Tools wrap: Borland unveils Gauntlet apps tester

Borland, CollabNet, Electric Cloud focus on application lifecycle management, collaboration

Borland Software, CollabNet, and Electric Cloud are rolling out products for ALM (application lifecycle management) and collaboration this week, including a preview of Borland's Gauntlet, for early quality control.

As part of its Software Delivery Optimization strategy for ALM, Borland is shipping its Borland LQM (Lifecycle Quality Management) offering. The package features multiple Borland ALM products and an early version of Gauntlet, which provides a developer test and defect prevention system that builds quality checks into existing development tasks.

Also included in LQM are the company's Silk products for testing, including SilkTest, SilkPerformer, and SilkCentral Test Manager, as well as Caliber products for requirements management and definition. Training and best-practices services are also part of LQM. Users can use any combination of the products.

"Essentially, Borland's solution is the first integrated ALM solution that links business requirements to code to test cases in an automated and traceable way," said Rob Cheng, director of developer solutions at Borland.

Although LQM might appear to be just a packaging of a multitude of Borland ALM products, seamless integration is key. "Part of the announcement around LQM is Borland has added a number of integration between those products," Cheng said. Integration between the Silk and Caliber offerings, for example, links a requirement to testing.

Headlining LQM is Gauntlet. Acquired by Borland in February, Gauntlet enables testing earlier and more often in the development process. Quality measures can be monitored to reduce rework, improve team productivity, and provide greater visibility into application health, according to Borland. Residing on existing software configuration management and version control systems, Gauntlet isolates quality issues before defects are propagated throughout a code base. Third-party plug-ins can work with Gauntlet to test for additional issues with security, license compliance, code readability, and other factors. 

Gauntlet 1.0, the generally available version of the product, is due to ship by the end of the year.

With Gauntlet, Borland is addressing a critical problem: a lack of early testing in the software development cycle, which has resulted in poor-quality software, said analyst Rikki Kirzner, CEO of Centennial Global Research. Software bugs can have major consequences, such as Toyota's recent recall of its Prius automobiles and Segway's recall of its scooters, Kirzner said.

"The problem with software bugs and software defects has gotten worse over the years," Kirzner said. "As software products have become more complex and software becomes more sophisticated, the issues of bugs are not going away."

"The issue is that testing after the fact is too late," Kirzner said. While applauding Borland's Gauntlet effort, Kirzner did add that the product is young and needs additional integration with other lifecycle pieces.

Pricing for LQM is set on a case-by-case basis. SilkCentral, for example, costs between $1,700 to $2,000 for a named user.

Electric Cloud, meanwhile, has announced ElectricCommander, an enterprise solution for automating software production processes. These processes include the build, package, test, and deployment steps that follow coding in software development projects. The product automates and puts a graphical interface on these processes, which have largely been the domain of difficult-to-maintain, homegrown scripts, according to Electric Cloud.

Web-based ElectricCommander allows development teams to define, modify, and reuse software production processes across products, teams, and geographies. The product can scale to tens of thousands of jobs and is usable for compliance with regulatory measures such as Sarbanes-Oxley or HIPAA.

Electric Cloud's software actually could complement Borland's ALM software, said Mike Maciag, CEO of Electric Cloud, with Electric Cloud handling the actual production side of the software development process.

CollabNet is shipping CollabNet Enterprise Edition 4.5, geared for collaborative software development projects done by teams of developers who are geographically dispersed.

"Over the last seven years, what CollabNet's mission has been is to look at teams that are not collocated but they're distributed," said Bill Portelli, CEO of CollabNet.

An enhanced project workspace is featured, as is the ability to share best practices, content, and ALM approach across projects. The workspace features a wikilike editor to populate project pages with static or dynamic content without coding. Acting as a hub for project members to access tools, the workspace hosts the version control system, issue tracker, and communication tool.

Portable ALM templates in Version 4.5 leverage best practices and boost productivity, according to CollabNet. Elements in a workspace can be exported to a new project. Managers also can define their own templates and incorporate methodologies such as RUP (Rational Unified Process) or Agile.

Expanded reporting features include point-in-time or trend reports. Queries can be defined at any level of the environment, such as domain, project, or end-user. Also, queries can be propagated to others.

Version 4.5 features improved integration with authentication systems such as Microsoft Active Directory. Web services-based APIs are featured for CollabNet's Subversion version control system and CollabNet Project Tracker. Pre-built connectors integrate the platform with products such as Mercury Quality Center, for software quality testing.

CollabNet integrates with IDEs such as Eclipse, NetBeans, and Oracle JDeveloper. It does not directly integrate with Microsoft's Visual Studio, but CollabNet can link to Visual Studio via the Microsoft Visual SourceSafe versioning tool.

CollabNet 4.5 costs from $20,000 to $100,000 for distributed teams of 20 to 100 persons. CollabNet's Cubit, an optional add-on to CollabNet 4.5, serves as a build and test program that aggregates builds and testing among a grid of computers.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.