A Look Ahead to the Third Generation of CM Tools


In his CM: the Next Generation series, Joe Farah gives us a glimpse into the trends that CM experts will need to tackle and master based upon industry trends and future technology challenges.

Interactive graphs, tables, and diagrams will be used to provide more natural ways to query data and to configure processes. Drill-down operations and data hyperlink traversal will be a rapid and natural means of resolving queries, especially at product management and CCB meetings.

Usability will be governed overall by the ability of the customer to configure the solution to specific needs. The more extensive and easier this capability is, the more likely that usability will become less and less of an issue. If this can be done iteratively and without down time, all the better.

Beyond the third generation we'll see the virtual file system model (currently used by only by CC?) finely tuned so that the CM services can be applied across a wider spectrum of users, including legal, accounting and business development personnel. This will be accompanied by special purposes interfaces which are integrated into the virtual file system, so that the users can do most of their operations directly from their familiar desktops.

The object-oriented approach to user interfaces will continue to expand, but in an ALM environment, there will be a more pronounced focus on cross-object operations. For example, dragging a problem report onto a change package will add the problem as a traceability link. Dragging a file-system folder onto a directory in the CM source tree might trigger a bulk load operation for that folder. Such cross-object type operations will have to be easily customizable.

Dashboards will grow in complexity, from their infancy in third generation systems, to role-based control centers, whether for a developer, showing all current changes, to-do lists, and past history, or for a product manager trying to assess the state of the product in each of multiple streams. Source tree hierarchies will be complemented with other hierarchical data, and non-hierarchical data relationships so that traceability can be seen simply by expanding the data tree.

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