Mik Kersten's Posts

Towards Lean ALM, with Dave West on Board

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Every now and then you have a conversation that changes your view of the world. I’ve now had a dozen of those with one person, Dave West, in his role as Forrester analyst, VP, and Research Director. The common thread in our dialogue has been the need for application lifecycle glue that connects the software lifecycle stakeholders within the organization, as well as across the multi-company and increasingly open source based software supply ecosystem. Both of us realized that it would be more effective to make this vision a reality than to discuss it endlessly. So today, I’m thrilled to announce that we’ll be doing just that, with Dave West joining Tasktop as Chief Product Officer.

The very rapid growth that our products have seen lately is indicative of the need to look beyond any single tool in the evolving ALM stack, and consider the flow of information between the people that define the disciplines of the software lifecycle. Tasktop got to where we are today by placing a manic focus on the needs of the individual software developer, who was getting completely overloaded with the disconnected morass of ALM tools that failed to connect to the source code that defines delivery. That forced us to create a new model of social tasks that emphasized autonomy, transparency and integration across the increasingly diverse tool chain. With Tasktop Sync, our Task Federation has migrated from supporting Agile delivery on the developer’s desktop to connecting the rest of the software lifecycle in order to bring about a “Lean ALM”.

Driving a change in the way that software is built takes like-minded people filled with passion and purpose. Dave’s mission is to help people build software just a little bit better, and with our shared values, we expect that goal to materialize very quickly. In his role as an analyst, Dave has heard the software delivery needs and gaps of countless software organizations that build the products and services that we all rely on day-to-day. In his role as Chief Product Officer, responsible for transforming that need into our product vision and roadmap, you can expect Dave to accelerate our pace of customer-centric innovation even further as we work with our partners and open source community to connect the software lifecycle.

Read more in Dave’s post and Neelan’s post.

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EclipseCon keynote: The Future of ALM – Developing in the Social Code Graph

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

EclipseCon 2012 was my favorite to date, and I’ve been attending since the prototype—beers and demos at Thirsty Bear during JavaOne 2002. What made it so interesting was finally getting all the Eclipse devs in the same space as key folks from Agile and ALM. Developers are the engine of the software economy. But that engine is becoming part of such a complex ecosystem of vendors and open source that to scale software delivery, we need to break down organizational and departmental silos. We need to move towards what Forrester analyst Dave West has coined a Lean ALM. And that’s what my keynote was all about. Connecting devs to project managers, to testers, and eventually to @DEVOPS_BORAT.

Some have objected to my statement that Linus Torvalds’ bigger contribution to our planet is going to be Git, not Linux. Yes, Linux is everywhere. But Linux was a creative imitation, whereas I was focusing on the true innovations that are moving us towards the social code graph, and that’s precisely where Git fits in. Also, early in the talk I mention that Eclipse has gone from 1.5M to 2.5M downloads between January 2011 and January 2012. That’s monthly downloads, and with Vietnam surpassing Germany, a clear sign of the times.

Watch the keynote here, and I look forward to hearing your feedback and ideas.

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Tasktop Sync Studio announced, ALM Architects rejoice

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

As organizations increasingly become software driven, the role of the application lifecycle is taking a new meaning. Connecting stakeholders in the software lifecycle ceases being a nice to have and any gap in connectivity quickly becomes the bottleneck of software delivery. The organizations are now noticing the friction of having developers do duplicate data entry between their issue tracker and Agile tool, or testers and business analysts queuing up weeks of defects and requirements before handing them off to developers. The application lifecycle is only as efficient as its weakest link, and if that link is manual and based on large batches and handoffs, frustration for the individuals and large-scale inefficiencies result.

With Tasktop Sync we created the first general way to connect software delivery stakeholders working in best-of-breed tools across the application lifecycle management (ALM) stack. As we’ve been rolling out Tasktop Sync over the past year to IT organizations around the world, we’ve noticed a number of things. Organizations, especially those who have been around for a while, are trying desperately to apply ALM Automation across the enterprise. To do this, these organizations are having to inventory their tool sets and identify the information flows and the workflows between stakeholders and between their tools, usually for the very first time.

Often acting as a cross between marriage counselor and coach, the Tasktop expert’s first activity in a deployment is to gather they key stakeholders from management, quality assurance, development, and business analysis in a room with as big a white board as possible. In this meeting, the organization will identify the important tools used by each stakeholder, how information needs to flow between these tools, what are the key workflows within each stakeholder silo, and what activities kick off workflows in other silos. The edges connecting the ALM repositories turn out to be various kinds of tasks that represent the lines of collaboration between the stakeholders, and that are then mapped between the various vendors’ tools with Tasktop Sync’s real-time ALM artifact synchronization solution.

