Tool Developers Set Sights on Making Agile Real

As adoption of agile development methodologies continues to gradually catch on with mainstream enterprise development teams, agile development tool makers have begun to broaden their offerings to serve developers who are new to agile, as well as experts.

As adoption of agile development methodologies continues to gradually catch on with mainstream enterprise development teams, providers of agile development solutions have begun to broaden their offerings to enable both developers who are new to agile, as well as experts.

At the Agile 2009 Conference that runs August 24-28 in Chicago, vendors such as OutSystems, Rally Software, and Danube Technologies, among others are announcing new products or new versions of existing ones. A key theme of the conference is "Making Agile Real."

OutSystems, a provider of agile software development tools, has announced a new, free Agile Platform Community Edition of its solution to give developers an easy way to create web business applications and use agile techniques without any vendor lock-in, the company said.

OutSystems said its Agile Platform Community Edition is a full version of the company's Agile Platform that can be deployed into production for personal use or by small businesses with up to five concurrent end-users. OutSystems announced its new release at the Agile 2009 Conference on August 24.

"The Agile Platform offers developers an end to end solution for the delivery of web business applications that overcomes the development, delivery and change issues faced by enterprise IT shops when trying to apply agile methods," said Mike Jones, vice president of marketing at OutSystems. "We anticipate that the Community Edition will lead to a grass roots growth in loyal users of the Agile Platform and eventually new customers."

OutSystems' Agile Platform is a unified solution, based on agile methodologies, that addresses the full life cycle of delivering and managing web applications. It can be used to integrate existing systems, compose and automatically deploy new applications, manage them centrally and drive change during their entire lifecycle, the company said

The new community edition provides a small download footprint, simple installation process, a getting started guide and sample applications. OutSystems also is making available a series of getting started tutorials to explore the Agile Platform's capabilities for delivering rich internet applications.

Rally Software, a producer of agile application lifecycle management (ALM) software is set to announce the third generation of its Agile ALM system, Rally Release 2009.4.

The new Rally technology features an ALM data warehouse in the cloud, Rally officials said.

"Executives need to know which big features to invest in, when they will be delivered and how projects are tracking to budget," said Zach Nies, vice president of products at Rally. "At the same time, development teams have to make hundreds of decisions for every release. Rally's ALM data warehouse will provide decision support tools to instantly view status across distributed teams, analyze the root cause of problems, and better forecast feature delivery."

Rally's ALM data warehouse will enable custom reporting, by allowing organizations to build the custom roll-up and drill-down reports required to deploy often scarce resources toward opportunities with the biggest returns. And because Rally's new analytical database is delivered as a Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) solution it requires no customer infrastructure or costs to use and it is updated in near-real-time.

In addition, Rally's new customizable user interface includes social media tools to improve collaboration among distributed teams. It also incorporates role-based dashboards to filter the data available throughout the development lifecycle to only what each role needs be a productive team member.

"A customizable user interface enables users to tailor their experience to fit their role responsibilities and preferred style of working. However, too many customization options can become overwhelming for users," said Mike Gualtieri, senior analyst at Forrester Research, in a statement. "The solution is to provide several pre-tweaked user interface options based upon the user's role responsibilities and then let them tune that user interface to suit their personal style of working. The result: users will be happier, more efficient and the entire team will be more productive."

New features in Rally Release 2009.4 and upcoming Q4 2009 releases include the new report designer, role-based dashboards, a recent activity stream, time tracking and faster performance. In addition, Rally delivers a Kanban mashup capability to support the Kanban method of agile development. The Kanban mashup gives teams the option of managing pull-based, Lean software development projects alongside other iterative and time-boxed projects.

Meanwhile, for Scrum developers, Danube Technologies, a provider of project management tools and training for the Scrum methodology of agile software development, has released its new ScrumWorks Pro 4 project management tool.

The Danube product, initially launched on August 3, enables large development organizations to scale Scrum deployments across the enterprise.

"Agile 2009 is the premier event for the entire agile community and ScrumWorks Pro 4 represents an additional proof point on the continued maturity of Scrum practices in the enterprise," said Laszlo Szalvay, co-founder and CEO at Danube. "We are excited to officially introduce ScrumWorks 4 directly to the agile community in Chicago, and look forward to gaining continued feedback from hands-on practitioners that will help us continuously improve our products."

Moreover, Danube officials said as Scrum continues to gain popularity among developers and managers, the framework which was originally conceived for use with small, co-located teams is being scaled to accommodate Scrum-of-Scrum installations of thousands of users. However, as many large organizations have attempted to translate the benefits of small team Scrum to enterprise-level installations, the available Scrum and agile tools lacked functionality powerful enough to accurately model such complex development, the company said.

ScrumWorks Pro 4 addresses the needs of larger development organizations by providing an intuitive way to track cross-product development at the program level.