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Review: Merant Professional 8.0

Merant Professional 8.0
starting at $1399 per named user
Merant, Inc.
Hillsboro, Oregon
(503) 645-1150
www.merant.com

This is the software previously known as PVCS, with a few tools brought together into a suite and rebranded. Merant is well known in the areas of software configuration management and process management. If you've got a bunch of developers and QA people and managers all working together to maintain a suite of applications, you'll probably want to take a look at their products.

What you'll find here is a number of products that all work together. Merant Tracker handles bug and feature tracking, with workflow and notification processes built in. Users of your applications can enter issues directly from a Web page, and they'll automatically make their way through managers, developers, and testers.

When the developer is ready to tackle a bug, they'll be using Merant Version Manager, the software configuration management piece. This one has been overhauled extensively, with a new focus on distributed architecture for serious scalability, as well as both named and concurrent user licensing. You'll also find tight integration with Visual Studio .NET here; a developer can do most of their work from e-mail and VS .NET, without ever opening a dedicated Version Manager user interface.

For complex builds, there's a new tool, Merant Build. This is actually an OEM'd version of Catalyst's OpenMake tool, which is designed to support both local and remote builds as well as the automatic construction of build rules for complex software. You'll find cross-platform and cross-language here.

When builds are done, Merant Tracker will push them along to the QA team. There's also a structured deployment piece that allows quickly rolling out pieces of fixed software from staging to final servers. This is Merant Mover,, which is designed to automate post-build deployment tasks. You can move files between multiple servers with pre- and post-move scripting and full auditing, plus e-mail notifications. Many build tools can do some of this, but Mover offers a lot more sophistication than the typical build tool.

One nice thing about the Merant tools is that they don't force a particular style of working; there are Web, command-line, and GUI interfaces for most everything, as well as IDE integration. So whether you're a sophisticated developer or an entry-level tester, you can probably find a way of working with this suite of products that makes sense. For those trying to coordinate the work of teams on a large, complex product, a set of tools such as this is indispenable.

About the Author

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.

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