Jazz To Join Collaboration Bandwagon

As software development gets more complicated, programming teams are looking for tools to help them collaborate more efficiently. Both IBM and Microsoft are working to fill the bill.

Jazz promises to bring "in-context" collaboration to the open-source Eclipse integrated development environment, said John Patterson, an IBM Distinguished Engineer working out of the Lotus facility in Cambridge, Mass.

The project puts a "Jazz Band" at the bottom of the Eclipse UI, showing photos of relevant programming team members, along with buddy list icons showing whether they are online. Moving the pointer over the photo gives the viewer a list of the subject's projects, and clicking on the photo initiates a chat session.

The system shows which team member has code checked out, and changes are color-coded for tracking purposes. The system also allows managers to remotely monitor a programmer.

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In its collaborative aspects, Jazz would compete with elements of Microsoft's proposed Visual Studio Team Edition, due next year. IBM would not comment on the time frame or delivery specifics.

One longtime programmer who requested anonymity was nonplussed with a description of the demo. "As for who's working on what, we're kind of used to using [Microsoft] SourceSafe and Project 2003 for those things," he said.

IBM also showed off an Activity Explorer that will become part of Lotus Workplace Version 2. The interface lists a user's projects, which can be initiated by any "artifact" such as an instant messaging session. Dragging and dropping that artifact icon onto a buddy list name allows that person to view and/or edit any given object.