As IBM continues to prepare its IBM Rational Team Concert Express for release later this year, the company is inviting software developers to collaborate on the development of the software using its Jazz.net development Web site.
Previously in a closed beta, available to only IBM customers, partners and academics, Jazz.net is based on the Jazz collaborative development environment. Here developers can contribute to the Rational Team Concert Express product, mid- and small-sized development team software that's being offered as a lightweight alternative to the traditional Rational tools suite. It is intended to streamline the development work of teams working within organizations and across dispersed locations.
IBM has said that most of the IBM Rational portfolio will evolve to incorporate the "open commercial" Jazz technology over the next several years. The company hopes Jazz will meet with popular adoption for server-side development, akin to the popularity its Eclipse development platform found on the client-side.
Role in agile development
User Gail Murphy, professor at The University of British Columbia, has tested Jazz and IBM Rational Team Concert in computer science teaching and research. She said the software can be used to support agile development, as it does not dictate any processes.
"We have been pleased with it on the teaching side. It is supporting a class of 80 students across 20 project teams, and it has been performing well," she said.
On the teaching, it gives students and teachers a chance to see how they communicate in a development environment, Murphy said. "They get an opportunity to see how to create work items and how to communicate changes," she said.
The benefits of the software on the research side are in the tight integration of issue reports with related source code and in "providing a platform where the notion of time is directly built into the product," Murphy said.
At the university, research is ongoing under the banner of "Emergent Teams." The idea is to dynamically form teams around specific project issues. Based on how files have changed in the past and who has participated in these changes, an Emergent Expertise Locator (built as an extension to the Jazz platform) can suggest which members of a team might be suited to handle a particular problem.
The future is Jazz
When Eclipse came on the scene, it allowed developers to create unique IDEs specialized to their own needs. A similar philosophy is behind Jazz, said Scott Hebner, vice president of strategy and marketing for IBM Rational.
"If you go back to five years ago, one challenge as a user of tools was that you would have to use more than one tool. There was no tester, QA person or developer who used just one tool. But they were hard to integrate. You couldn't collaborate very effectively," he said.
So IBM and others kick-started Eclipse as a platform to build tools on -- so "users could collaborate across tools as individuals," he continued. "Jazz is a technology platform that allows you to integrate and configure prods. Jazz is the underpinning. You can buy products that can be integrated with Jazz as with Eclipse."
Rational Team Concert is the first result of this effort, Hebner said.
"Jazz will shape the entire portfolio as we go on. Tools like ClearQuest and BuildForge and so on will evolve to be based on the Jazz technology platform. We are going to modernize and evolve our current products," he said.
In the market, IBM's Rational Unified Process (RUP) was sometimes seen as a restrictive offering, not in the spirit of flexible process support implied by agile methods. IBM seems to be interested in changing that with Eclipse and now Jazz.
"Every customer is unique to some degree in how they want to operate," Hebner said.