The Times They Are a-Changin’ ? Maybe Not

I will rather say that history repeats itself. By the way, this is a quote from Hegel and Marx added that first time was tragedy, and the second time farce. Yet this post is not about a Bob Dylan against Marx debate, but about a thought that came when, after following a conference presenting some of the IBM Rational products, I discovered the Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration initiative. OSLC defined itself as “a community effort to help software delivery teams by making it easier to use lifecycle tools in combination. The OSLC community is creating open, public descriptions of resources and interfaces for sharing the things that software delivery teams rely on, like change requests, test cases, defects, requirements and user stories.” I first thought that Rational Jazz, self-defined as “an open platform designed to support any industry participant who wants to improve the software lifecycle and break down walls between tools” would be the place for tool integration. Apparently building this platform was not enough to foster tool collaboration.

I was traveling back 20 year back in time when IBM already tried to combine multiple tools data in a single repository, an initiative called AD Cycle. The grails (without groovy) of having different vendors tools communicating has been since then attempted again by some other “standards” like CDIF (Common Data Interchange Format) or PCTE (Portacle Common Tool Environment). I am sure that you have all heard about these initiatives and that they are one of the key factors when you make a tool acquisition decision. Aren’t they?

One of the problems of these initiatives for uniting tools is that vendors mostly favor bilateral alliances and create integration with selected partners. However, the most important issue is that except for IBM, most of the industry players have a (very) short life expectancy. Most of them will disappear before the time needed to define and implement such standards. Anybody remember of Knowledgeware’s ADW, Index Technologies’ Excelerator or Arthur Andersen Method/1? If yes, it means that you have some gray hairs … and a good memory (let’s see the positive points). The current list of tool partners of OSLC is far from being impressive and the probabilities that this initiative will have the same fate than its predecessors are high.


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