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ThoughtWorks Studios' Mingle captures "murmers" and "waves" around project

Thoughtworks Studio's adds new functionality features to its software project reporting and program management tool, Mingle. Mingle 3.0 allows for multiple software tool integration including Google Wave and Tasktop Pro.

ThoughtWorks Studios' latest release of its Mingle project management tool evolves its collaboration and program management features, according to the company, and adds additional reporting capabilities and scalability. Mingle 3.0 now also offers integration with Tasktop Pro, which allows Mingle users to access task-focused work from the Eclipse development environment and utilize automated time tracking. Further, it will offer Google Wave integration when Wave, Google's upcoming tool for real-time communication and collaboration, becomes generally available.

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Mingle is a component of ThoughtWorks Studios' recently launched Adaptive ALM, which also includes the Twist test automation tool and Cruise for release management.

According to Cyndi Mitchell, managing director for ThoughtWorks Studios, Mingle is "trying to capture the ambience, conversation and collaboration that happens around a software development project. If you can do that, it will become the system of record."

Mingle's new communications platform, called "Murmurs," is based on instant messaging (IM) and "Twitter-like" technology, according to the company. The IM environment allows anyone involved in a software project to conduct online conversations that then become associated with a Mingle artifact.

"A lot of times in projects a lot of asynchronous, unstructured data like IM chat, conversation, and email happen around a document or a requirement," said Chad Wathington, vice president of product management for ThoughtWorks Studios. "Say during a daily build, or something happens programmatically, you can publish it into the stream without sending email. It's a really powerful way to associate asynchronous information about a product to relevant daily work. It's relevant in distributed environments in particular."

Murmers can also be originated by non-humans, Mitchell said, such as the build tool can communicate to Mingle that the build passed or failed.

While Wathington acknowledges there is some overlap with Murmers and Google Wave, he said "Waves are good at replacing email, typically around a specific topic. Google sees Wave as being good at having unstructured conversation/collaboration around a document. I can refer to a Mingle card in conversation, and Google wave will pull in a graphical representation of the card."

Dave West, analyst at Forrester Research, said that given all the nonstructured and semistructured data that exists for a typical development project, Murmers is a "useful" feature. He also notes that IBM Rational's Team Concert "does that well, with a similar capability. It's context-sensitive collaboration."

In terms of the Google Wave integration, "if an organization selected Wave as a collaboration platform then it makes sense to hold the collaboration in Wave rather than Murmers," West said. He added that Microsoft SharePoint also has some capabilities around context-sensitive collaboration. "It will be interesting if Mingle will have integrations with SharePoint. I'm surprised they did Wave before SharePoint. It indicates the relationship ThoughtWorks and Google have."

Most interesting in Mingle 3.0, West said, is the Tasktop Pro integration, which will enable teams to utilize Tasktop's automated time-tracking solution. This is the type of program management feature that Mingle, which he said is a "good project team tool," has been missing.

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