Review: Telelogic SYNERGY

SYNERGY/CM 6.3 (starting at $1500/user) and SYNERGY/Change 4.3 (starting at $1079/user)
Irvine, California
(949) 830-8022

SYNERGY is a high-end set of applications for change management and configuration management (the latter including traditional source code control management and a whole lot more). I installed their evaluation version recently and tried it out, and was favorably impressed by some of the innovations that I saw here. Though I hadn't run across Telelogic before, I suspect that's just because I don't play in the big corporate world these days; they've got a serious history and big customer list behind them.

SYNERGY/Change is the change management system, which runs in your Web browser (and integrates with the other pieces here). This gives you the ability to enter new requests into the system (bugs to fix, features to add, and so on), assign them, and track their progress. It works quickly and is thoroughly configurable; there seems to have been a lot of attention paid to detail here.

SYNERGY/CM takes over when it's time to do the actual work. You'll find quite a bit of functionality wrapped in this package: workflow management, workspaces, release and build management, and so on. And, of course, there's task-based configuration management to keep track of when things are ready to check in and build (together with some intelligent integrity checking to make sure that what's getting checked in and built is reasonably sane in terms of the defined tasks).

One innovation I really like here is ActiveCM. That's their name for a completely transparent configuration management system, and it's a radical rethinking. Traditionally, of course, you check files out for a particular task, work on them, and check them back in (and indeed, SYNERGY/CM supports this style of work as well). But ActiveCM takes a different route: tell it what task you'll be working on (presumably input via SYNERGY/Change), tell it where on your hard drive you'll be working - and that's it! As you edit, create, rename, delete, and otherwise work with files, ActiveCM does the right thing in the backend CM system. It's a marvelous way to make SYNERGY/CM compatible with any IDE you care to use, so long as it stores source code in actual files, and it seems to work quite well.

There are too many other features in this set of packages to even list here, let alone discuss in any detail. You'll find user interfaces to make tracking your to-do list and reporting task status lightning fast. You'll find a distributed change management system that links together multiple repositories via replication, even over slow links (and even between the Windows and Unix versions of the product); this is a great way to manage a distributed or global development team. You'll get the ability to apply versioning to components and applications as well as files, and fine-grained tracking of what changed in any given release. And you get a workflow management system flexible enough to accomodate anything from an agile approach to something way up the CMM maturity scale.

Obviously, SYNERGY isn't going to replace Visual SourceSafe for the developer who manages a few dozen files on a single project with one or two contributors. But if you're dealing with more substantial requirements, and want to use a system that was thought out with the developer in mind, take a look. You can arrange for an evaluation CD from the comapny's Web site.

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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