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Product Review: R&D Reporter 3.0

In this post  we are once again hosting a guest writer, Mr. Leonid Stanovsky, a long-time user of our products who has agreed to share his review.

Last time he reviewed this product, he referred to version 2.5 (formerly named “CompBL”). This time he reviewed version 3.0 and its new features.

GoMidjets R&D Reporter allows users of IBM’s ClearCase UCM to automatically produce reports that are based on baselines and streams. I have reviewed it in connection with a project that involved a few dozens of developers, many ClearCase components and intensive delivery/rebase operations, in which we created builds and baselines on the main release stream every night.

R&D Reporter for Rational ClearCaseMy aim was to assess the contribution of R&D Reporter to our daily operations, mainly in reporting on delivered activities, as a basis for each day’s work plan. Such reports can be produced by built-in ClearCase commands, but this approach has two limitations. First, the commands are complicated and difficult to remember and to apply. Second, the output is very techy and not easily understandable by the managers who need the information. I’ve been planning to write a script to take care of this task for ages, but never got around to it. So naturally, when I was asked to review R&D Reporter, I knew exactly why it might be useful.

I downloaded the latest version for GoMidjet’s website (www.almtoolbox.com), and found it wizard-based and GUI–based, very easy to install.

After installation, R&D Reporter v3.0 opens a GUI that allows you to compare baselines, streams, change-sets and files on a one-time basis, and also to define dynamic rules that generate reports according to pre-defined criteria. This time I was happy to find that the interface is improved and much easier to use, as well as being quipped with new filters which make it work significantly faster.

I found R&D Reporter especially useful for the following tasks:

  • Compare two baselines on the same stream, each representing a different product version and build
  • Identify exactly which files have been changed between two builds on the integration stream–and send this information to all developers to help them figure out the root cause in case of integration bugs
  • Compare pair baseline/stream in any combinations and quickly find and analyze differences between them. I used the product for diagnostic errors detected during an integration testing; it allows for a quick pinpointing of the root of the problem
  • New smart filters that enable you to get a more concise report – just what you want and without unnecessary data
  • Create reports about new baselines very quickly and reliably using Build Release Notes
  • Customize reports and insert the specific ClearCase Attributes we use on activities
  • Create daily reports that compare the latest baseline to the previous one. I’ve achieved this by writing a dynamic comparison rule
  • Create Continuous Integration (CI) reports that compare the recommended baseline to the previous one. I’ve achieved this by writing a dynamic comparison rule; it requires some extra customization (the products comes with a set of triggers that enables this kind of report).

The main advantage of the R&D Reporter for Release and Configuration Managers lies in its saving time on manual report creation, based on the UCM ClearCase commands above mentioned. One of the main problems with ClearCase is that you need to do a lot of work to make the information presentable to managers (lots of copy & paste work from various sources). R&D Reporter on the other hand, automatically generates a tabulated report that can be easily understood by managers who want a quick and clear overview of the changes from one version to the next.

To conclude, I found R&D Reporter to be a very useful tool in saving time and energy for Release and Configuration Managers, and in making DevOps in general more efficient.”

About the writer

Leonid Stanovsky is an experienced Configuration Manager with 18 years of industry experience. He currently serves as a ClearCase supporter at Elad/Intel, and previously served as Configuration Manager at Motorola and Alcatel-Lucent.