Today, HP introduced a series of new software tools to help agile developers manage their development projects. The tools fit into various places in HP's Application Lifecycle Management suite in interesting ways and extend the nature of agile programming to be scaled up to immense levels.

The new products include:

  • HP Agile Accelerator v5.0 features a new Taskboard interface to help you track your scrum programming sessions. It provides a view of your to-dos with a UI that looks like a bunch of sticky notes so a team can respond more rapidly and focus in on remaining tasks, as you can see below.
  • Application Lifecycle Intelligence adds a new "code changes" module in the ALM v11 suite. This makes it easier to monitor things in real-time and make sure you are testing the right places in your app that you are working on most recently. It helps to prioritize your testing and see what were the impacts of your requirements on your code. The changes can come from multiple source code management tools too and HP has provided hooks into Eclipse and Microsoft Visual Studio.
  • HP Service Virtualization v1.0, a Windows-only product, helps a developer create a simulated environment to conduct performance testing of offsite Web services. The example used at today's announcement was how to test a shipping application that worked with FedEx's Web site without actually initiating a shipment request. Here is a sample screen shot:
  • Application Portfolio Management provides better real-time access for project managers, with dashboards galore. There is a short demo on the Web link.
The demos we saw at HP involved a small programming team that was modernizing a small piece of HP's actual Web site and didn't go flawlessly, but perhaps that was an example of the intense complexity of the HP ALM product suite itself and HP's own integration of disparate programming teams that were acquired from various independent software companies such as Mercury Interactive. There are pieces in the suite for requirements management, development management and quality management. Some pieces are available just for Windows desktops, while others run on top of Web servers and are accessible through browsers.

Pricing for these new tools is complicated by the number of existing HP ALM products you already own, how many concurrent licenses you need, and other factors, but these products don't come cheaply: expect to pay six figures for a 100-person development team, as an example.

Joining the press briefing were representatives from Tasktop.com, an independent HP developer who have added their own pieces to the HP ALM ecosystem. "Think of it as a developer's version of an Outlook inbox, so you can see a top-level view of your entire development process," says Mik Kersten, the CEO of Tasktop. "Large scale agile projects are at risk of potential failure, because the real problem is that the people doing the work haven't been given the tools to really participate in the agile process. And developers might not want more transparency in their work, which is another risk. This is agile's last mile, the ability to govern across the entire enterprise and tie requirements and defects that were fixed to the actual source code."

They have a native Eclipse taskboard that uses the same information from ALM's Agile Accelerator and looks a lot like the HP taskboard, but that doesn't require a developer who lives in Eclipse to leave that environment. The Tasktop tool hooks into the HP ALM system to track code changes and requirements, again to make it easier for developers to work quickly and fix mistakes. Version 2.1 of Tasktop will be available next month, and include this HP ALM integration. They sell two different versions for $99 and $199 that offer different feature sets, and have a free open source tool that gets a million monthly downloads.