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Rational Team Concert Shell: Where are my pending changes?

“I have delivered some new files to the stream”, said a teammate at our morning scrum. “Can you please edit them?”

We’re agile.  I promised to return the files within three working days. Then, I grabbed some coffee, opened Rational Team Concert Shell, and tried to remember what it was that the task bar icon had very helpfully told me just the day before when I installed the client.

Shell click from task bar

Right! I already have a repository connection and a sandbox. Now, all that I need to do is log on to the repository and see the pending changes for the files in my sandbox. So, I went to my sandbox by clicking Manage Artifacts on the Shell Control Panel.

Shell sandboxes

I did not see any visual cues for any changes, so I right-clicked the relevant sandbox, saw that there was a Refresh option, and clicked that. A message box popped up to tell me that pending changes were being computed.

User sentiment: Reassured

After that, I still saw nothing that told me some files had changed somewhere. So, where are the pending changes?

It just so happened that for the pending changes to be displayed, the View option on the Microsoft Windows Explorer menu bar must be enabled. You can visit the Microsoft support site for more information on how to accomplish this. It is a one-time task.

Then, close all instances of Microsoft Windows Explorer, restart the Shell Control Panel, and click View > Explorer Bar > Team Concert Pending Changes view.

There still remained one more step. All those sandboxes that I have? Pending changes can be displayed for only that sandbox which is set to a “current” state; only one sandbox can be current at a time and this has to be done manually every time that you open the Shell client. The current sandbox is overlaid with a blue arrow. What I had been doing till now was refreshing a sandbox that was not current.

Shell current sandbox

So, here, in brief, are the steps to see the pending changes:

  1. Open the Rational Team Concert Shell control panel.
  2. Go to the Artifacts page, right-click a sandbox, and set it as current. Also, ensure that you are logged in to the repository that the sandbox connects to.
  3. Click View > Explorer Bar > Team Concert Pending Changes view.

The pending changes are shown in a panel that opens at the bottom of Microsoft Windows Explorer. The panel looks very similar to the Pending changes view in the Rational Team Concert client for Eclipse IDE. The changes can also be seen if I right-click a sandbox and click Open, when another instance of Windows Explorer is opened, showing the folders overlaid with change icons.

Pending changes icons

It is usually a good practice to see what the incoming changes are before merging them into a file in one’s sandbox. Rational Team Concert Shell has two ways of comparing the changes.

Windows Explorer vs. Pending changes

The differences that I noticed between the Pending changes view and the Microsoft Windows Explorer view:

  • In Microsoft Windows Explorer, at first glance it appears that I can accept changes file by file, one file at a time, while in the Pending Changes View, I have to accept an entire change set, which could have more than one file. However, it only appears to be so. Even in the Microsoft Windows Explorer view, when I try to accept changes for a file that is part of a change set with other files, I get a warning message.
  • In Microsoft Windows Explorer, to relate a changed file to its change set or to its associated work item, I must use the Show History option. Alternatively, I can right-click a file and click Related Work Items > Associate. In the Pending Changes view, the display starts from a change set and drills down to a file.

A word here about comparing files. If I do not want to use the default comparison editor of the Shell client (I didn’t!), I can specify that another comparison tool be used. To do so, I clicked the Manage Preferences option in the Shell Control Panel and then used the Compare Tools options to specify my favorite tool.

Note to blog reader

– Do not change any of the arguments in any of the fields of the Compare Tools panel unless you are using the Custom option in the External Compare Tool to Use field.

– If you are working in a Windows 7 environment, ensure that the default location on the Preferences page is the same as the actual location of the executable file of your preferred comparison editor.


The complete set of steps to get anyone started with source control operations are these:

  1. Install Rational Team Concert Shell.
  2. Connect to a repository.
  3. Load a component from the repository workspace.
  4. Specify a location on your computer where the repository files are to be put. This location is the sandbox.
  5. Make sure that the Pending Changes View option is enabled.
  6. Optional: Specify a comparison tool to be used for comparing changes between two files.
  7. Make sure that a sandbox is specified as the current sandbox.

Then, see which files have incoming changes, see what the changes are, accept the changes, and start working with the files.

User wishlist

Would it not be nice if the last used sandbox is automatically taken as the current sandbox
when the Shell client is opened again?

Random question, and answer thereto

If all that I need to do is take files from a team repository, modify them, and put them back into the repository, how is Rational Team Concert Shell different from the Rational Team Concert client for Eclipse IDE and the web client?

All three clients have the options to download files from and upload modified files to the team repository. All three clients can be used to share new files and folders with the team. Files can be locked and unlocked in all three clients.

What the web client does not have is an in-built option to compare two files before merging the changes or downloading the file by overwriting an existing one.

Anindita Basu
IBM Rational