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Link Validity — Coming in CLM version 6.0.1

As part of the Rational solution for Collaborate Lifecycle Management (CLM) version 6.0.1 we are introducing Link Validity, a new feature in DOORS Next Generation, Quality Manager, and Design Manager. In projects that have configuration management enabled, Link Validity can take advantage of the features that multi-stream development brings to the table.

What it is and why it matters

Link Validity is a status on the relationship between two artifacts. This status indicates whether the contents of the two artifacts meet the intended meaning of the link between them. This information helps teams collaboratively manage and propagate changes between linked artifacts.

Link Validity provides three relationship states:

  • Suspect: The system sets links as suspect when they are new or unknown. A person needs to verify whether the contents of both artifacts satisfy the intended meaning of the link.
  • Valid: Team members set this status when the contents of the artifacts on both ends of the link satisfy the meaning of the link.
  • Invalid: Team members set this status when the contents of the two artifacts do not satisfy the intended meaning of the link that connects them.

When you change a Link Validity status, the system keeps track of who set the state, when it was set, and any comments about why that state was chosen (if provided). For example, a Quality Manager project that tests a DOORS Next Generation Project contains test cases that validate requirements. The relationship between a specific requirement and test case is considered “valid” when all criteria of the requirement are covered by the test case, “invalid” if something is missing or incorrect, and “suspect” if the consistency has not been assessed.

How it works

Unlike suspect linking in earlier CLM versions, Link Validity compares the actual contents of the artifacts in a relationship. This is a very important distinction, as it allows for heavy re-use (cutting down on effort) and prevents insignificant changes from causing a relationship to become suspect.

In configuration-enabled projects that have many streams and baselines of work, it is very common to have overlap of content. Link Validity leverages this for the benefit of end-users by propagating validity states that have been set in one stream to all other streams that have identical content for the linked artifacts. If the content of two artifacts is not the same between two streams, then the validity status is not inherited in this fashion. The result is that the same assertions do not need to be made more than once about the same content. This also allows for content restorations to take advantage of whatever previous validity status existed.

In addition to status on individual artifact relationships, Link Validity also has a concept called Validity Summary.
This summary shows the aggregate Link Validity status for all relevant links an artifact has, and will always show the worst-case scenario. This means that if there is at least one relevant invalid link, the summary is shown as invalid. If there is at least one suspect relationship, the summary is shown as suspect. The summary is shown as valid only if all relationships are valid.

Validity Summary is not affected by the relationship status involving downstream artifacts. An example of this is that a test case is downstream from a requirement. If the relationship between a test case and a requirement is marked invalid, it does not affect the Validity Summary of the requirement, but it does affect the Validity Summary of the test case.

Complete Validity Summary data is visible as a hover action on the summary indicator.

Improving upon Suspect Links

In some ways, Link Validity can be thought of as “Suspicion 2.0”. In fact, at a glance, Link Validity may appear very similar to Suspect Links in prior CLM releases. However, there are some very important (and beneficial) differences between them:

  • Link Validity is only available in projects that have opted-in to Configuration Management
    • Suspect Links is not available in opted-in projects
  • Link Validity has three states — Valid, Suspect, and Invalid
    • Suspect links has two states — Suspect and Not Suspect
  • The initial state for a Link Validity relationship is Suspect, and requires a team member to indicate whether it is Valid
    • The initial state for a Suspect Links relationship is Not Suspect, and will be marked Suspect upon a change
  • Determination of change in Link Validity is based on actual resource content, which makes it Configuration Management safe
    • Determination of change in Suspect Links is based on modification time, which does not work in a configuration-managed world

You can report on it

As part of the CLM version 6.0.1 release we have made the Link Validity data available for custom reporting. If you have deployed both Lifecycle Query Engine and Report Builder in your environment, you can add the Link Validity TRS as a data source and begin crafting custom reports that contain validity status data on the links between artifacts.

If you’re eager to give Link Validity a spin right away, get the latest candidate build here. Otherwise, you’ll have wait for the CLM 6.0.1 release to post, which is just around the corner.