Teamstudio Brings Domino Version Control to iSeries
November 15, 2005 Alex Woodie
Regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA are spurring companies to lock down their IT environments in a variety of ways, including controls on development processes. Until now, most of the change management focus has been on so-called “traditional” environments, to the detriment of Lotus Notes and Domino. But that is starting to change, according to Domino experts at Teamstudio, which last week unveiled new support for OS/400- and AIX-based Domino servers with its two tools for managing changes to Domino databases, Snapper and CIAO!
Snapper and CIAO! are two components of Teamstudio Edition 22, a collection of nine client- and server-side utilities that provide Notes and Domino developers with a variety of useful functions for designing, programming, maintaining, and fixing their applications. Up until this time, none of the server-based tools, such as the CIAO! version management system or the Snapper roll-back function, supported Domino running on iSeries servers, although all of the client-based tools did support iSeries, in addition to every other server operating system supported by Domino.
That’s why the releases CIAO! Server Edition version 2.35 and Teamstudio Snapper Server Edition version 1.25 are significant: It is the first time Teamstudio has ported an application to OS/400. These are the only two Teamstudio products to support OS/400 directly.
It was important for Teamstudio to port CIAO! to OS/400 because of the mission-critical nature of many Domino applications running on iSeries, and the need for companies to document changes made to these applications for the purpose of regulatory compliance, says Craig Schumann, software engineer and lead developer at Boston-based Teamstudio. “People focus on the other areas of IT probably because it’s better defined. Then the auditor comes down to the Notes team, and says, ‘Everybody else can get under control, now you better get under control,” he says. “SOX has scared a lot of people.”
It would be a mistake to overlook the central role that Domino plays in some large organizations, including providing a foundation for CRM systems, generating invoices, managing financial data, and running issue-tracking systems, in addition to less-critical functions, such as serving e-mail or Web sites. “There’s a lot of pressure on IT departments to sharpen up, and that’s what we’re all about,” says Mark Dixon, Teamstudio’s chief technology officer. “Let’s bring the best practices lessons that have been learned in more traditional software development environments to Domino. There’s no excuse not to use those.”
While companies can use practically any version control system on the market to provide some control over Domino development and help coordinate Domino developers, there are very few version control systems developed specifically for Domino and that address the idiosyncrasies of the platform, and can get the most out of it, Schumann says.
For example, developers could use the popular open-source CVS system or one of IBM‘s Rational tools to prevent more than one developer from simultaneously checking out the database. “But usually you have multiple developers accessing different parts of the database. With CIAO! a developer can check out a form in a view, and another developer can take out another form in a view,” Schumann says.
Besides CIAO!, which was Teamstudio’s first product in 1996 and is still its most popular product, there really aren’t any other alternatives for this type of software, Schumann says. “Change control and version control is really non-existent in the Notes environment,” he says, adding that he doubts IBM will address this requirement, which suits Teamstudio just fine.
Snapper is another server-based tool designed to help Domino developers write cleaner code and have fewer mistakes make it into production. The product takes a snapshot of a database before a developer performs a save. If subsequent changes break the database or are otherwise unwanted, the developer can rollback to the snapshot logged by Snapper, and voila! The program goes back to its former state.
In some ways, Snapper and CIAO! are similar tools in that they both provide a safety net to keep developers from screwing stuff up. But because Snapper is used continuously, it provides more granularity than CIAO!, with multiple daily restore points compared to a couple of weekly synchronizations typically performed with CIAO!, Schumann says.
The new releases of CIAO! and Snapper are included in Teamstudio Edition 22, a new release of a nine-part suite of tools for Notes and Domino developers that Teamstudio announced last week. In addition to the new support for OS/400 in CIAO! and Snapper, each of the utilities in Teamstudio Edition 22 now offers support for Notes Domino 7, which was unveiled in late August.
In addition to CIAO! and Snapper, the tools that make up Teamstudio Edition 22 include:
* Analyzer, a database design analysis tool handy for testing or debugging apps
* Configurator, a tool for searching and replacing almost any text in the design of a database application, or in the documents stored in a database application
* Delta, which tells developers the differences between any two databases (also works with CIAO! to show the differences between two versions of a design note)
* Design Manager, a tool for enabling developers to control difficult aspects of an application’s design, and provides the capability to build, share, and manage libraries of reusable design elements
* Profiler, which helps developers identify performance bottlenecks in applications, and helps them investigate poorly executing LotusScript
* Resolver, a tool for fixing replication and save conflicts within database documents
* Validator, for helping developers identify the areas of an application that no longer function correctly, and is most often used after maintenance or design changes have been made to an application
Pricing for Teamstudio Edition 22’s server-based tools, including CIAO! Server Edition and Teamstudio Snapper Server Edition, range from $1,500 to $8,000, while pricing for the client-side tools (which includes the seven tools listed above), range from $500 to $1,000. The software is available immediately. Go to www.teamstudio.com for more information.