Tasktop Grows with Eclipse Mylyn

Eclipse Mylyn 3.4 , the latest version of the open-source framework for integrating task and application lifecycle management (ALM) tools with the Eclipse IDE, was aboard the annual Eclipse release train this week. Mylyn's creator Mik Kersten, who founded Tasktop Technologies to develop commercial products around Mylyn, is gushing over the release.

"Since the Galileo release (last year's release train), Mylyn has become the most-used UI by developers for application lifecycle management," he said. "We're talking a million downloads a month, which is 80 percent of Eclipse downloads by number in all but one of the Eclipse distributions!"

The success of Mylyn is, of course, good news for Tasktop, which today released the 1.7 version of its flagship Tasktop Pro Mylyn-based ALM integration suite. This version comes with new integration connectors to leading ALM platforms, including IBM Rational Team Concert and ClearQuest, ScrumWorks Pro and Bugzilla, as well as updated connectors for Rally and JIRA. It also comes with enhancements for Windows 7, integration with Twitter for social media collaboration and an easy installation of the recently released a connector for Perforce.

Mylyn is a "task-focused interface" designed to reduce the information overload developers often face. It does this by extending the GUI metaphor and showing only a subset of the content that is relevant to the task-at-hand. The result for developers is less time spent searching for information and more time coding.

"Mylyn has a way of dealing with unstructured text that is very popular among developers," said Michael Coté, industry analyst at RedMonk, in an earlier interview. "It has a way of cross-linking among your source code, your bug-tracking system -- all of this stuff that developers and development managers use to track a project in the actual code itself. It provides a lot of meta-information tracking around the development process that's extremely helpful."

The pain point Mylyn addresses, Kersten explained, is the lack of integration among the leading ALM tools, and the lack of support for in-house and legacy systems. "We store all the state that's needed to work in this task-focused way and make the agile tools be the hub of developer communications," he said. "All while integrating with the existing servers."

"There's an Agile tool disconnect," Kersten added. "There's a lack of traceability between the Agile planning tools and what's happening with developers in the trenches. And it's really hurting the ROI of agile. We're putting the tools into the developers' hands, making it effortless for them to organize their work around tasks and automatically present the most relevant source code and project management information associated with each task. The end result is that developers no longer have to waste time repeatedly searching and scrolling for the information they need to write code, since the IDE shows only the information relevant to the task at hand."

Earlier this year, the Eclipse Mylyn project was divided into sub-projects with the aim of accelerating its evolution. The list of sub-projects includes: "Tasks," which focuses on integrating task and change management; "Context," which looks at context management and task focus; "SCM," which concentrates on integrating source code management; "Build," which works on integrating build, release, and continuous integration; "Review" for collaborative code review; "Docs," which covers documentation requirements; and "Commons," for Rich client, REST, and WS utilities.

Each sub-project is developing a reference implementation, Kersten said: Bugzilla and Trac for "Task;" JDT and CDT for "Context;" CVS and EGit for "SCM;" Hudson for "Build;" and WikiText for "Docs." Leading and contributing to these projects is a lineup of top Agile vendors, which currently includes: Rally Software ("Tasks"), Cloudsmith ("Builds"), Perforce ("SCM"), and INSO ("Review.")

A free Tasktop Pro trial is available now for download from the Tasktop Web site. The free Mylyn 3.4 open source tool is available for download with community support and integrations for Bugzilla and Trac on the Web site.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].