Looks at IBM Rational XDE Developer .NET Edition v2003.06 and Compuware DriverStudio
IBM Rational XDE Developer .NET Edition v2003.06
Cost: $3,594 (w/1 yr. support/service)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Visual Studio .NET is a complex and far-reaching design environment. But it
focuses just on helping you build code effectively. Rational XDE Developer makes
the development environment more complex by bringing modeling into the picture.
With Rational XDE, you continue to develop software inside the Visual Studio
.NET shell, but you can also design code with UML diagrams.
Key to making this work is forward- and reverse-engineering support, as well
as model-to-code synchronization. You can make a change to your code, and XDE
will update your model -- or vice versa. If you already have a project full
of code, bringing it into the XDE world is as simple as loading your project
and telling it to generate the model. Databases can also be engineered in both
By tying in with other IBM Rational products, XDE is designed to be part of
an overall software process running from requirements management to build and
change management. And this version's support for your pattern repositories
lets you create reusable software assets and share them across the enterprise.
Repositories can be accessed locally or over the Web.
This version also supports trace sequence diagrams. You can tell it that you
want it to graphically monitor what is going on, and XDE builds a sequence diagram
as the classes in your app interact in real time. The sequence diagrams can
be filtered to let you concentrate on the interactions you are interested in,
making them a good debugging and documentation tool.
All this power comes at the cost of some complexity. You will really want to
know UML before you dive into using XDE, and you should allow enough time to
explore the XDE features. For small projects, this could be overkill. But once
you cannot hold all the classes in your app and their interactions in your head
at once, some sort of symbolic documentation tool is a necessity. XDE can easily
fill that spot and grow with you into an overall development helper for complex
Drive carefully: A review of DriverStudio 3.0
Rating: 5 out of 5
It is refreshing to open a software box and find it filled with paper manuals.
But then, device driver development is one of the more complex and specialized
parts of writing Windows software, and DriverStudio offers a breadth of tools
DriverStudio integrates Visual Studio with the DDK so you can use a modern
IDE to develop device drivers instead of writing code in Notepad. You also get
class libraries and wizards to generate the shell of your driver quickly. The
manuals include documentation of the class library and the Windows Driver Module.
Then there is DriverWorkbench, a set of testing and debugging tools for device
drivers. BoundsChecker catches a host of API errors. TrueTime is a performance
analysis tool, and TrueCoverage is a code coverage analysis tool. Various other
tools load, unload and install drivers, take a system snapshot and display debug
Finally, you get two high-end debuggers. SoftICE is a traditional single-machine
debugger that seizes control of the entire machine when you activate it. Visual
SoftICE, in contrast, is a dual-machine debugger. A small core of code runs
on the machine with the driver you are debugging, and the Visual SoftICE user
interface runs on a second computer. Each debugger has its own strength (SoftICE
does not insert any code that might confound a network driver, while Visual
SoftICE lets you see what is happening inside a failing display driver). Between
them, you can debug on any system.
If you have enough hardware, you will want to install DriverStudio in a distributed
setting, with the core monitoring components and drivers on a target machine
and the IDE on a host machine. If you do not, you can put everything on one
computer. If you are really rich, a single host can connect to multiple targets.
DriverStudio is not for everyone. But if you are trying to do device driver
development, you need to invest in a solid debugger. You will find that here,
along with plenty of other components to make your life easier.
Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.