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Methods & Tools - News, Facts & Comments Edition - October 2001

*** Products ************************************************************

* Defect tracking tools on the Web

Sometimes (very rarely... :-]), the good programmers that we are make some mistakes. We call them bugs ... or features if you are a salesman. To keep track of them, software tools exist. Here are some Web sites where you will find free or trial version of bug tracking tools:

  • - BUGTrack Web based 2 weeks trial
  • - web site, free until 200 issues
  • - Bugzilla. free, 10M
  • - BugCollector Pro, free trial version, 15.3M
  • - BugCracker, version 1.29 trial, 5.80 M
  • - Buggy, 4.3M
  • - BugLink, 30 days trial, 1.1M
  • - GNATS free linux tool
  • - Frondesk free
  • - Jitterbug free Unix/Linux tool
  • - NeumaCM trial version 7M
  • - OpenTrack free tool 690K
  • - Perfect Tracker, trial version, 2.3M
  • - PVCS, 30 days trial version
  • - Razor, trial version
  • - SWB Tracker, trial version, 7.8M
  • - Team Tracker, trial version, 6.1M
  • - TestTrack Pro 4, 30 days trial, Windows 9M Linux/Solaris 3M
  • - Visual Bugz!, trial version, 15M
  • - Visual Intercept, trial version, 34M
  • - ZeroDefect, trial version, 24M
  • - Bugbase 2000, trial version, 4.8M
  • - Team Remote Debugger 2001, 30 days trial, 2.9M

*** Companies ***********************************************************

* Hewlett-Packard merges with Compaq

Both companies announced last month their intention to combine their operations. After having searched to improve its service sector with the acquisition of a consulting company (the failed deal to acquire part of Price Waterhouse Coopers for instance), HP has found another way with Compaq. This company performed the same road when it acquired Digital Equipment. In addition to the 15'000 job cuts announced by the two companies, 15'000 new cuts will be made as a result of the merger. The combined company should ultimately save $2.5 billion annually through operational synergies. The merger is scheduled to be effective in the first half of 2002.

In the short term, it is expected that the turbulences caused by the merger of two "alien" corporate cultures will be beneficial for the competitors. Dell and Sun are mentioned to be the best positioned to profit from the situation. In the long term, the new Hewlett-Packard should be positioned as a strong global competitor in IT services, the equal of IBM.

* XP Without Java

Microsoft has announced that XP, the next version of its Windows operating system, will be delivered without a Java Virtual Machine (JVM). A JVM is a software that allows to run Java programs. Some vendors, like Dell, will bundle a JVM with the computers they sell, others, like Compaq, will not put a JVM in their products. In this case, the customer will have to download a version of this program from a Web site. Many of them are providing JVM for free.

This decision comes after a lawsuit where Microsoft was accused by Sun, the owner of the Java standards, of having developed a Java version not compatible with the standards. Microsoft was blocked in the development of its J++ product. After an agreement was reached between the two companies, Microsoft announced its proprietary strategy for Internet with the .NET language. This could explain why the XP release will try to battle against Java. In my opinion, this is for the moment a worthless combat as I see Java used by many companies that are conducting Web-based systems development. In the long term, like Internet Explorer crunched Netscape Navigator, we will have to see if the widespread diffusion of the .NET environment on Microsoft-dominated client platforms can change the preferred choices for developing distributed logic.

*** Numbers *************************************************************

* Benefits of Software Risk Management

A study was conducted on the topic by the KLCI Research Group during the second quarter of 2001. More than 260 software organisations worldwide participated to this study and 97% of the participants have currently procedures to identify and assess risk. Here are what the participants say about the benefits of software risk management practices.

  • Anticipate/avoid problems 80%
  • Prevent surprises 60%
  • Meet customer commitments 47%
  • Improve Ability to Negotiate 47%
  • Less Schedule Slips 43%
  • Fewer Cost Overruns 35%
  • None  6%

To download the complete report, goto

*** In Other's Words ****************************************************

* We are all different!

"Not too long ago, I was chatting with a vice president of a major shrinkwrapped software vendor. He described me a new concept the firm has invented, something that was working extremely well. I think he called it a bug council: a regular meeting where requests for changes and remaining known defects were reviewed; their impacts discussed; decisions made on what to add, fix, or leave; and cross-functional commitments made to take action.
I smiled and asked, 'What if I had told you that we have been using the same process you just 'discovered' for 15 years, except we call it a configuration control board. How would you have reacted?'
'Oh,' he said, 'I probably would have just ignored you!'
I asked again, eager to learn and ready to offer assistance: 'How could I share any of my 15 years of experience with you, so your organization could learn from the rest of industry and gain benefits faster than having to invent these things for yourselves?
The response was a weak 'I don't know' and a blank stare.
And so finally I asked: 'Are you aware of the Capability Maturity Model for Software or other software development guidelines that might provide some additional perspectives?'
'Yes,' he said, 'but none of that stuff applies to us; we are very different.'"
Source: "Essence of the Capability Maturity Model", Judy Bamberger, IEEE Software, June 1997.

We like to be different from others, but we are mostly only making the same mistakes... :-]

* Hype & Reality

Hype: "Forrester says this market is going to be HUGE. And if we can get only 1 percent of that, we'll be a success" (Also known as Chinese Metrics - you will make a widget for the Chinese population and will be successful if only 1 percent of the Chinese buy your product).
Reality: If it were that easy, we'd all retire.

Hype: Our products are based on standards, but our competitors' products aren't.
Reality: Every company wants something proprietary to lock customers into their product.

Hype: Our 50 patents in the field will protect us from our competitors.
Reality: If it is a manufacturing process patent, better keep it as a trade secret. If it's a technology patent, there will be 100 ways to design around it.

Hype: Large numbers of customers are testing our prototypes, making us confident of our revenue projections.
Reality: Customers test everything to get freebies pilots and to prove to their bosses that they have really screened the market.

Some additional definitions:

Solution: we're not sure what is it's either
End-to-end solution provider: don't you dare buy our competitor's products
Best of breed: our developers couldn't write enough source code
Time to market: getting out there and selling your products
Accelerate your business processes: work faster so you can be even more stressed out than you are now
Real-time: as opposed to fake time
Award-winning: what are trade associations for?
Infrastructure software: even the IT guys don't understand what it does!

Source: "The Bullshit Pitch" and "Hype-jargon Hit List", Tornado Insider, August 2001

Try some of this stuff with the next sales/marketing guy you will meet!

*** Conferences *********************************************************

Given the recent events in New York, USA, Sinan Si Alhir (a regular contributor to the Methods & Tools newsletter) has freely volunteered to deliver two seminars in association with the "Thirteenth Week - On-line Seminars for the September 11th Fund" to raise funds to benefit the victims []. The seminars are []:

* The Unified Modeling Language (UML) (Sinan Si Alhir)
- December 15, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM EST

* The Unified Process (UP) (Sinan Si Alhir)
- December 15 - 1:00 PM -2:30 PM EST

Seminars on other interesting software engineering topics (eXtreme Programming, Project Management, XML, JAVA, etc.) will also be presented. You will find a complete listing at

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