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Questions & Answers About ClearCase Automatic Views

Peter Hack ClearCase architectYesterday we delivered an interesting webcast with Peter Hack, the ClearCase architect.
Attendees have asked questions about the new functionality, and we collected all Q&A as provided by Peter:

Question #1: (1) Will ClearCase Dynamic views become redundant when the “Automatic Views” are deployed?
(2) How soon will happen and at which version?
(3) Can this new feature be phased into current deployment?

Peter Hack: (1) No, dynamic views will continue to provide many unique advantages. I’m predicting that, over time, 90+% of Web view users, perhaps 50% of snapshot view users and less than 10% of dynamic view users will switch to automatic views. As noted in the Webcast, we plan to enhance automatic views over the next few years. Some of those users may have to wait until some key features needed by them are available. (2) We can’t provide release targets without an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) in place. The Open Beta has already been available for a couple of months so you might imagine that a target release is not too far in the future. (3) Yes, automatic views are a new option that can be used by any subset of users that choose to use them. They will require an updated CCRC WAN Server along with the updated CCRC client but should work fine with CC servers running many older versions of CC.

Question #2: Are there plans to provide for manual/automated DO-shopping beyond the automatic views that exist on the developer’s PC?

Peter Hack: As mentioned in the Webcast, we plan to provide enhancements to automatic views over time. Post-V1 enhancements we’re looking at include build auditing support. It’s likely that DO-shopping would be different for automatic views. Dynamic views shop across all accessible dynamic views associated with a given VOB replica. Automatic views are likely to only shop across other automatic views owned by the same user on the same machine (for security and performance reasons). While this reduces the odds of finding a matching DO, shopping and winkin operations are likely to be faster. It’s possible we could have a mode that does shopping across dynamic views if the automatic view is on the same LAN – we have not settled on a final feature set. Stay tuned…

Question #3: When does open beta end?

Peter Hack: Open Beta will probably end when the GA release becomes available.

Question #4: Any change that CC will be open sourced for small groups? It’s death has been stated many times over and it is still here. RTC does not really scale for a large integrated environment. I have been waiting for these views to be available…

Peter Hack: Rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated :-). Competitors have been making that false claim for many years and Rational has not be clear about how important CC is and why we have multiple SCM systems. We’ve been consistently delivering improvements in usability (ex. the ClearTeam Explorer in V8.0.0), performance (ex. Web view load, UCM, and evil-twin detection in V8.0.0), security (ex. ACLs in V8.0.1), etc. over the past few years, many of which are substantial improvements to CC that required a significant engineering investment. We look for ways to re-invent CC for evolving market needs (ex. automatic views, which improve usability, performance, AND security with a uniquely powerful WAN client. Automatic views also help address requests from customers who are deploying CC servers in Cloud environments). ClearCase will remain Rational’s most flexible, most scalable, most powerful SCM system.

Question #5: The Automatic view vs Locked machines: we have more and more cases where users are not allowed Local Admin. In short the Automatic view will allow “”not admin account”” to load data. How the user is recognized as “valid”? LDAP?

Peter Hack:Automatic views depend on two identities (which may be the same, based on the specifics of the deployment). The first identity is the operating system identity on the CCRC client machine. The rview_agent process runs as that user and all files copied to the client machine (or created on that client machine) for that view are owned and only accessible to the OS identity of that user. No administrative or elevated privileges are needed on the CCRC client machine (except when installing CCRC). The second identity is the OS identity of the user on the CCRC WAN Server machine (which is probably part of a corporate identity system). The user must supply that username and password when logging in to the CCRC WAN Server (which is required to access any of the VOBS). That second identity does not have to have any relationship to the identity used on the CCRC client machine.

Question #6: I wonder what happens if a user has 2 views but need 2 different versions of the same file

Peter Hack: Automatic views create unique pathnames in the shared cleartext cache for each version. If there are two versions of the same element needed by different views, there will be one file in the shared cleartext cache for each. However, two views that access the same version of an element will automatically share the single copy of that version.

Question #7: Would it make sense to have a ClearCase cache on a Network drive for Automatic views

Peter Hack: We don’t intend to restrict where the shared cleartext cache is placed. We expect most users will create it on one of their local disks. However, if they choose a remotely mounted share, we won’t prevent that. It may impact performance but it depends on the performance of the network drive.

Question #8: Looking to see the features in 8.0.1 vs our current 7.1.2.4

Peter Hack: V8.0 introduced some significant improvements including ClearTeam Explorer support for dynamic views, improved performance, a new VOB DB schema that adds features such as built-in evil-twin detection and prevention and much more. V8.0.1 builds on the new schema introduced in V8.0.0 and adds support for ACLs (Access Control Lists) on elements and the VOB object to provide fine-grained role-based access control. You might watch the following: http://youtu.be/RKAzry6HCMs

Question #9: Peter had talked about using a squid proxy to cache files when using Automatic views over a WAN.  Would it make sense to have a ClearCase cache on a Network drive for Automatic views that is shared by multiple users? This way you wouldn’t have to deploy and maintain an extra piece of software.

Peter Hack: One of the top priorities of automatic views is to provide a highly secure solution.  Part of the security solution for automatic views is that all files managed by the automatic views (i.e. in the view storage directory as well as the shared cleartext cache) are protected such that only the owner of the view has access to the files (ex. on Unix, permissions would be ‘- r
– –   – – –   – – -‘).  This makes it impossible to share a cleartext cache across multiple users.  We have certainly thought about relaxing this
restriction but have so far decided against it because it would reduce security and place a greater deployment burden on administrators (automatic views would have to deal with identity management, client authentication, authorization mechanisms, etc.).