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Aerospace Journal Authors: Trevor Bradley, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Aerospace Journal, Software Configuration Management

PowerBuilder: Article

PBDJ Product Review: AllFusion Harvest Change Manager

Helps your organization meet its development goals

Problem Tracking
Harvest can automate and track problems with associated change packages and forms so that your application production environment always has a history of specific changes that occurred and the precipitating events that took place within the development process.

Business Workflow Support
Harvest helps you to create and modify models of your own business workflow processes through simple point-and-click and drag-and-drop operations. It then uses your model to keep software changes under control, schedules on track, and everyone up-to-date. By automating the workflow, many routine tasks are also automated, including notifications, approvals, and change migrations from one phase to another.

Tool Integration
Interfaces from popular integrated development environments (IDEs), such as Visual Studio, Visual C++, IBM Visual Age for Java, and IBM WebSphere, allow developers to perform routine CCM functions without leaving the IDE. As I've stated earlier, any tool integration, no matter what the product, is always evolving. Every product can do tool integration better and should be striving to make these integrations seamless. As the products mature, this will come into play more, but they all have a long way to go in my opinion. Many tools are doing better at this now and have a better understanding of the need and value of source code management. I feel you should be able to be in the IDE of any development tool and have full software configuration management capabilities to the SCM product of your choice without even leaving the development tool. All processes should be available to all users so that the user can be more productive.

All functional groups involved in the development and maintenance process can benefit from Harvest, not just programmers. The entire development process can be controlled, including problem tracking, change management, builds, testing, quality assurance, documentation, and release. Multiple user groups can be created to have certain control access over different processes in states and be assigned all the way down to the file level.

One aspect of Harvest that is truly beneficial to managers is being able to view any state in the tool environment and being able to determine what is being worked for the next release, who is working it, and when it is being tested. The product gives the manager quick access to development activities at a glance.

Harvest's open architecture allows easy access to CCM information. Rather than developing yet another database standard, control information is stored within a commercially available relational database. In our case we use Oracle 10G. Harvest table formats are fully documented. Database information is normally accessed from the GUI, but a site can access the database directly to generate reports or integrate with other development tools. HSQL, SQLPLUS, Info Reports, and Cognos Reports are a few of the products that can generate reports from Harvest Oracle tables. (Table 1)

Harvest Objects

  • Projects
  • Life cycles
  • Views
  • Packages and package groups
  • Forms

In Figure 1 shows a standard life cycle that contains nine states: CR Assignment, Analysis, Development, Development Complete, Unit Test, System Integration Testing, User Acceptance Testing, Production, and Snapshots. These states make up an environment that you provide a meaningful name to. In each of these states you create processes for which users and users groups have access to perform SCM activities.

Each State contains a package view that allows you to view the status of files checked-out or into any package in this view. The data view contains the repository data; this is where all the source code, auxiliary files, reports, documentation (requirement specs, design docs, test plans, etc.), and Oracle code is housed (see Figure 2).

AllFusion Harvest is right-mouse click driven and all processes are available at a mouse click (see Figure 3). There is a mail process that uses hsmtp to perform mail activities from within the product.

Our Experience
We develop and maintain more than 100 applications at New Hampshire's Department of Health and Human Services. The applications are used extensively in our welfare and health services delivery agencies. Example applications are for child-care licensing and managing adult and elderly care. Throughout the state the applications are used by hundreds of users.

My Synopsis and Review of Harvest
If you are in an environment where you require a product that encompasses the best automated software configuration management processbased tool, this is the one. I find the best feature to be the logical moving of packages from one state to another. It makes it very easy to see everything going on at a glance in terms of development in each and every state of your life cycle.

I have been using AllFusion Harvest now for 8 years and find it easy to train developers on and to use and maintain in terms of the administration portion of the tool. I recommend the product highly. It is very robust and flexible to any life cycle and I'm certain it will meet all your needs and help your organization meet its development goals.

Should you have any questions regarding the product (AllFusion Harvest) and its use in our environment with various development tools, please feel free to contact me at [email protected].

More Stories By Al Soucy

Al Soucy is software configuration manager at the State of New Hampshire's Department of Information Technology (DoIT). In that role Al manages software configuration for dozens of PowerBuilder applications as well as applications written in Java, .NET, and COBOL (yes, COBOL). Al plays bass guitar, acoustic guitar, electric rhythm/lead guitar, drums, mandolin, keyboard; he sings lead and back up vocals and he has released 8 CDs.

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