Work item tracking
Work items are the fundamental mechanism in Rational Team Concert to track and coordinate development tasks and workflows, all governed by your team’s associated process. In addition, work items are the hub for linkage between many Rational Team Concert artifacts (e.g. builds, work items, and change sets) and provide support for integration with other products. Work Item customization can be used to create new work item types or modify existing types in order to support the development process that your team follows.
Work item tracking includes the following functionality:
- Eclipse, web UI and client for Visual Studio
- Discovering Rich Work item functionality
- Work item customization
- Tracking work item changes
- Importing work items
- Tagging work items
- Easily finding duplicates
- Creating and viewing image attachments
- Automatic artifact linking
- Message @Me
- RESTful change management API
Eclipse, web UI, and client for Visual Studio usage for work item creation and tracking
Manage development tasks (defects, enhancements, tasks, stories, etc.) with ease in the Eclipse-based IDE, in your favorite web browser, or in the client for Visual Studio. All environments provide rich tools to create, edit, and query work items. The IDE tools are tightly integrated with the other Rational Team Concert components like Source Control and Build, so you can navigate to other artifacts with ease.
The web-based tools provide much of the functionality and comfort of the Eclipse-based IDE, but without requiring any installation effort.
Discovering Rich Work item functionality
Rational Team Concert offers rich and fully customizable work item attribute capabilities in the Work Item editor.The work item editor includes toolbar icons that support rich text formatting in the Description field. As shown below, you can create numbered and bulleted lists; apply different fonts, sizes, and colors; use bold, italics, underline, and strikethrough; and easily link to other work items and users.
The available values for an attribute can depend on the current value of another attribute, allowing to express dependencies.
User input can be validated and a work item can only be saved if the constraints are matched.
When saving a work item with an unassigned category (‘Filed Against’ attribute), Rational Team Concert offers to automatically guess the category based from the content of the work item. Since this feature uses the fulltext service to derive the category from similar work items, it works best if the description attribute is rich in content (e.g. contains a stack trace).
Work item customization
In Rational Team Concert you can customize the Work Item component to better support the development process that your organization or team follows.
Rational Team Concert supports customizations like creating new work item types with different sets of attributes, enumeration types, and work item type-specific presentation layouts for the web UI, the Eclipse-based IDE, and the client for Visual Studio. In addition, advanced customizations like defining specific state transitions, validation rules, dependent value sets and setting up predefined work item queries are also possible.
Customization can be done from the Eclipse client and the web interface.
In the web UI, the layout of the work item editor can be arranged in a WYSIWYG fashion.
You can configure work item fields or attributes to be dynamically read-only based on conditions in other fields.
Work item templates bring automated population of work items to Rational Team Concert. A template is a blueprint for work items that can be used to populate them with pre-set attributes and links. The Eclipse client of Rational Team Concert supports the capturing templates from existing work items, instantiation of templates, and sharing of templates via file export and import. In the web client, work items can be populated from existing templates. All work item attributes are supported by templates, including custom attributes and links to other work items.
A special wizard guides the capturing of templates from existing work items and provides graphical support for selecting work items. In addition, the wizard shows also linked work items with their relationships.
Frequently used templates can be accessed quickly through an instantiation history. Its entries are sorted by usage (recently used templates are placed on top) and indicate whether a template has unbound variables.
Sharing of templates is supported via file import and export.
Tracking work item changes
Rational Team Concert makes it very easy to track changes. RSS feeds are used to notify about every activity in your team. You can even subscribe to a work item query to be notified on any change in work items that match the query.
Team Dashboard in the Eclipse-based IDE of Rational Team Concert is the main hub to manage and read all feeds you are subscribed to. The web UI provides viewlets from the dashboard to track changes.
A larger view on news entries is provided from the timeline view. It arranges the news entries by date and allows to quickly read through all the events at once.
Traditional email users will benefit from the fine grained options Rational Team Concert provides for work item change notifications. Based on the kind of a change and the relation to the work item, email notifications can be enabled or turned off.
Import work items
The Eclipse client of Rational Team Concert provides three import wizards to import bugs from Bugzilla, change management records from ClearQuest, and work items from comma-separated-values files (CSV). The CSV importer can not only create new work items but can optionally update existing work items as well.
