If you were an 18-year old spotty faced computer science student, would you be more interested in learning your way around the command line and scraping your fingernails on the rough edges of real code, or would you be happy to know that you'll ultimately be working with a completely automated software management system – so why bother?
All too often these days I attend seminars, briefings and demos for developers where I hear presenters apologising for being too technical before they get back to a bit more drag-and-drop coding. Now I'm not a developer, I'm a lowly software reporter truth be told, but something seems wrong here.
Shouldn't software engineering rely on an individual appreciation of every component part before we start playing with automated solutions?
If software development were classical music, this would be like buying a drum machine instead of using a percussion section.
Free Image: Wikipedia Commons
The reason for my analogy is late on last night, the US west coast IT news wires pumped out a details of Parasoft's new Concerto 4.0 software development management platform. This magnum opus is loaded with pre-configured system and process templates for use in common industry markets and/or to help comply to industry standards.
But why so much control? This sounds stifling doesn't it? It is to "ensure compliance to the management’s expectations of application quality" of course. Oh yuk - it's not sounding like music to my ears yet.
Cacophonic calamity or harmonious happiness?
While I still have misgivings about the pre-packaged nature of the product, I do see the need for so-called "cookie cutter" templating if software is destined for use in a mission critical environment, like the plane I am traveling in for instance!
So yes, Concerto 4.0 does offers templates for medical device programming, safety critical environments and compliance with the US FDA (that's the food and drug administration to you and me) general principles of software validation. Parasoft does not say whether its platform is suitable for our European medical and food related needs, but we'll let that slide for now on the basis that they have an office in swanky Croydon, so we'll assume it all translates.
I'm mostly out of classical music analogies now, but I am impressed with the product name i.e. Concerto. Ah but a concerto is delivered in three parts (yes I had to look that up!) so I think they should have played on that and talked about software foundations (bass drums), core functionality (string section) and special extras like support for Agile and Extreme programming (for me this is the bloke with the triangle or the big gong at the end) – y'know?
And Concerto 4.0 does support Agile, Scrum & Extreme Programming, so I think they missed a trick there.
So here's the company blurb and link for your delectation, "Parasoft Concerto is a complete agile development and agile management tool that seamlessly integrates into any development environment and toolset. It integrates project & task management with Automated Defect Prevention and end-to-end QA testing. This simplifies the process of rapidly and continuously delivering high-quality software."
So OK this product has a place for to fulfill a certain need and perhaps should not be thought of as suitable for every software development environment and for every type of programmer at every skill level. But when you get that whole Silicon Valley news feed thrown in your face there's not too much evenhandedness – I hope I have provided perhaps five percent of balance in response.
As for me, I can't stand classical except Prokoviev's Peter & The Wolf, which I was given as a child. Perhaps we should all go back to kindergarten eh?