Closing the collaboration gap
SourceForge Enterprise Fusion and Merant Professional bring distributed development teams together
SourceForge also eases project setup and administrative tasks such as permissions assignment with a helpful user matrix. However, SourceForge does not allow administrators to save project settings for reuse in subsequent projects, forcing them to re-enter user roles and security settings, as well as reconfigure reports, in all future engagements. Merant does not suffer from this limitation, making it much more suitable to large IT organizations.
SourceForge’s task tracking capabilities make it easy for managers to identify bottlenecks and balance workloads before projects get bogged down. But here again, Merant offers deeper functionality, with the ability to initiate, assign, and track subtasks.
Good bug and issue tracking is also necessary for project success, and both SourceForge and Merant allowed me to keep close tabs on all change requests and software defects in my project, incorporating them into the task flow with ongoing status, history, and supporting documents. SourceForge supports a very large number of text and binary file types as well.
Further, SourceForge offers nice extras such as the Collaborative Development Process framework, a set of project templates that comply with the Software Engineering Institute’s Capability Maturity Model for Software (SW-CMM) — specifically levels two and three, the design and development phases.
Source and Release
Merant, which built a legacy on its PVCS product, offers stellar source control in Professional’s Version Manager app. From command line and desktop, to Web and IDE clients, Version Manager will satisfy local and remote developers regardless of programming discipline.
Version Manager’s clear access to revision histories and version labels, good code conflict resolution and rollback, and tight integration with Tracker for issue correlation, makes Merant a good choice in concurrent and parallel development. Security can be tightly controlled intra-code, and passed off with new permissions, for example, when moving code from development to production. I found file control and auditing seamless.
SourceForge offers CVS (Concurrent Versions System), an open source repository, as well as support for IBM Rational ClearCase VOB (Versioned Object Bases) databases. From within SourceForge, I could browse or search the code repository, review change histories, and perform color-coded file differentiation. But while Merant provides browser-based access to source code and control features, SourceForge only covers the basics; code can only be accessed via IDE, and associating a code change to a specific task, for example, remains a manual process.
Merant’s solution goes another step further by including the Build application, a completely automated application build-management system based on Catalyst Systems’ Openmake. Without requiring scripting, Build uses code dependencies and rules to generate your releases with improved speed and accuracy. Although the included version only supports Windows applications, an upgrade to the Enterprise version of Build will allow you to manage releases across a greater number of platforms.
Good reporting features helped round out both of these solutions. SourceForge allowed me to easily generate data on tasks or tracker issues with stacked bar charts for easy visual consumption. I could tab over to view underlying data and drill down to see details, such as the history on an overdue task. I was also able to build queries using most any combination of data points, save the reports for reuse within the project, and share them with teammates.