I’m getting involved with a games development company as a tester (see future blog) at the moment and so I’m trying to familiarise myself with all the processes and tools involved. One area that seems to have cropped up in particular is software production management (SPM).
SPM seems to feature when vendors are talking about ‘continuous integration’ – that practice within Agile that promises to speed development and improve quality, but is argued to potentially slow down development and lower quality software engineering by introducing frequently broken builds.
An SPM system/product/offering/solution (chose your own favourite) can, so say the vendors, provide a sort of preview window into a build-test-deploy cycle so that high volume builds (such as games development) can be exposed to continuous integration techniques with less fear of disaster.
So who is doing SPM and do their arguments hold water? Electric Cloud has a product called ElectricCommander 3.0 that promises to produce results in this space. Despite sporting a name that makes it sound like an electric phaser gun, the company says that once code has been through the SPM treatment that it can then be checked into the SCM system. This does tally with things I’ve said before about SCM and games programming.
Looking further, analyst Theresa Lanowitz of voke reckons that, “Highly optimised organisations are experiencing tremendous return on investment -- in some cases upwards of US$2M per year -- by treating SPM as a critical component of the application lifecycle.”
Other vendors angling for a slice of the SPM pie include IBM with its Rational Build Forge, Borland with Gauntlet and there’s open-source tools too such as CruiseControl.
It’s amazing to think that my reports on the game’s progress are being fed into these kinds of systems (if they indeed are) and are impacting the live development of the software that I am seeing evolve every week. More as it happens…