Dimensions CM 14 Reveals Change Visualization and Peer Reviews

Two of the most highly anticipated areas of new development for Dimensions CM 14 are change visualization and peer reviews. Taken as individual new capability areas, these features represent a massive stride forward for our flagship SCCM solution.  And when combined together, they will redefine the way Dimensions CM users think about parallel development and agile practices. In this two-part blog, we’ll talk about Change Visualization first and then follow up with a look at Peer Reviews.

Traditionally, Serena has excelled at providing control and insight into the development process for stakeholders, such as release managers, business analysts, auditors and quality assurance managers. With Dimensions CM 14, we wanted to bring similar value to every member of the development team.

An advanced implementation of changesets gives developers much greater visibility into changes and allows almost instant creation of projects, streams and baselines. Changesets give developers the freedom to manage and merge changes safely. They also provide release managers with the control and visibility they require to create stable releases.

Developers often need to know what changed where and why in order to diagnose a problem or discover why some functionality is broken or has changed.  The Changeset View does just that.  It not only shows which team members are delivering changes to which features and branches of code but it also gives further insight into the “health” of those changes (did they build and pass their unit tests, who performed the peer review of the change, did it pass peer review and what was checked during the review etc.)

We wanted to add features that would make a developer’s daily life easier, rather than traditional change and configuration management features which are often viewed as “getting in the way” of the developer’s work.

Dimensions CM 14 introduces an innovative graphical view of change history and streams across multiple releases. This gives developers and release managers a visual understanding of what changes are being worked on, where, and why. Tight coupling with continuous integration tools, such as Jenkins, provides feedback on the health of changes and real time indication of release readiness based on build and test status. These results are linked to the changesets in CM and enable you to make decisions based on the quality of the builds. Now you can monitor all your streams of development and changesets at a glance. Without switching tools you can easily review the health of your changes ahead of further development or release activities.

The implementation of changesets, together with Change Visualization, significantly improves development team performance, considerably simplifies the management of  stream-based development, and provides actionable insight into the health of each development or release stream.

Look out for more from Serena in this area – the Changeset Graph is just the first step! We will be adding further information about changes, their dependencies and their health/release readiness.  Another area we’re investigating is improving the process and visibility of branching by making it easier to start a new branch of development, eg. provisioning the required tools and environment. Even further out, we’d like to explore opportunities to simplify and automate the merging of branches.

Now We’ll look at how peer reviews will help developers gain confidence in the release readiness of their work and be empowered to share best practices between peers.

With a focus on the developer experience in Dimensions CM 14, Serena believes that Peer Reviews can unlock the potential of team members to share their learning and encourage teamwork, without becoming a hindrance and burden to getting actual work done.  We find that many organizations want to implement peer review, but struggle to find a good way to start. By streamlining this process within Dimensions CM we are making it accessible to development teams inside the tools that they use every day, making it easy for organizations to adopt this development best practice.

The integrated Peer Review feature optimizes your code review process, improves team collaboration and drives development efficiency and quality. Peer reviews are automatically created and assigned to the right developers, enabling efficient communication and collaboration using a configurable workflow. Reviewers are provided with a checklist to ensure that coding standards and regulatory compliance are achieved. CM’s approach to peer review emphasizes both collaborative team work and the promotion of your development best practices.

Peer Review is often provided by a tool that is separate from your change and configuration management software, leading to multiple tools/interfaces that your developers need to use.  With the introduction of collaborative peer review as an integrated value added feature contained within Dimensions CM, we can seamlessly integrate peer reviews with the rest of the development process.  When making decisions about the release readiness of code, access to peer review status within the IDE gives developers confidence as they move code through the development process.

We wanted to create a Peer Review user interface that was modern and social, making it easy for reviewers to exchange comments including screenshots, links, lists etc.  But we also wanted to provide a high degree of process and control.  So the rules around when a review can complete are highly configurable; a full audit trail is recorded and we even provide a review checklist of standards and compliance items to be completed during the review.  This focus on process allows us to meet the needs of customers working in highly-regulated or lightweight environments in an accessible way.

Ready to get started? Contact us to learn more.

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