In the forthcoming release of Tasktop Sync, we have formalized the lessons learned of the past year with a new authoring tool called Sync Studio. Our expertise is now captured in visual tools for cross-ALM system task and workflow mapping, ALM architecture design, monitoring tools to ease integration maintenance and alert notifications for project and system administrators. To help IT organizations scale Tasktop Sync deployments and better manage the growing number of ALM systems in a typical tool stack, Sync Studio provides a whole new set of ALM infrastructure management tools. Capabilities include:

  greenbullet_icon A Unified View across the ALM Stack: Sync Studio presents ALM architects and administrators with a comprehensive and “live” architectural view of current tools and processes, and the associated interdependencies and roadblocks that need to be addressed.
  greenbullet_icon Visual Mapping for ALM Administrators: Sync Studio provides automated mapping capabilities for ALM administrators to author and configure task, data and workflow connectivity and integration between ALM servers.
  greenbullet_icon Cross-repository Monitoring and Administration: Sync Studio helps maintain the health and performance of enterprise-wide ALM architectures through the regular monitoring of inter-tool functionality and centralized administration of changes, maintenance, trouble-shooting and alert notifications.
  greenbullet_icon End-to-end Traceability for the Lifecycle: through its Task Federation platform, Sync Studio provides complete ALM traceability that is available through the visual mapping and visibility capabilities now available in the tool.

Tasktop Sync is being announced today as part of our coordinated Tasktop 2.3 release. A notable feature from Sync the instantaneous task querying needed for Sync’s conflict resolution, is getting pushed down into Eclipse Mylyn for the benefit of our developer users as we continue to build out both the Tasktop commercial tools and the underlying Mylyn frameworks needed to support Task Federation, both on the server side with Tasktop Sync and on the developer’s desktop with Tasktop Dev and Mylyn.

Tasktop Sync 2.3

  greenbullet_icon Sync Studio: Visual Mapping, Monitoring, Validation and Notifications
  greenbullet_icon Sync Server: Scalability & failover support
  greenbullet_icon New connectors: Accept 360, ThoughtWorks Mingle, full RTC Schema support

Tasktop Dev 2.3

  greenbullet_icon New OEM Edition for HP Quality Center
  greenbullet_icon Mylyn 3.7, including instant Task List search
  greenbullet_icon New connectors: Gerrit code reivew
  greenbullet_icon See New & Noteworthy for more

Contact us for a demo of Sync Studio.

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Running for the Eclipse Board of Directors

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

For the past few years I have served on the Eclipse Board of Directors as an elected representative. I’m running again this year in the sustaining member category to help represent ecosystem of organizations that have made Eclipse successful, and to continue to refine the constructive dynamic that we have created in marrying commercial and community interests.

From: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/websphere/techjournal/0210_winchester/images/JVEBasicLayout1.gif

2012 marks the start of the second decade of Eclipse’s existence. I’ve been a committer on Eclipse for the past decade and have watched as an IBM initiative created a platform that now dominates the tooling space for professional developers outside working outside the VS/.NET stack. The leadership and innovation of Eclipse have created the modern pluggable IDE, innovated the code editing and navigation experience, fostered modern modeling technologies, and led the way in connecting the developer to the Agile, ALM and social coding movements. With the recent announcement of the VS 11 beta we’re reminded again that innovation can be cyclical. The first release of Eclipse from a dacade ago, visible above with its monochrome UI and toolbars, looks strikingly similar to latest version of VS 11 just announced (image from the Visual Studio blog).

While the strength of Microsoft is packaging a seamless end-to-end developer experience on a monolithic stack, the strength of Eclipse comes from the innovation driven by the large number of vendors leveraging Eclipse for gluing together the developer experience on heterogeneous stacks. For this next year of Eclipse’s evolution, both adapting the way that we build that tool stack in the social coding context, and improving ways to support our ecosystem of both community and vendor contributions, will be my priority if elected.

See my full vision statement on the Eclipse Board Elections page.

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Happy Birthday Tasktop

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Five years ago, on Friday January 15th, I defended my PhD thesis on Focusing Knowledge Work with Task Context. The following Monday, January 17th, we incorporated Tasktop Technologies. Driven by the years of research that it took to prove that tasks are more important than files, integration is more important than features, and that focus begets flow, we embarked on a journey to bring to market a transformation in how we work and collaborate around software.