All three importers support an XML mapping file where you can specify how the input data of the three source formats is mapped to work items attributes and values.
In addition, the CSV importer is capable of creating and updating work item links. The links can either point to yet to be created work items from the CSV file itself or to existing work items of the target repository.
Tagging work items
Use content assist to conveniently tag work items in the Eclipse or web UI work item editor. If you want to see a set of work items as a tag cloud, simply drop a query into the Tag Cloud view.
Clicking on a tag in this view runs a query for this particular tag in the Work Item explorer. It is also possible to start a query for all work items with a specific tag from the work item editor directly.
Work Item queries can be created in a graphical editor both in the Eclipse UI and the web UI.
Work Item queries can also be shared with an entire team or with individual users. These queries will show up in separate sub-folders of the Shared Queries folder in the Team Artifacts view.
Links between artifacts are an important mechanism in Rational Team Concert because they enable some of the integrations that make Rational Team Concert so powerful. Work Item links are shown on the Links page of the work item editor and in the Quick Information section on the Overview page. But links are not only used for navigation between artifacts. In the query editor you can create queries to answer questions like:
- Show me all work items in my team area that are blocked by an open work item in team area X.
- Show me all work items that depend on one of my work items.
- Show me all work items that have an attachment larger than 5MB.
- Show me all closed work items that do not have a change set attached.
In the Work Items view you can enable the relationship mode to make link relationships between work items easier to grasp.
Links to artifacts in other repositories and products can also be shown in query results. Hovering over these links reveals more information about the linked artifact.
Easily finding duplicates
Powerful duplicate search functionality simplifies bug triage substantially because it helps you to identify potential duplicate work items. Use the ‘Find Potential Duplicates’ tool in the header of the work item editor to initiate a duplicate search.
A live duplicate search indicator allows you to identify duplicate work items quickly as you type. The search is run automatically based on the contents of the work item.
Approval, review, or verification requests can be easily set up for a work item. On the Approval tab of the work item editor, you can create one or more approvals of the three predefined types, give them a name, set a due date, and add any number of users as approvers. Approvers will get email notification for the initial request and as an overdue reminder. A predefined query exists to quickly find all your pending approvals (‘Pending Approvals for me’).
Work item customization can be used to automatically trigger a state transition on the work item if an approval has been accepted (or rejected).
Rational Team Concert allows to print either a full work item or the result of a work item query. To print a work item, select the print action from the work item editor in the web, or select the print action from the menu in the Eclipse-based IDE.
The work item will show up nicely formatted with all the details and contents.
Printing a work item query will transform the query result into a table showing the columns that where selected.
Creating and viewing image attachments
Images and screenshots can be easily attached to a work item through the Attachments section on the links page of the work item editor. An even quicker way is to use the Capture Screenshot tool. It can be started from the toolbar of Rational Team Concert Eclipse-based IDE or from a Work Item editor in the web UI. With this tool you can capture a part of the screen, annotate the image with simple line drawings, arrows and text, and attach it to a new or existing work item.
To quickly view attached images, simply hover over the image attachment in the text. A small thumbnail is shown which can be enlarged to the original size by pressing the F2 key.
Automatic artifact linking
Rational Team Concert tries to detect references to artifacts in text and automatically turns them into ‘live objects’; in other words, the textual reference becomes a hyperlink and a context menu provides type-specific commands. Typical examples are references to work items in the form ‘defect 12234’, references to other comments like ‘comment 12’, or references to Java classes as found in Java stack traces. If you click on a Java class, Rational Team Concert opens the class if it is available in your workspace.
Since collaboration is essential in a distributed team, Rational Team Concert lets you address one or more colleagues in a work item comment. While writing a comment or description you can simply type ‘@’ followed by the colleague’s user ID. Content assist can help you to find the right user ID. Just press Ctrl+Space and begin typing the person’s first or last name.
Your addressee will receive an alert:
and a change event in her/his event log:
RESTful change management API
A HTTP-based REST API allows creating, modifying, and querying work items from Java and non-Java clients. In addition to direct modification and query functionality, the API also exposes complete HTML components that allow searching and creating work items.
The API is compliant with the OSLC 1.0 and 2.0 specifications for Change Management. Adhering to these specifications lets you write clients that will work with any OSLC-compliant implementation of the Change Management API, including Rational ClearQuest.