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Top 5 reasons to upgrade to RTC 4.0.3

At Innovate 2013 this year I had a chance to talk to lots of customers who are running their business on IBM Rational Team Concert (RTC).  I also had a chance to survey a number of larger customers on their current usage of RTC and got some great insight into what capabilities they are using today or plan to use in the future.   One thing that stood out was the rate of adoption of our new releases.  Of 37 customers I surveyed,  more than 70% were running RTC 4.0.1 or 4.0.2 which are releases that have been out for less than 6 months.

Figure 1 : RTC Release deployed May 2013

In 2013, RTC has been on a quarterly release schedule.  Since you don’t need to install every release, you might pick and choose the ones that matter most to you. To help you determine if RTC 4.0.3 is a release you might deploy, I thought I would touch on some of the top reasons you might consider upgrading.

1. Plan loading performance: in RTC 4.0.3 we have done significant work on the performance of loading plans in the web user interface.  As you may recall, in RTC 4.0.1 we increased performance by doing traditional performance tuning and in controlled environments we saw about a 25% boost in performance between RTC 4.0 and RTC 4.0.1.  In RTC 4.0.3 we have focused on improving performance by implementing a “pay as you go” model.  So if you ask for a ranked view of a plan we will only load the data we need to display that view type.  If you ask for a work breakdown view on the plan we load the data needed for that view.  This can reduce load times by 40-50% in some scenarios.  For example, when I load the RTC Product Backlog plan (about 250 items) it loads in half the time it did prior to 4.0.3.  Give 4.0.3 a try in your plan loading scenarios and let us know your experience.  Remember it will depend on many factors, which view you load, number of work items and your own network upload and download speed.  And on another performance note, if your users are still running Internet Explorer 8 try to get them upgraded to a newer browser version that handles rich JavaScript rendering, like Internet Explorer 9 or any of the newer Firefox or Chrome browsers.  Your users will thank you.

For more information on some early performance measurements see: Record and track the performance measurements observed while improving the plan loading performance (253756)

If you would like to dive deep into the technical improvements we made see: and

2. Agile usability: We’ve made agile ranking simpler and faster in RTC 4.0.3. Have you ever dragged a work item in a plan and crossed a stack rank boundary?  We found some users found it confusing when this created a gap in the rank order. In RTC 4.0.3 their is a new ranking option called “New rank” which provides simpler and faster ways to apply rank across a backlog. So now you can work with your stakeholders in a ranking planning session and drag and drop things around and then just use the menu drop downs to sequentially rank order items. Need to tweak a few items?  No problem, explicit integer based ranking is also supported so you can go in and edit the ranking field and the backlog rank order will remain as a sequential list.  Look Mom, no gaps!   One thing to be aware of is we support both the old and new rank models in 4.0.3 and you’ll need to configure plans to use the new rank model. In a future release, we will remove the old stack based ranking model so try this out and give us your feedback.  To read more see [CCM] Simplify ranking (218174) . Or watch the  video

Figure 2: Apply New Rank across a plan

Figure 3: Explicit integer based rank - Change rank 4 to rank 2

Figure 4: Task 5 moves to rank 2 and sequential rank is maintained

3. Jenkins plug-In with traceability to Work Items and SCM: Do you have teams that are interested in RTC but use Jenkins or Hudson for continuous integration? Or teams who have integrated Jenkins with RTC using scripting approaches?  Well now, you can get an an out the box, IBM developed Jenkins plug-in that has work item and SCM traceability. Even better news is the plug-in works with RTC releases or 4.x or later so you can download the plug-in from the Jenkins plug-in site and use it with your existing RTC deployment. Besides working with multiple versions of RTC, the things to remember about our new Jenkins plug-in are; it is not shipped with the RTC product itself.  It installs directly into Jenkins as a Jenkins plug-in.  It runs the SCM phase of a Jenkins build when you are running the RTC SCM and it supports integration at both the SCM level and Build level from the RTC build result.

Figure 5: Traceability from Jenkins to RTC SCM and WI

So now you can adopt RTC incrementally into teams using Jenkins (or Hudson) without losing all the great traceability that RTC makes possible.  Make sure you have the “official” IBM plug-in for Jenkins, as there is an older one with an “official looking name”.  See our wiki page for more details on downloading the right plug-in

4. Process administration, process history and guidance: Lots of customers want to know who made what change to process history so they have an audit trail of those changes. We have always saved this information in the database but there was no way to display it in the UI, until RTC 4.0.3.  We have also made some major usability improvements in the web UI with a new Permissions Editor that makes managing permissions much easier.  New features include merging of project and team permissions, inheritance of permissions from the parent when customizing, filtering by operation name, and visibility of roles and time periods configured.  Finally, we have also added process guidance to work items so you can build process guidance right into the work item where the user needs it most.

Figure 6: New Permissions Editor in the web UI

5. You need support for Eclipse 4.2 or WAS 8.5: With RTC 4.0.3 we have added support for Eclipse 4.2 . This is important if you plan to run any of the newest Rational Application Developer(RAD) tools that are version 9.0 or later as they have an Eclipse 4.2 dependency.  We added support for Eclipse 4.2 while maintaining support for Eclipse 3.6.  With this backward compatibility,  you can run a mix of RAD 8.x and RAD 9.x clients.   This way, you can upgrade your RAD (or other Eclipse 4.2.2) teams to RTC 4.0.3 on a team by team basis and not force existing teams to upgrade all at once.  Just remember, that if you need RAD 9 or any Eclipse 4.2 based application you’ll need to upgrade your server side to RTC 4.0.3 to support Eclipse 4.2 based clients. For a complete list of platform support for CLM 4.0.3 and RTC 4.0.3 refer to our systems requirements wiki here

More reasons to upgrade: If you support teams who use the RTC Developer for IBM Enterprise Platforms we have lots of great new productivity enhancements to support build subsets so you can just rebuild your local subset rather than the entire application.  With the new static link support the Rational Team Concert z/OS dependency build automatically attempts to rebuild main programs when one or more statically linked subprograms are updated.

Figure 7: Build Subsets for RTC Developer for IBM EP

Figure 8: Static Link Support z/OS

If you have teams using the Rational Team Concert Client for Microsoft Visual Studio IDE we’ve added some great developer “my work view” use cases to manage your developer to-do list and pending approvals natively and it even works across multiple Visual Studio .NET projects.  See Figure 8 or watch the video . And we have also enhanced the Windows Shell integration with RTC SCM with a new Basic Mode that makes it much easier for non-developers to version content directly from the Windows Explorer shell.  You can see the New and Noteworthy for more information.

Figure 9: Visual Studio "My Dashboard" developer views

As you can see there are lots of reasons to upgrade to RTC 4.0.3  You can also use the following presentation materials to communicate to your users about all the RTC 4.0.3 enhancements here:

RTC 4.0.3 What’s New- Final- June 2013

So fire up an upgrade and tell us what you think!

Rolf Nelson
IBM Rational Team Concert Product Owner