What kind of consumer are you? Are you the kind who buys a new product off the shelf, takes it home, carefully unpacks the product and accessories, and then begins to meticulously read through the instructions or user manual? No, of course not. That's a rare person, one who should be watched closely and not trusted with sharp objects.
Most of us react to the purchase of a new product much the way a four-year-old reacts to a freshly wrapped present on Christmas morning: We tear right into it. And so you may find yourself sitting on top of a newly installed defect-tracking system, proud of your team's accomplishment, but still a bit foggy on how the thing actually works. So, let's walk through some of the basics of ClearQuest navigation.
By no means is this chapter a comprehensive list of all the features and functions and doodads included in your ClearQuest release; rather, this is just a quick overview of the major activities you'll need to know to move around the inside of the application.
ClearQuest is a customizable defect- and change-tracking system, designed for working within a dynamic environment that requires steady workflows but also offers the ability to change on the fly. However, using the application itself is not too complicated. ClearQuest can manage every kind of change activity associated with software development—even with the base install.
As you grow familiar with its capabilities, you can begin to customize the application and realize its full potential. It shortens development lifecycles by unifying your entire team around a single process for defects, enhancements, and artifact modifications, as shown in the following examples.
- Development engineers can identify and prioritize action items that deal with their sections of the code.
- Test engineers can track the status and resolution of change requests to verify software quality.
- Project managers can get an overview of the effort, allowing them to better allocate development resources, streamline workflow, and accurately determine release dates.
- Administrators can integrate with ClearCase or another existing tool and customize it to fit the organizational needs.
For a complete and comprehensive overview of how to use ClearQuest, you're going to need to break the plastic seal on your user manual and commit yourself to some in-depth (and viscerally stimulating) reading. Or you can trap your team's ClearQuest administrator in the hallway and grill him or her for answers to all of your problems (most of which should probably relate to ClearQuest).
For the four-year-olds at heart, grab a bar of chocolate and settle down to read this chapter. At least it will provide you with the basics, and then you can move on to more complex topics at your leisure.
[T.4.1] As you've probably already discovered, ClearQuest includes multiple interfaces into your data repository, for streamlined and consistent submission of change requests and easy access to the data within the underlying databases. With any standard installation, your system will include a complete change request lifecycle solution, which will allow your team to get up and running quickly. Right out of the box, ClearQuest allows you to immediately begin tracking your critical activities, such as assignment of tasks, prioritization of enhancements, and the all-important allocation of your limited resources.
[A.4.1] For those of you with a more robust set of applications in your change management ecosystem, ClearQuest also provides integration with those critical applications and management systems, such as ClearCase and Unified Change Management (UCM). Whether you are accessing ClearQuest from Windows, UNIX, or the web client, the basic capabilities remain the same: Users can submit change requests, view and modify existing records, and create and run queries.
Digging a little deeper into the mechanics, ClearQuest uses a three-tier architecture, as shown in Figure 4-1.
Figure 4-1 ClearQuest architecture
The first tier includes the various ClearQuest clients. Of course, for the web component, you will need to use a supported web browser. For the e-mail client, your administrator will need to configure the environment to allow ClearQuest requests through your e-mail server. To allow the ClearQuest e-mail reader to pull information into the systems, you'll also need to set up a dedicated e-mail account for ClearQuest. (ClearQuest supports Apache/Rational Web Server.)
The second tier includes the core ClearQuest functions, including application logic and business rules. These APIs implement your specified business rules and regulate all access to the ClearQuest database.
The third tier is a relational database where ClearQuest stores change requests and metadata, such as user tables.
Future chapters provide more information on how to link existing systems to ClearQuest and how to further integrate ClearQuest within your change management ecosystem.