RealTime IT News

All That Jazz From IBM

IBM today formally unveiled its Jazz open development community and its first tools, the culmination of an effort designed to accommodate new collaboration technologies in the development process.

The site now is open to all developers as the open, transparent environment for building Eclipse-based projects.

First announced by IBM in June, Jazz.net had previously been available only to IBM customers, academics and partners.

Jazz.net is aimed at giving -- literally -- customers a view into the creation process of applications.

There are other open collaboration environments -- CollabNet's SourceForge and Subversion are two of the most prominent -- but IBM feels Jazz represents an even-more open environment.

"Anyone can come in and see us developing Jazz products in real time, provide feedback and see us developing it as we're developing it," Kathy Mandelstein, director of the Rational marketing program at IBM told InternetNews.com.

The first project to come from Jazz.net will be IBM Rational Team Concert Express, currently in beta 2 and due to ship officially later in the year.

The project is intended to help small and mid-sized development teams improve their productivity by using more collaborative technologies to keep in touch.

"This transforms the way people can work together," Mendelstein said. "It provides functionality other products don't have, like right-size governance, being able to tell when peer developers are in and making changes in real-time, and just the openness and transparency of the environment."

Steve O'Grady, principal analyst with the research firm Redmonk, said Rational Team Concert Express gives development tools a technological overhaul.

"Jazz is a lot like what a developer tool would look like if it was developed subsequently to the creation of IM and presence and the like," he said. "They are ingrained in the process. In this day and age, when a lot more development is collaborative and distributed by nature, they need the ability to work effectively together."

Rational Team Concert Express adds new features, like a Web 2.0 interface and instant messaging as part of its design. But it's also very reliant on other IBM technologies.

The product uses IBM WebSphere and IBM Lotus Sametime, while also tapping Apache Tomcat, Apache Derby and Jabber.

Because it is built on IBM's Eclipse technology, it's for Eclipse-based application development. However, it also will support scripting languages like Perl and Python.

Rational Team Concert Express beta 2 also includes Web dashboards to help monitor the progress of the project. Managers can set benchmarks and other metrics, while the monitors keep track of how far along the project is and how well it conforms to plans.

The system can check a build against established rules ranging from performance to memory footprint, and alert all team members when a build deviates from those guidelines. Members can then respond by adding comments or suggesting fixes.

"It's really transparent collaborative development," said Mandelstein.

IBM expects that most of the Rational portfolio will evolve over the next few years to incorporate Jazz technology, which will help improve team collaboration and simplify the ability to integrate IBM products.