Agile SCM - Review of 2008 and Predictions for 2009

Brad Appleton, Steve Berczuk, and Robert Cowham look back at the world on software configuration management for 2008 and make predictions for 2009.

R.I.P. ALF - but Long Live Business Mashups!
As we noted last year, ALF seemed to have rather lost momentum as a cross vendor framework, and we were sad to see it be terminated as an Eclipse project and setup for archival late last year.

The problems with ALF were not the technology, but that the ALF team didn't manage to get sufficient momentum going and get others involved.

Brian Behlendorf talked at Subconf 2007 about his experience with the Apache Foundation and how the lessons learnt there helped CollabNet to get Subversion going. It is not easy to create and drive a successful open source project. Factors that he said contributed to Subversion's success include:

    • Ensuring that all discussions and decisions are on the net and available to all - don't allow any perception that there is an "inner circle" of people who discuss things face-to-face and perhaps don't document all the discussions
    • Create a high quality community to create high quality software
    • Need to be nice to people to avoid a "fork" - Development leaders exhibit good communication skills, and can bring different ideas together.
    • Conscious effort to bring new developers along the path: from "consumers", to bug reporters, to patch submitters, to active contributors.

One of the areas in which the ALF group perhaps didn't do themselves any favours was their marketing - the information on the web site was out of date, and they had a major success story which was quite hard to find! This was that ALF forms the foundation of Serena's successful Business Mashups tool, and is discussed in a presentation to EclipseCon in 2008 .

The source code to ALF is still available for people to use.  So perhaps it is not farewell to ALF, but merely "au revoir"!?

IBM's Jazz Framework and Team Concert
We discussed it briefly last year, and Team Concert arrived with a fanfare in June 2008 (pardon the pun!). There have been a variety of announcements since then - see the site. Interestingly:

We are doing much of our development on, out in the open.  Once you join, you can communicate with the development teams, track the progress of builds and milestones, give us direct feedback on what is working and what is not, and submit and track defect and enhancement requests.

We were also interested to notice that there is a completely new version control tool being delivered as part of Team Concert. Recommended usage is up to 200 or so developers. Those shops already using ClearCase will most likely carry on with ClearCase, but do we detect a sign that ClearCase is maybe fading into the background to become one of the systems that interfaces to the new platform?

It is still relatively early days for Jazz, and yet with IBM's clout behind it, it looks likely to succeed.

Microsoft's Team Foundation Server
As another 800lb gorilla in the market, Microsoft moves on with development of their Team Foundation Server (or Visual Studio Team System).

One interesting note was the impact of "dogfooding" - using VSTS in its own implementation - VSTS 2010 has been in use since 2007. Interesting to note that Microsoft doesn't eat its own dogfood for everything - see blog for details of their version control!

VS 2005 had 25,000 bugs although the burn down shows a chart heading towards zero, but as the presenter Richard Erwin said, anyone who was on the team during that period knows how hellish life was! The comparable chart for VS 2008 shows the impact of "feature crews" and ensuring


About the author

Brad Appleton's picture Brad Appleton

Brad Appleton is a software CM/ALM solution architect and lean/agile development champion at a large telecommunications company. Currently he helps projects and teams adopt and apply lean/agile development and CM/ALM practices and tools. He is coauthor of the book Software Configuration Management Patterns, a columnist for the CMCrossroads and AgileConnection communities at,  and a former section editor for The C++ Report. You can read Brad's blog at

About the author

Steve Berczuk's picture Steve Berczuk

Steve Berczuk is a Principal Engineer and Scrum Master at Fitbit. The author of Software Configuration Management Patterns: Effective Teamwork, Practical Integration, he is a recognized expert in software configuration management and agile software development. Steve is passionate about helping teams work effectively to produce quality software. He has an M.S. in operations research from Stanford University and an S.B. in Electrical Engineering from MIT, and is a certified, practicing ScrumMaster. Contact Steve at or visit and follow his blog at

About the author

Robert Cowham's picture Robert Cowham

Robert Cowham has long been interested in software configuration management while retaining the attitude of a generalist with experience and skills in many aspects of software development. A regular presenter at conferences, he authored the Agile SCM column within the CM Journal together with Brad Appleton and Steve Berczuk. His day job is as Services Director for Square Mile Systems whose main focus is on skills and techniques for infrastructure configuration management and DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) - applying configuration management principles to hardware documentation and implementation as well as mapping ITIL services to the underlying layers.

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