Product Reviews

Quick Look: VersionOne

Project management, .NET-style.

VersionOne is a product designed to help support agile development in medium to large groups of developers. The idea is to provide support for tracking releases, tasks, iterations, and software quality, while not adding burden to developers using agile methodologies such as Extreme Programming. A Web-based application designed to be deployed on your own organization's servers, it's written in C#/ASP.NET and is targeted to help agile methods gain acceptance within Microsoft-centric organizations.

I talked this week with Robert Holler, the President of VersionOne. He tells me that VersionOne has a twofold aim. First, there's helping the developers keep track of what's going on with a project. Second, there's providing visibility into the process for management, to help on the planning side of projects using iterative development. The software makes it easy to tell what's going on and to estimate where the project stands, without requiring a ton of data entry.

If you've got a small team (say, half a dozen developers), VersionOne doesn't even want to sell you the product. At that level of development, you can do your planning by getting the whole team around the whiteboard, and you should. But when you hit the 10-50 developer range (the target market for VersionOne in its first release), and you start needing visibility into the project for marketing and management, you'll need a tool to help: at that point, the logistics of gathering around the whiteboard get insurmountable. VersionOne tries to keep the same quick, informal planning process while making it distributed and asynchronous. Think of this as a way to scale up agile methods to larger organizations.

A second goal here is to help developers bridge the gap between where they are today and where they might like to be in the future. Being a Microsoft-centric application, the hope is that VersionOne can help developers make the case for changing the process. It's an interesting thought, and one that bears keeping track of.

Future plans include issue and defect management, enhanced requirements management, and specialized versions for XP and Scrum (two of the most popular agile methodologies). You can get more information or give the product a free test-drive online by visiting the company's Web site.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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