Rational bolsters project management tools

Rational Software has announced an update to its Rational Suite v2002, plus two project management tools to monitor the progress...

Rational Software has announced an update to its Rational Suite v2002, plus two project management tools to monitor the progress of application development.

Rational Suite v2002 comprises 15 products, including the company's flagship Rational Rose application development tool. The company claims that more than 100 enhancements have been added to the latest version of the suite.

One of the new add-ons is ProjectConsole, which gathers metrics across the entire suite. It uses 135 report templates of development metrics - such as defect discovery and requirement tracking - and creates a project-based Web site which uses server-based agents to retrieve data.

Rick Martelli, manager of integrated system development environment programs at Lockheed Martin Canada, said he has been evaluating ProjectConsole and intends to use it for a missile-jamming application that the group is developing.

"It provides a higher level of metrics in one graphical interface," said Martelli. "In the past, we had to purchase other products to do metric gathering, datawarehousing and extract that data to provide reports."

Concerns about project overruns due to changing requirements are pushing many organisations to take a closer look at how they manage development projects, said Jim Duggan, an analyst at Gartner Group. Documentation and reporting metrics are activities that many developers are loath to perform, so tools that address those needs are of great importance, he added.

"Software development is an art, but we're trying to put some science into it," said Dave Locke, Rational's director of product marketing.

The Rational Suite also includes Unified Process, a Web-based utility that outlines a set of best practices for developing software and is tied to Rational's Unified Modeling Language tool, which lets developers and analysts visualise and model system requirements before developing software applications. It also keeps track of changes during the development process.

"In the past, software projects never came in under budget," Martelli said. "The risk of going over budget was high because programmers add features that are not asked for, and they don't realise the impact that changing requirements would have on the overall project."

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