Agility and automation mark new application development and QA tools

Survey new software test automation, business process management (BPM) and agile development tools from Klockwork, OutSystems and others. These tools assist in doing rapid iteration development, modeling, testing and review and other software development and testing tasks well.

Software developers and testers have some new tool choices to help with agile computing issues like velocity and

automation. While agile is spotlighted in these products, practitioners of any methodology can benefit from these new products, according to vendors.

Klocwork Inc., developer of automated source code analysis tools, is targeting the needs of agile development organizations with KlocworkInsightPro, a new suite of developer tools to help boost iteration velocity throughout the software development process. The suite includes tools for continuous static analysis, collaborative peer code reviews and automated code refactoring.

Built on Klocwork's source code analysis technology, Klocwork InsightPro is not only a major upgrade, it's also a shift in focus for Klocwork "from being all defects all the time, to a much more holistic agile enabling toolset," said Gwyn Fisher, Klocwork chief technology officer. And the suite is aimed at what Fisher said is the least-served constituency in the agile movement: developers and testers. "All the tooling for agile lies around project/product management, time management, etc. With the exception of continuous integration tools, little is targeted at users in the development environment."

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Fisher said InsightPro is "moving into realm of continuous analysis." It provides continuous static analysis that detects critical defects and security vulnerabilities at the developer desktop, as code is being written. Feedback is provided into the editor along with suggestions and a retrospective look, Fisher said. A major action such as opening or saving a file triggers the analysis in the background.

InsightPro's collaborative peer-based tool for code review is designed to get the larger community to review the code and communicate with each other, and parallels the social networking model, Fisher said.

Finally, InsightPro's automated refactoring tool is an automated way for developers to modify code based on patterns that make sense and conform to style guidelines to achieve clean, easy to understand, and more maintainable code. "Refactoring has become more popular in the last few years, largely in the agile community," Fisher said. The purpose is when you check in code that you're ready to sign off on, you should not only check in something functionally correct but also elegant, well designed, and suitable for next guy in line to pick up and starting working with it immediately, with no hidden gotchas."

Also targeting agile development organizations is OutSystems with its new Agile Platform 5.0, a modeling platform that in the latest release includes business process technology. "We tried to address key challenges our IT users have been telling us. They want to extend the modeling environment to support more enterprise-wide processes, so we've added some business process technology," said Mike Jones, vice president of marketing for Portugal-based OutSystems.

With the new business process layer, IT organizations can model, integrate, deploy, execute, monitor and optimize human-to-system processes that are in synch with the applications that support them, according to the company.

"We're merging the lifecycles of application design and process design," Jones said. "We can now model business processes, and all artifacts from the application are available to you. The challenge in a typical BPM (business process management) lifecycle is once business defines the process IT has to model the forms; this becomes simple with the Agile platform."

In addition, Embedded Process Automation (EPA) technology allows simplified deployment of process definitions with support for automating human-to-system interactions. The Agile Platform 5.0 also includes a predefined analytical model providing process reporting directly from the defined process management APIs. Multilanguage enhancements and email integration are also new.

Jones said Outsystems is not moving to the traditional BPM space, but did note that "BPM is pushing down into appdev, and we're pushing into the process space. These worlds seem to be colliding." The value add is speed, he said. "We're adding value with the speed they can deploy processes on top of applications, so they can work more in an agile way in both the process and appdev layers."

While Jones said OutSystems' best practices and technology are Scrum based, he said organizations that are not agile shops could also benefit from use of the modeling tool.

Another announcement, this targeted at QA teams, recently came from Replay Solutions, a developer of application problem resolution technology. ReplayDIRECTOR, with its record and replay technology, helps QA quickly and accurately identify and reproduce Java defects on any version of the Windows OS, and that now includes the new Windows 7.

"Much time is spent on reproducing software defects in the environment in which they occurred," said Jonathan Lindo, Replay's CEO. "[ReplayDirector] allows you to automate 30 percent of the software lifecycle."

Lindo said Replay competes with vendors such as VMware, "which added record/replay to its workstation product, and Microsoft with Visual Studo 2010 and what it's calling historical debugging; BMC is the closest with appsight."

What differentiates Replay, Lindo said, is it records "at the application level, as opposed to the OS or hypervisor level. On replay you're executing the code. You can step through and debug a live running application. We also have deep support for Java."

Lindo said support for .NET is on the roadmap for 2010.

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