DevPartner Studio helps root out problems early, but learning curve is high.
If Microsoft Corp.s Visual Studio .Net doesnt already give a developer enough knobs to turn and buttons to push, Compuware Corp.s DevPartner Studio Professional Edition 7.1 should fill the bill nicely with its extensive array of coding quality assurance aids that are aimed at the new opportunitiesand challengesof the .Net platform.
DevPartner Studio Professional Edition 7.1
Integrating smoothly into Microsofts Visual Studio .Net 2003, Compuwares
tools are capable but often not obvious in function. For more information
on DevPartner Studio Professional Edition 7.1, which lists for $1,495, click here.
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
PRO: Memory analysis aids are of great value to .Net-focused developers; graphical code analysis aids and profile comparisons speed identification of development issues.
CON: Limited to use within Microsoft tool environment; tests can be
complex to set up and run.
EVALUATION SHORT LIST
Borland C# Builder Architect
Released this fall at $1,495, the product lives up to the Compuware tradition of complete integration into the Microsoft development environment. We admit to holding our breath during installation. VS .Net is so hellaciously complex that adding yet another suite of more than mildly invasive tools seems a lot like adding another lobe to a persons brain, with the patient awake during the process. We were impressed, however, by the results. DevPartner menus, help and tool icons simply appeared in the proper places as if they had been there all along.
Even so, developers should not expect to understand immediately what they see. The DevPartner Studio Quick Reference "card" is 28 full pages of tool bar descriptions, command-line options, report and graph taxonomies, and keyboard shortcut lists. None of this is especially hard to learn, but there are steps that need to be performed in sequence to enable functions such as memory analysis and to yield useful data from test runs. Indeed, developers will get much more from this package if they dedicate some time to mastering its procedures.
When experienced C++ developers make the move to .Net, that frameworks active role in managing memory is probably among the biggest paradigm shifts. These developers will get particular benefit from the memory analysis features introduced in this release of DevPartner Studio, especially the temporary object analysis that tracks object allocations based on size and on time before resource recovery.
Also important to .Net development is a good understanding of the calling relationships among application components, which DevPartner aided us in examining with diagrams that we could navigate to get additional performance and calling information.
When applications yield disappointing performance, its often the case that a single, often-used function or a single coding decision is creating most of the problem. We found DevPartners tools and displays well-suited to the task of rooting out those problem areas, and we especially appreciated the performance profile comparison tools that let us quickly determine the effects of changes as we made them.
Working in distributed environments that include remote computing resources with variable response times, its essential for developers to take advantage of multithreaded approaches to maintain perceived performance in interactive tasks. DevPartner Studio 7.1 gives developers valuable help in identifying the tricky problems that can come with multithreaded designs, detecting and warning of possible deadlocks when threads are waiting for one another or when contention for resources leaves multiple threads unable to proceed. Discuss this in the eWEEK forum.
Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.