If you are involved in large-scale software development, you may be alarmed to hear leading analysts discussing the growing number of Agile rollouts that are failing. Several factors are contributing to this. Legacy and in-house ALM tools have proven to be sticky and hard to migrate from. Their content, customizations and workflows encapsulate product history. Agile tools have moved in, but have not been adequately connected to developer workflow or to enterprise ALM tools and processes. Lightweight open source ALM tools are becoming favoured by developers and being adopted in a bottom-up fashion, but these are disconnected from both enterprise and Agile ALM tools. The resulting difficulty of modernizing and integrating the increasingly heterogeneous ALM stack is a key cause of the failing Agile deployments and ALM stack modernization efforts.
For the past three years, the Tasktop 1.x train for releases was focused on providing developers with the integrations that they need to work with Agile and ALM tools within their home environment, the IDE. Our goal is to bring the productivity benefits of the task-focused collaboration paradigm to as many developers as possible. On the Mylyn side, this has meant collaborating with Agile and ALM vendors and contributors in order to grow the frameworks that have become the most widely extended APIs for ALM integration. With last year’s restructuring of Mylyn to become a top level Eclipse project, these frameworks grew to encompass SCM tools, Build and Continuous Integration tools and code reviews. The Tasktop 2.0 release extends this ecosystem with new Mylyn connectors and new features that support the range of our integrations, including Task Federationâ„¢ and cross-repository Agile planning.
New Mylyn Connectors
For the 1.x release, our obsession with improving the developer’s workday meant providing integration with the huge breadth of ALM tools in use today. This meant getting involved with each of the corresponding open source projects and partnering with the best-of-breed Agile and enterprise ALM vendors in order to enhance their web service APIs and establish the long-term support needed for this level of interoperability. The figure below highlights the new integrations made available as part of Tasktop 2.0 in green, with the most notable being:
|HP Agile Accelerator (Tasktop Enterprise): This builds on our existing support for HP Quality Center and ALM in order to provide both the task management and IDE-based Agile planning facilities. Learn more.|
|Accept360 (Tasktop Enterprise): Brings requirements and other product management artifacts to the developer’s desktop in order to better connect development to planning activities. Learn more.|
|SmartBear CodeCollaborator (Tasktop Enterprise): This is the first full-featured Mylyn connector for a code review tool, SmartBear’s popular CodeCollaborator. Learn more.|
|Polarion ALM (Tasktop Pro): Polarion is the vendor behind the Eclipse Subversive SVN client project and we now have full support for the Track & Wiki and ALM solutions. Learn more.|
|Hudson/Jenkins (Eclipse Mylyn): For the Mylyn 3.5 release we created a Hudson integration that layers on top of Mylyn’s new Builds framework. On top of this Tasktop provides traceability with tasks that exist in ALM tools such as HP Quality Center. Learn more.|
Tasktop for Visual Studio
Many of our customers have been asking for support for their teams and colleagues who are based in Visual Studio. Organizations are building both Java and .NET based applications that need common lifecycle management tools. The Tasktop 2.0 release includes the GA of Tasktop for Visual Studio, which brings the ecosystem of our task connectors into the Visual Studio IDE. Whereas previously only basic integration existed for task management within Visual Studio beyond Microsoft’s TFS product, you now get Mylyn’s functionality including instant opening of tasks, offline access, the Task List and a full-featured and WPF-based task editor.
|Supported Connectors (Tasktop Certified): Accept360, Atlassian JIRA, CollabNet TeamForge & ScrumWorks, Edgewall Trac, Google Gmail, HP Quality Center & ALM, IBM Rational ClearQuest, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft TFS, Mozilla Bugzilla, ThoughtWorks Mingle, Polarion ALM, VersionOne. Adding support for the remaining Tasktop Certified connectors is underway.|
Task Federation, for Developers
The big news in Tasktop 2.0 is not the new connectors, but what we have created on top of this ecosystem in order to solve the problem of ALM stack heterogeneity. Tasktop 2.0 includes a Task Federation framework that provides a layer of insulation between the various stakeholders in the software lifecycle and the implementation details of the organization’s ALM stack. Task Federation manifests differently for each set of stakeholders.
