Rational XDE Developer Plus
By Brian Noyes
Rational XDE Developer Plus 2003 delivers the next increment in the XDE product line with some significant improvements and functionality enhancements. The first thing to note about this release is that it's the version you'll need to integrate with Visual Studio .NET 2003. Other changes include the addition of a new tool named Visual Trace, and the PurifyPlus feature is bundled into the Plus version. PurifyPlus in turn includes Purify, Quantify, and PureCoverage. XDE of course still has all the modeling capabilities of previous versions of XDE with many enhancements that will make great additions to your development process. You can create all the defined types of UML diagrams, with full code and model synchronization, in a seamless model I have not seen in any other modeling package.
Purify gives you detailed insight to the way your programs handle memory, and it lets you identify and isolate problems. Just because you are living in a garbage-collected world in .NET doesn't mean you still have lots of ways to misuse memory in your applications. Quantify gives you a set of profiling tools to determine where the hot spots and bottlenecks are in your application so you can apply optimization only where it is needed. PureCoverage helps you ensure you have full code coverage in your testing. These three tools have been around as separate product offerings by Rational for awhile, but they are enhanced for the .NET environment while still integrating with Visual Studio 6 for legacy applications.
The other new addition to XDE is the Visual Trace tool. This is a runtime analysis tool that gives you more insight to the running behavior of your programs through the dynamic generation of a sequence diagram within VS .NET. It displays the execution of your application in real time, showing you not only the calling patterns of the code, but also displaying information on code coverage, timing, thread status, and memory utilization (see Figure 1). You also can generate a sequence diagram as part of your XDE model through a simple context menu selection within a Visual Trace diagram.
Figure 1. Visual Trace makes a nice addition to the XDE product for generating dynamically sequence diagrams that depict your code's execution.
On the modeling front, this version of XDE sports spectacular new features, mainly because the previous versions had the modeling process nailed so well there was not a ton of room for improvement there. It includes a few usability enhancements, such as new menu options, as well as additions to the presentation of model elements, such as a glyph that appears on elements existing outside your model that you add to your diagrams.
The other significant new capability added to XDE is the integration of asset management functionality, which can help you manage your modeling, code, and documentation artifacts as a part of your overall development process. Assets are any kind of artifact that is part of your development process or, more commonly, a composite of multiple artifacts that together provide a package of reusable stuff. This might be a combination of a model element, some code, and documentation. Or you could take a pattern implementation from XDE and wrap it in an asset with some metadata that describes it. You can segregate your model into separate assets and store them in an asset repository. Asset repositories can be local, remote, or hosted by Rational or other service providers. By wrapping artifacts in assets along with metadata that describes them, you can search for assets in the repository and view the metadata and documentation before choosing to apply the asset to your project. Other Rational products including ClearCase and ClearQuest provide support for assets (they are part of the Rational Unified Process as well), and the Rational Developer Network provides a collaborative environment for exchanging and sharing assets.
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