As part of Borland's Open Application Life Cycle Management framework, an architecture meant to span existing code repositories, TeamInspector can work with a variety of change management systems already in place at development teams, including open source Subversion, Perforce Software's Perforce, and Borland's own StarTeam system.

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