Our journey and passion have been fueled by our customers and our open source community, as to date we have not taken any external funding, and instead embarked on what’s more recently been defined as the Lean Startup approach to building a company in an Agile and customer-centric fashion. Bootstrapping, we have doubled in revenue and nearly doubled in head count each year since our inception, and now support over a thousand customers and over a million open source users. Working closely with our ISV partners, the Eclipse community and open source ALM projects, we are proud to be one of the key contributors defining the future of ALM.

In addition to the opportunity to be a part of a transformative endeavor, what’s guided our vision is a manic focus on the needs of individual software workers. Mylyn and its commercial counterpart, Tasktop Dev, materialized because the growth in complexity of software and the fragmentation of ALM tools were bringing our and our fellow developers’ productivity to a halt. Tasktop Sync was born out of the same need to give other stakeholders such as testers, project managers and business analysts, a connected and collaborative view on the software delivery process. With our focus on integration, our goal is to empower developers and other stakeholders in order to advance ALM to support the rise of the software-powered economy.

We want to take this birthday moment to thank all of the customers and partners who have made it possible for us to do what we love, which is to invent the future of ALM and to strive for our goal of doubling the productivity of software developers and managers. We hope you like the next round of innovations that we are hard at work for launching in 2012, which will be a definitive year for software, for ALM and for Tasktop Technologies.

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Tasktop Sync 2.0 released, ALM repository introspection and task linking with OSLC

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Our aim is to transform software delivery by unifying ALM and empowering developers as the core stakeholders of application delivery. The Tasktop Sync 1.0 release provided the first ALM integration middleware for the wide range of enterprise, Agile and open source ALM tools. They key change that Tasktop Sync enabled was to connect developers with the other stakeholders in the process, such as testers and Agile project managers. By building on the Eclipse Mylyn open source frameworks and ecosystem of Mylyn connectors, we were able to focus our efforts on creating a new kind of synchronization framework capable of providing immediate updates across vendors’ and open source ALM tools. It’s this real-time aspect that created the game changer in terms of collaboration, since for the first time, developers and testers could use their tool of choice while their task updates and comments propagated instantly across organizational boundaries. Not only does this reduce tedious email inbox overload and put ALM data where it belongs, it is a critical step in addressing the ALM disconnect that for many organizations has become is the main bottleneck on large-scale software delivery.

Since the 1.0 release of Sync, we have been swamped with requests to help organizations weave together disconnected best-of-breed ALM tools. A problem we quickly discovered with deploying Sync 1.0 is that most organizations do not have their ALM architecture or data models documented, as these have been scattered across disparate tools and departments. In order to help organizations do for themselves what our professional services division provides, we have added a repository introspection tool capable of connecting to each of your ALM tools and retrieving each repository’s data model. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible to connect the ALM stack, and given the state of ALM today, that has meant creating a whole new set of ALM data model management tools in order to achieve this.

The biggest new feature of Sync 2.0 is new OSLC-based support for linking application lifecycle artifacts. This feature has been three years in the making, kicked off when we started collaborating with IBM on the OSLC-CM protocol, targeted at linking together our common representation of tasks across various ALM systems. The immediate benefit of this new linking support is for organizations with IBM CLM tools in their stack, such as Rational Team Concert (RTC) and Rational Requirements Composer (RRC). In addition to providing the full synchronization that enables collaboration, Tasktop Sync can now link and retrieve ALM data on-demand via this new OSLC-based REST layer. In the video above, you can see a demo of how we are able to leverage the CLM tools seamless embedding of OSLC data in order to provide rich linking as an alternative to full synchronization, particularly suitable to connecting Requirements Management tools to dev and QA tools.

Tasktop Sync is continuing to evolve rapidly in order to become the glue needed to modernize and connect the ALM stack. We have been working very closely with our partners, who are driving the innovation of Agile and ALM features, and ensuring that the new capabilities that they are add are seamlessly exposed in the Sync and Dev products. In order to provide the developer-centric view on our partners’ rapidly evolving ALM tools, we are also releasing a new version of Tasktop Dev, as well as a key new integration, both to be announced later this week. Stay posted for those announcements, and check out all of the new features and overview videos on the Sync 2.0 web page.

