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Tasktop brings task management into the application lifecycle

Tasktop Technologies has released Mylyn Tasktop Pro 1.6, a new task-focused interface designed to monitor and manage application lifecycles in an agile development environment. This new ALM feature is designed to assist in the areas of project tracking and integration of rich content.

Tasktop Technologies, creators of Mylyn, an open source task-focused interface for Eclipse, recently announced the latest version of Tasktop Pro and Mylyn. Tasktop Pro 1.6 includes cross-repository accessibility, automated time tracking and rich document collaboration. Tasktop Pro also includes Mylyn 3.3, which now supports C/C++ projects.

According to Mik Kersten, CEO of Vancouver-based Tasktop, Mylyn addresses the task management layer of the application lifecycle management (ALM) stack, linking software development delivery and agile project tracking and management and integrating rich and offline editing for repositories such as Bugzilla, Trac and JIRA. Once tasks are integrated, Mylyn monitors work activity to identify relevant information, and uses this task context to focus the user interface on the task at hand.

Kersten said Mylyn addresses both the management disconnect and the developer disconnect that can occur in a project. If ALM tools aren't integrated with the way developers work, he said, developers may not update the ALM tools, and thus management does not have good visibility into projects.

"If the updates between the layers are manual, management doesn't get visibility into the process," Kersten said. "Mylyn is in every Eclipse release now; that speaks to how important task management is, and the automation between the task management layer and the ALM tools. It plugs automatically into the project management tool and provides visibility up the stack."

With Tasktop Pro, which adds time tracking and cross repository linking, Kersten said users can do things like link a user story in a product like ThoughtWorks' Mingle with defects in ClearQuest.

"They've [Tasktop] done some really innovative things," said Jeffrey Hammond, principal analyst, application development, with Forrester Research. "They're doing what only used to be found in high-end ALM tools. It makes it possible for developers to use tools that are less expensive, like Subversion, and still get context associated with code changes that are critical to things like continuous integration and traceability. And it gives development managers some insight into what's going on in projects. It seems like all the vendors working in this space are trying to plug into Eclipse, and the majority are using Mylyn." As a result, he said, "developers achieve an overview, what has been done in the past, [and] time reports are generated more efficiently and accurately. Past bug fixes are on hand in an easy way. Lots of actions and changes are tracked, stored and won't get lost."

Lars Kurth, contributor community manager at Symbian Foundation, uses Tasktop to manage and monitor issues the community raises. Symbian, a nonprofit organization working to enable an open ecosystem for mobile devices, maintains the code for an open source platform based on the Symbian OS.

"We use Bugzilla to track issues and administrative requests," Kurth said. "Tasktop helps me ensure that all issues and requests are resolved quickly, by keeping on top of bug queues. Tasktop has helped me stay on top of long task lists and is helping me monitor activity in my community, and by ensuring issues and requests raised by community members are resolved quickly."

He continued, "Before I used Tasktop, I sometimes got lost managing lists of issues, and as a consequence not all important issues were raised swiftly. This has not happened with Tasktop, with the result that my community is happier." Kurth said the developer community is starting to use Tasktop as well.

Tasktop has certified connectors for a variety of ALM products, including Bugzilla, JIRA, Crucible, Rally, ClearQuest, ScrumWorks, CollabNet, Bamboo, CVS and ClearCase. Kersten they are looking at IBM Rational Team Concert and Microsoft Team Foundation Server, which "do make their own task management layer to a degree, but they don't integrate with everything out there."

Forrester's Hammond said IBM and Microsoft are addressing some aspects of task management with their own integrations, but "it will be interesting to see whether those products end up plugging into Mylyn anyway as a way to get integration with other products. The reality is companies have multiple SCM tools, multiple change management tools, etc., and it's difficult to rip those out of organizations. They want integration across their toolset, and Mylyn is a good way to achieve that."

Tasktop Pro 1.6 and Mylyn 3.3 are available now. Tasktop Pro is $99 per user and includes all commercial ALM integrations, and Eclipse IDE and standalone application for project managers. Tasktop Enterprise edition is $199 per user and includes enhanced support and additional integration for IBM Rational ClearQuest, with further support for ClearCase expected in November 2009. Mylyn 3.3 is available as a free open source tool from with community support and support for Bugzilla and JIRA. It can be downloaded at Eclipse's Mylyn page.

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