Rational Quality Manager 4.0.4 – First Look

I’ll be the first to admit I have been pretty slow on the uptake of CLM 4.0.4.  I have been kept pretty busy with a lot of test automation opportunities and been focusing my time on Rational Test Workbench lately.  I got as far as installing CLM 4.0.4 the other day and then got pulled away again.  Well I finally got a few minutes to browse the New and Noteworthy page today and to tinker around a bit in the tool.  Wow, I’m a bit biased, I will admit, but Rational Quality Manager came out on top in this release!

I will try to blog about some of the new features over the next week or so, but I wanted to start with a gem I found buried in the details:

Displaying short names of links instead of numbers in table views

This all comes down to usability.  One of the most powerful capabilities of the Rational Collaborative Lifecycle Management system is the ability to link artifacts one to another.  With these links, you can know which test cases validate which requirements.  You can see which development plans are tested by which test plans.  There are a multitude of places where these links show up, particularly in tables when you choose to view Traceability.  Let’s take a test case list in a test plan, for example.

4.0.3 test cases

This traceability has huge benefits.  And as long as the relationships have been one-to-one or somewhere close, you are OK.  But when you start to scale up to a one-to-many relationship, our table displays start to break down.  Now to be fair, it’s not easy to cram a lot of relationship information into a table such as the one above.  But prior to 4.0.4, if you had more than one link per cell, we would just list a stream of links with a one-based index.  You had no idea just looking at them as to what the links pointed to.

4.0.3 test cases multiple requirements

Oh sure, you could hover over each one and find the details in the hover window or you could click on the test case and go to the Requirements section to see the list, but that takes time and effort.

Now here is the same table display in 4.0.4.

4.0.4 test case multiple requirements

The difference may be subtle at first, but the requirement links are no longer just a one-based index.  Those numbers are the “webID” numbers – the unique numbers associated to every artifact in the repository.  Everyone gets attached to their favorite requirements by number.  Or you may get to know a pesky defect by its number rather than its name.  Now you can pick them out of the crowd easily.  The links consume very little more space than before, but they provide so much more value.


IBM Rational Performance Tester – Passing data between tests

Testing today’s complex, hybrid applications is getting harder and harder.  One reason is that “Application” Under Test is now really a system of many applications.  In order to really emulate the business processes conducted by users, we sometimes need to interface through multiple technologies.  In the world of performance testing, that means we may be using one application based on a legacy interface (say, 3270) to produce some piece of information we need, and then using that piece of information as an input to a second application (say, a web-based application).

This video demonstrates an easy, effective way to pass information between performance tests of the same or different protocols through Rational Performance Tester’s graphical interface with no coding required.


The Official Rational User Community

A couple weeks back, I had the privilege to participate in a panel discussion with John Montgomery, VP of Project Delivery at uTest and Yoram Mizrachi, Founder of Perfecto Mobile.  We chatted about why testing mobile apps is fundamentally different – in fact, harder – than testing more traditional software systems.  We talked a lot about challenges but also spent a fair bit of time on how to address those challenges.  Agile techniques, automated testing tools, device clouds, crowdsourcing and many other things must come together if a test team expects to keep up with the pace of Mobile these days.  We each also took a shot at predicting the future by speculating on what we think the next big challenge to mobile development and testing will be.

I really enjoyed the chance to talk with a couple of the brightest minds in Mobile Testing.  Give the recording a listen on the Rational User Community site (if you aren’t already a member, take a few minutes to join and get on their notification list for future events.

“Now… where to begin?”

I kept hearing Bilbo Baggins ask that question in the beginning of the “Lord of the Rings” over and over again each time I sat down to start this blog over the last week or so.  Like Bilbo, I’ve wanted to get started writing for some time but just couldn’t find the right place to start.  Bilbo eventually came up with the chapter “Concerning Hobbits” in which he describes Hobbits and life in the Shire.  Well, maybe that works for me as well.  In this inaugural blog post, let me introduce myself and provide a little bit of my background.

My name is Dennis Schultz.  I am a Solution Architect in the Rational software brand of IBM.  I have been focused on quality and testing for my entire career.  I started out at a large aircraft manufacturer in St. Louis, MO (it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out who that is).  I was involved in flight line avionics testing.  I designed, built and supported automated test equipment to validate and diagnose avionics failures during final assembly.  I loved the chance to work with both hardware and software systems.  I also loved that I was able to see a project from inception through to deployment.  (Seeing a jet fighter go vertical off the runway on my way into the office was pretty cool, too.)

After nearly 10 years in the aircraft business, I took the plunge to a small company.  I joined Rational Software Corp. when Rational was around 1200 employees.  The next few years saw very rapid change as Rational acquired numerous companies and assembled the first really integrated suite of software development tools – the predecessors to Collaborative Lifecycle Management solutions.  When Rational was acquired by IBM in 2003, I realized we had only scratched the surface.  There were tremendous opportunities within IBM to realize the mantra of Rational – to truly make a difference in the software industry.

Since becoming part of IBM, I have continued to stay involved in quality and testing.  I have done tours in Marketing, Sales, Enablement and various other departments.  Today, I’m in the Emerging Technologies team.  My team is a world wide resource for IBM software account teams.  We engage with some of our most forward-thinking clients, not only helping them to leverage IBM solutions, but also to partner with them to understand what they need today and what they will need tomorrow.  We not only help clients get the most out of their IBM software investments today, we are a conduit back to IBM Development Labs where we help to influence what’s next.

Our team is constantly learning in our engagements with client.  My hope is that this blog will help me share some of that new-found knowledge with a larger audience.  I have some ideas on what I would like to share, but as Bilbo discovered, you never really know where events will take you.  The world of IT is changing around us constantly.  We may not be engaged in anything as dramatic as Bilbo’s ultimate fight of good against evil, but every testing team has a few Orks and Goblins to face daily.  I don’t pretend to be Gandalf the Gray, but hopefully I can point you in the right direction now and then on your quest to save Middle Earth (or at least to save your testing team).