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Submission deadline for Agile ALM Connect at EclipseCon 2012

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

This Friday is the submission deadline for the Agile ALM Connect sub-conference of EclipseCon. This new conference fills a gap that many of us have noticed in the conversation around Agile, ALM and developers. The “developers” part of the equation is often either missing or an afterthought. Even though developers were the root cause of the Agile movement, the discourse around Agile tends to focus on project management related methodologies. Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), perhaps by virtue of the word management being part of its acronym, has a legacy of neglecting the core need to make developers empowered and productive. While end-to-end approaches like the Rational Unified Process (RUP) had end-to-end traceability, they treated developers as an implementation detail, and as a result, have been relegated to history books. In this new age of ALM, we need to make sure that we do not make the same mistakes again. The Agile ALM Connect conference is the place to have the conversations needed to bring together the latest developments in open source, Agile, large-scale ALM, and to get developers back to the center of the discussion.

Ten years ago, I got involved with Eclipse as one of the first non-IBM committers, which has given me perspective on the way Eclipse first disrupted and then evolved along with the application development landscape. By way of efforts like EGit, Hudson/Jenkins, Tycho, and the umbrella of Mylyn projects, Eclipse has since become the leading driver of innovation in moving the developer to the center of the ALM picture. Other IDEs and development platforms are now starting to emulate the dev-centric ALM transformation that Eclipse started five years ago. From this transformation, a new set of open source frameworks were created and now broadly adopted. As a result, the ALM projects on Eclipse have come to lead the connection between the developer and the Agile plan, deployment destination, operations team, requirements, and quality management.

At the Agile ALM Connect conference we will be charting the course for the role of the developer in ALM, while connecting the organization to the new breed of open source, Agile and devops technologies. Unlike conferences focused on methodologies, we are interested in the full spectrum of approaches, ranging from tools and automation to people and practices. If you have ideas to share on how the landscape of Agile, ALM, and application development should evolve over the next decade, consider joining the conversation.

For submissions and information see the Agile ALM Connect Conference homepage

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Code2Cloud moves one step closer to open source

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

A year ago at SpringOne 2010, Spring founder Rod Johnson announced a new technology called “Code2Cloud” during his opening keynote (skip to minute 56). Since that announcement, development of Code2Cloud has continued at a rapid pace, with a growing community of private beta users. The ideas and technology behind Code2Cloud have become an underpinning of how we see the convergence of ALM and cloud and a key building block of our vision for a more integrated and developer-centric ALM stack, outlined at a high-level in the following talk.

Many of you have been asking when Code2Cloud (or as some knew it, Cloud Foundry Code) is going to be made publicly available. Today we are announcing a key milestone on this longer-than-expected journey. Tasktop has now been tasked by VMware to bring Code2Cloud to the open source community. Tasktop’s services division has been the delivery partner for the project and Tasktop will continue to maintain and evolve Code2Cloud for the early adopters of the closed beta. Although we haven’t yet determined the specifics of how, when, and where Code2Cloud will be made available in open source, or for that matter the name of the project when it is open sourced, we are committed to making the project available in Q1 of 2012. Code2Cloud will be available via a community and commercial-friendly open source license (either Eclipse Public License v1.0 or Apache License v2.0).

We are announcing this change in the project structure because as with Eclipse Mylyn, we see a successful Code2Cloud as being built on an open and inviting charter for both individual and commercial contributors wanting to leverage the Code2Cloud frameworks and tools. We will work with our existing partners and community over the coming month to define a structure and charter for the project. We encourage any interested parties to contact us at partners@tasktop.com. We believe there are tremendous opportunities for ALM vendors to participate in and leverage Code2Cloud as an on-ramp to their initiatives and to get a step ahead in the move of the deployment destination to the cloud.

Over the past year, Code2Cloud has grown to become a developer-centric integration platform architected to connect developers to PaaS deployment destinations by way of the ALM stack. It supports CloudFoundry and builds on existing tools such as Hudson/Jenkins, Git and GitHub. It also provides a Bugzilla-compatible but cloud-centric issue tracker intended to connect the running application, CI and SCM tools to the developer’s desktop, and unifies services such as authentication via OAuth. A key opportunity that we see now is in making Code2Cloud even more agnostic of the ALM stack and in delivering its integration and Cloud deployment support to the wide variety of open source and commercial ALM tools available today.

