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JazzHub goes on a roadtrip to Carleton University

Last week Adam Mooz, Rob Retchless and I visited Carleton University in Ottawa to talk about Rational Team Concert (RTC) and JazzHub. We managed to lure a good 35 students to join us with two of their favourite things: free t-shirts and pizza. However, if they came for the pizza, that certainly isn’t why they stayed. The energy in the room was amazing. Everyone was very engaged and genuinely interested in hearing our thoughts about the tools and the culture at IBM.

JazzHub Demo at Carleton

Adam Archer (left) and Rob Retchless (right) demo JazzHub and RTC.

JazzHub is a free hosted RTC server for academic projects. The idea is that we do all of the server installation and administration, making it easy for students and teachers to get up and running quickly in a fast-paced environment like a classroom. Naturally, the audience of the talk was perfect for the tools we were presenting and their interest definitely reflected that.

The talk started at 6:00 pm and pizza was set to arrive at 7:00 pm. Though the pizza was about half an hour late, I don’t think a single person noticed as the audience was so focused on learning about RTC. It was an incredibly interactive experience with audience participation steering the direction of the conversation just as much as we were. We covered everything from the capabilities of source control, work items, process and the rest of RTC to the lifestyle and culture of IBM at the Ottawa and Toronto software labs. When the pizza finally did arrive, we scarfed down a few bites in between the numerous follow-up questions from students. One student had even created a project on JazzHub and installed the RTC client during our talk and was already asking us questions about what the next steps were for his project. We didn’t wind up leaving the room until 9:00 pm at which point there were still a good 10 students or so discussing the merits of various source control systems and other issues of software development. What an amazing thing to see!

JazzHub Demo at Carleton

Adam Mooz (left) and Adam Archer (right) show the RTC download page.

This experience showed us that enthusiasm for tooling among up and coming developers is huge. It showed us that the key to writing successful tools is learning how to connect to the people that use the product and make their experience as smooth as possible. It reminded us how much we get out of being engaged with the people who will be grappling with our features on a day-to-day basis and motivated us to focus on removing as many of their road blocks as possible. They are eager to try as many tools as possible and find the ones they can be the most effective with. After all, a good tool saves them time in their work.

We also learned that some students have a surprisingly rigid perception of the development organization at IBM. We are still thought of as the “blue suit company” where everyone is faceless and just comes to work and does their job. The reality is that our development labs are very friendly and inviting and are wonderful places that foster innovation and creativity. The majority of Jazz developers make their own hours, dress casually and speak their minds. In a matter of a couple hours we managed to shatter that false image of life at IBM among a small group of students and hopefully they are spreading the word through the rest of the computer science community at Carleton.

This event was not only a lot of fun, but was also an extremely valuable experience for everyone involved. For us, as developers of the tools, it was useful to get an idea of which features are important to our potential users. For the students, it gave great insight into what jobs in software development will be like and the kinds of challenges they will be faced with once they are finished their degrees. It also gave them the opportunity to see the value of source control systems and other tools that are rarely included in university curriculum. I can’t wait for more school visits like this in the future!

If you are interested in having us come to your school, let us know! Send an email to

Adam Archer
Developer, Jazz Foundation and JazzHub