Developers are often stuck working with multiple ALM tools. You may be working on two different projects, each of which has a different ALM tool. Or you may be adopting Agile, but still needing to use the company standard defect tracker. Those of us depending on open source frameworks and SDKs will have dependencies between our internal task and those managed in an external repository such as Eclipse.org or Apache. Tasktop 2.0 provides full support for linking dependencies between the various task repositories that define your software’s evolution, and new features such as cross-repository Agile planning and task synchronization build on this support.
Task Federation, for Agile Planning
The biggest single new feature in Tasktop 2.0 is the release of the Agile Planner that we launched as beta at the Agile 2010 conference. Just as we do not replace your existing ALM servers, we are not replacing your existing Agile planning tool. Instead, we augment it with our unique interoperability features. The Tasktop Planner provides:
|Task Federation: The most important feature of the planner is its ability to show plans that span repositories. Planning your user stories in an Agile tool but using HP Quality Center for defects or an open source issue tracker is no longer a problem. Depending on another team or an open source project? These dependencies now show right in your release plans since Tasktop can display and reconcile state across repositories. All of the cross-repository state is stored in your existing ALM tools as hyperlinks and metadata.|
|IDE Integration: This is the first full-featured cross-repository Agile Planning tool within the IDE. You get a fully native and offline-capable Scrum style task board and a release planner. Relevant content from your web-based planning tool, such as burn down charts, is available when connected via our embedding of web UI gadgets. For product owners and project leads, the planner is also available in the Tasktop desktop edition.|
|Developer Focus: Whereas most tools focus on project-level views, the Tasktop Planner supports developer centric workflows such as highlighting everything assigned to you for the current Sprint or populating your Task List with user stories assigned to you for an iteration. Everything you need for your daily Scrum or release planning is always at your fingertips.|
|Automatic Time Tracking: The Tasktop Planner uses time values from Tasktop’s automatic time tracking facility to make Agile estimation dramatically more realistic|
|Supported Tools: Agile plans can be displayed from HP’s Agile Accelerator and Rally. More tools will be supported in subsequent releases. All Tasktop Certified connectors are supported as targets for cross-repository plans.|
Task Federation, for the ALM Tools Manager
In addition to providing developers and plan stakeholders with a unified view of the various tools and servers that define their planning activities, Task Federation can also be deployed to further unify an ALM stack. Say that you are deploying IBM Rational Team Concert (RTC) for Agile planning, but have realized that HP Quality Center (QC) is completely entrenched in your defect and quality management process. You can deploy a Task Federation setup that bi-directionally synchronizes all the key tasks and fields between RTC and QC so that RTC has the state needed for planning, while QC happily remains your system of record for quality management. Since each Tasktop client includes the full federation functionality and uses Mylyn’s hardened bi-directional task synchronization and conflict resolution interface, it is possible to deploy this solution in a scalable and secure fashion without requiring any new servers.
Task-Focused Continuous Integration
As always, our commercial efforts in Tasktop have been driving framework and open source tool improvements in Eclipse Mylyn. The most notable of these is the new Hudson tooling, which also supports Jenkins. You can now work with Hudson day-to-day entirely from within the Eclipse IDE, monitor and run builds, and inspect results. Accessing build information is instant and available offline. One of the most useful automation features is the ability to run tests that failed on the server within your workspace, with just one click. But the most profound feature here is the first phase of our new support for ALM traceability. If your developers are using Tasktop, thanks to the magic of task activation and automatic change set tracking, you now have perfect traceability between your Hudson builds and the tasks that changed for a given build, providing an unprecedented level of traceability between your tasks, source and builds.
With this release of Tasktop 2.0, we are taking a big step forward in bringing a new level of interoperability and sanity to your Agile deployment and ALM stack, helping developers focus on coding while giving teams a much more complete and real-time view of plans and progress.
|Read the Tasktop 2.0 New & Noteworthy|
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About Mik Kersten
Dr. Mik Kersten is the CEO of Tasktop Technologies, creator of the Eclipse Mylyn open source project and inventor of the task-focused interface. At Tasktop, Mik sets the strategic direction of the company as well as drives many of Tasktop's key partnerships and key customers accounts. He created Mylyn and the task-focused interface during his PhD in Computer Science at the University of British Columbia. Mik has been an Eclipse committer since 2002, is a 3-time elected member of the Eclipse Board of Directors and serves on the Eclipse Architecture Council. Mik's thought leadership on task-focused collaboration and improving the software economy makes him a popular speaker at software conferences, and he was voted a JavaOne Rock Star speaker in 2008 and 2009.