If you have ideas or questions on bringing Code2Cloud to open source please post here. If you want to get involved in discussing the structure of the open source project please email partners@tasktop.com. For more see: http://tasktop.com/c2c

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Tasktop Dev 2.1 released

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Hot on the heels of the Tasktop Sync 1.0 release, we are pleased to announce the availability of Tasktop Dev 2.1. As an indication of our focus on the Agile and ALM needs of the developer, the product line previously known as Tasktop is now called Tasktop Dev. This release builds on the Eclipse Indigo release of Mylyn 3.6, includes the latest connectors, productivity features and new Agile planning support, and is a significant step forward in terms of connecting developers to both the Agile and the traditional planning process, while ensuring that we get to use the best-of-breed ALM and open source technologies that make us productive.

James Governor (RedMonk founder and Principal Analyst) and I discussed the release and walked through some of the key features:

Here are a few highlights from the Tasktop 2.1 New & Noteworthy:

HP ALM & Quality Center 11 on Mac, Linux and 64-bit Windows
HP ALM Requirements, Defects and Tests can now be retrieved on Mac, Linux and 64-bit Windows machines using the REST connection provided by ALM 11 instead of the native connection. This feature is only supported when connecting to ALM 11 Patch 2 or higher.

HP ALM & Quality Center Tests
You can now bring HP ALM Tests into your Task List along side your HP ALM Defects and Requirements.

Tasktop for VS: Ability to View Task Associations
The Visual Studio task editor now displays task associations, making it easy to see the parent and child relationships and external dependencies inside Visual Studio. Double-clicking an associated task opens it in the task editor, allowing you to quickly access its content.

Planner Story Board and Kanban
The planning tools now support Kanban for compatible ALM tools, and includes a story board and WIP limits. The release planner now supports grouping stories and tasks by activity or assignee, allowing you to organize your planning around these high level concepts.

Focus plan on My Tasks
The task board and story board now include a “Focus on My Tasks” button which shows you only the tasks or stories that are assigned to you.


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Announcing Tasktop Sync 1.0

Monday, August 8th, 2011

In our mission to improve the productivity of software development, our focus to date has been the developer. With Mylyn for the masses and Tasktop for the Enterprise, we have provided developers the tools that they need to focus on coding amidst constant interruptions and organizational shifts between disparate application lifecycle management (ALM) tools and ever-evolving flavors of Agile. Mylyn and Tasktop provide developers a single pane of glass through which to view all parts of the application lifecycle relevant to their work. But other key stakeholders, who do not live in the IDE, are missing this visibility. Over the course of the past decade, as the heterogeneity of ALM has increased the vantage of these stakeholders decreased. Today we are announcing a new product that will bring all members of the development process into the modern software delivery loop.

Tasktop Sync moves our existing Task Federation(tm) technology from a developer’s desktop client to the server. Developers’ need for Task Federation arose from the fact that in larger organizations, development tasks span multiple systems, from requirements definitions to defects, from issues to change sets and from tests to builds. But tasks not only span systems, they also span stakeholders. If a tester needs to email a developer to get clarification on a fix, or to email a business analyst for details on a requirement related to testing, the ALM stack is broken. With application complexity continually rising, it is no longer feasible to effectively collaborate and report over disconnected chains of email. Just as Tasktop, Mylyn and the task-focused interface have been instrumental at starting to bring about the end of email between developers, today we are embarking on connecting the other members of the software lifecycle. The difference is that unlike developers, most other stakeholders do not live in an IDE-type rich client capable of bringing the many disparate forms of software project information together. Their window on the software delivery process is the web browser. To support them, we needed to integrate directly with the data models of the tools that they use.

Tasktop Sync is the first real-time synchronizer for ALM. While synchronization is largely solved for email and contacts, with protocols and synchronizers working seamlessly across Microsoft Exchange, IMAP, Google Apps and iOS, the lack of a scalable and generic solution has been an endemic problem in large-scale ALM. With Tasktop Sync, the ALM architect simply sets up a mapping between the various ALM systems of record for requirements, Agile, development and testing. For example, the mapping may specify that defects should be one-to-one mapped between the Agile tracker and the defect tracker. Once Tasktop sync has built up its cache, every change in the test system is propagated instantly to the agile tool, and back again, ensuring that all stakeholders can work in their system of choice. We have built on the Mylyn frameworks, Tasktop Certified ecosystem of connectors, and our deep partnerships with the leading Agile and ALM vendors to create this entirely new level of ALM interoperability.

If you are involved in an Agile rollout or ALM modernization effort that is struggling with disconnected tools and increasing presence of open source in the stack, Tasktop Sync will provide you with the integration that you need for all stakeholders to collaborate with context in their tool of choice.


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