CHANGE AND CONFIGURATION MANAGEMENT TOOLS
Tim Cloonan, Director of Marketing Communications
Brisbane, Calif.–based CollabNet's Subversion is a free, open-source version-control system that's taken the software development world by storm. Designed to address the shortcomings of CVS, the free tool that handled version control needs for nearly every major open-source project, Subversion provides an attractive alternative to expensive, high-end, source code management packages. Several features make it particularly appealing: Check-ins of multiple files are done as a single changeset, and check-ins of changesets are atomicall modified files are checked in as a single transaction, or none of them are. Subversion rolls back a partially completed check-in should a problem occur. This step prevents incorrect versioning in case of a conflict or error. Subversion supports check-ins of entire directories as a single commit, which makes for facile updates of entire projects. It also supports the use of metadataeither text or binarythat can be associated with any and all files. Add easy, inexpensive branching and multiple networking protocols, and you have a winning product. On top of that, Subversion offers a server that's more portable than CVS and more functional than Windows, and that can run in stand-alone mode or as a module in Apache 2.x. All these goodies add up to the best version-control product on the market today. The fact that it's free and open-source is just a bonus.
Productivity Award Winners
Changehuman nature abhors it, but technology relies on it. AccuRev manages it, subduing the beast with an innovative approach that developers call beautiful. This year, AccuRev again receives the industry nod, having won the Jolt Award last year.
Managing a software project can quickly deteriorate into a game of pick-up-sticks with a steaming plate of slippery spaghetti, but Lexington, Mass.–based AccuRev takes a signature approach to configuration management. It departs from traditional file-based change management, offering instead an approach in closer harmony with the contemporary development toolset.
AccuRev's adaptable, stream-based visual process offers a simple interface that supports the developer, including necessary flexibility for parallel development and private versioning. Add fully integrated issue tracking, and everyone, from junior developer to manager, is happy.
Judging the Change and Configuration Management category can be a bit of a trial. Heavyweight process support adds up to big, complex tools; hence, painful installations. Based in Stuttgart-Vahingen, Germany, Intland Software offers up a product that provides a pleasant shock: Download. Unpack. Run! It contains its own J2EE server, and is up within two minutes of the download's completion.
For all its ease of adoption, CodeBeamer is no feature lightweight. It provides a development-team portal that gives you issue tracking and workflow, automated build scheduling, forums, live chat and a dashboard that offers an instant view of your projects' status. For version control itself, CodeBeamer can work with Subversion, CVS, PVCS, CM Synergy and SourceSafe. It integrates with Eclipse so that developers never have to leave their IDE Barcalounger, but anyone on the team can access its functions with nothing more than a Web browser.
A configuration management system should never make developers wait. Perforce's fast implementation and lightweight architecture ensure that using revision control is not only natural, but doesn't interfere with the development process. The result? You can use Perforce for things that heavier-weight tools make too difficult, such as keeping track of temporary changes. Developers will welcome the change-oriented model with support for atomic change transactions, and interfile branching makes working with large changes as easy as dealing with well-localized ones. The ease of traceability through release cycles is a key benefit; for example, Perforce makes it convenient to access information such as all the changes made as a part of a release, the owners of those changes, and how releases differ. Its low price and administrative cost make this Alameda, Calif., company's product a top contender.