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Q&A with Tasktop CEO Mik Kersten on New Product Release - Tasktop Release 3.5

by Savita Pahuja on May 13, 2014 |

Tasktop released a new tool called Tasktop Sync 3.5 for agile at scale. Tasktop 3.5 connects the most popular Agile planning tools with the most widely used enterprise ALM tools. It allows organizations to add more flexibility to an ALM foundation designed for strong governance, creating a large-scale Agile. InfoQ spoke to Mik Kersten,CEO of Tasktop Technologies related to this.

InfoQ: Can you please tell us about Tasktop Sync 3.5?

Our goal with Tasktop Sync is to connect the entire application development and DevOps lifecycle. With Sync 3.0, we extended the Sync lifecycle bus to connect to help desk and ITSM systems, such as Service Now. With Sync 3.5, we extended our ecosystem to support all market leading Agile Planning tools and broadened our help desk support. Specifically, Sync 3.5 includes a certified ZenDesk integration and support for VersionOne®. It also updates Tasktop’s support for the latest versions of Atlassian JIRA Agile, CA Clarity Agile, HP ALM/Quality Center, IBM Rational Team Concert (RTC), Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS), Rally, ServiceNow and ThoughtWorks Mingle.

InfoQ: What are the primary features of this release?

One of the major new features in the Sync 3.5 release is Artifact Relationship Management. This functionality allows Sync 3.5 to not only synchronize lifecycle artifacts, but also hierarchies, relationships, and links between those artifacts, allowing for full traceability among requirements, user stories, defects, tickets, tests and code commits, even while using disparate, best-of-breed tools for each. The result: the developer has the information he needs, at his fingertips--whether she’s using a lightweight issue tracker or an Enterprise ALM tool. Note: achieving this level of federation took the collaboration of several PhDs and more than a year to create, as it has never been done before.

Integration Metrics, advanced capabilities for understanding the interchange of information among software development/delivery teams, is another important Sync 3.5 feature. Real-time and browser-based, Sync Integration Metrics provide actionable insight into the collaboration among teams, and the health of the ALM infrastructure.

InfoQ: What was the need of developing this product?

Tasktop customers face two major challenges: 1) They have multiple Agile planning tools in use, because various teams have adopted whatever tools seemed to fit their work, and 2) They have a pressing need for these tools to talk to other lifecycle management tools. In other words, they need to scale Agile practices, and scaling Agile means communication among stakeholders via the currency or language of their development artifacts including epics, stories, defects, trouble tickets and others. To complicate things further, these stakeholders include people within the customer organization as well as outsourced providers. Tasktop Sync allows these organizations to scale Agile practices across the entire software supply chain.

InfoQ: Please tell us about the functionality of the product. How does it work?

Tasktop Sync provides fully automated, enterprise-scale synchronization among the disparate tools used in software development organizations. This includes the development team, product management, business analysts, product owners, architects, testers, system administrators, project managers, scrum masters and help desk professionals. Tasktop Sync increases collaboration by synchronizing artifacts across ALM application boundaries. It tears down the tool silo around each functional discipline, while maintaining the existing tool infrastructure. Practitioners operate in their tool of choice while receiving continual updates from other systems. Application development and deployment is strengthened, and the investment in existing tools is reinforced.

Specifically, Sync acts as a DevOps integration bus. As customers want to integrate more and more of their systems, they simply add that system to the bus through a straightforward configuration process. This eliminates unwieldy point-to-point integrations and ineffective manual integration methods such as bulk transfer of data and manual re-entry.

InfoQ: What are the ALM tools supported by Tasktop sync 3.5?

Atlassian JIRA, IRA Service Desk, Borland StarTeam, Bugzilla, CA Clarity Agile, CA Clarity Requirements, CA Clarity PPM, HP ALM, HP Quality Center, IBM Rational,ClearQuest, IBMRational Requirements, Composer , IBM Rational DOORS , Next , Generation, IBM, Rational Requisite Pro, IBM Rational Team, Concert, Microsoft TFS, Rally, Serena SBM, ServiceNow, ThoughtWorks Mingle, VersionOne, Zendesk

InfoQ: You have conducted a webinar for this tool. Tell us about the webinar and its response.

The webinar was well attended by software delivery practitioners and management and sparked interest in Tasktop Sync. It is now available on-demand: https://tasktop.com/resources/videos/tasktop-sync-35-release-webinar#video

InfoQ: What is the difference between Tasktop Sync 3.5 and TasktopDev 3.5?

Both Tasktop solutions are about productivity and accessing ALM systems.

Tasktop Dev plugs into the developer’s IDE—Visual Studio or Eclipse (the developer’s tool of choice). When the developer is in that environment, Dev provides access to their various ALM systems in the IDE. With respect to the ALM integration capability, Tasktop Dev is integration on the client side.

Tasktop Sync is integration on the server-side. It connects ALM systems on the back-end. People on the software delivery team use their tool of choice, the client of their requirements management, test management, trouble ticketing (the dominant tool for their discipline), and Sync integrates the systems invisibly in the background. 

InfoQ: Please tell us about Mylyn 3.11 release and how is it related to TasktopDev 3.5?

Mylyn 3.11 includes some great new features. One often-requested feature is a Find button for the Task Editor. Mylyn’s across repository search function now includes impressive highlighting and additional capabilities that enable quick access to information about tasks,including tasks with dozens of comments. On the task context side, Breakpoints are now available in the task context (another often-requested feature) and the breakpoints immediately re-load when a practitioner switches between tasks. There are also some slick additions to our Gerrit and generic code review functionality, including a new Code Review dashboard.

With Tasktop Sync, TasktopDev and Eclipse Mylyn, we will continue on our mission of connecting the DevOps lifecycle, for developers and all other stakeholders involved. Stay tuned!

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