Compuware DevPartner Studio Professional Edition 7.1
By Mike Riley
I was fortunate enough to have reviewed the 7.0 version of Compuware's DevPartner Studio Professional product back in May of 2003, and jumped at the chance to continue reviewing the latest release in the product line, especially considering that the older release does not support the 2003 edition of Visual Studio .NET. Thankfully, that problem has been rectified, along with a bundle of other optimizations and new product features that make the 7.1 release a compelling upgrade for existing DevPartner fans.
Because the latest release spans the gamut of Microsoft development tools from the Visual Studio 6.0 C++ and Visual Basic environments through VS .NET 2002 and 2003, the number of tools available in the package can be overwhelming at first. While most of the tools found in the 7.1 edition are identical to those found in the 7.0 version, this review will focus on the product enhancements in this point release; check out the earlier DevPartner 7.0 review.
For ASP.NET developers, the best new addition to the DevPartner toolset is its expansion of the source code analysis rules for ASP.NET and ADO.NET. Like the code rules culled from programming experts in earlier releases of Code Review, 7.1 includes an extensive database of expert coding practices that teaches as much as it detects. It's like having a computerized Extreme Programming peer review always available when you need it. Even during the brief time I've been reviewing this product, my own code practices have improved as a result - good job, Compuware!
Another addition specifically for the .NET developer is DevPartner's extensive ability to analyze memory consumed by every program class and object created, track every reference to those objects and quickly highlight the lines of code responsible for memory allocation. It certainly takes the guesswork out of determining which portions of an application are the most resource intensive and, by doing so, reduces or in some cases entirely eliminates bottlenecks or contentions that weren't obvious during the application design phase.
The most colorful addition to the new release is its ability to diagram code call graphs. Remember the first time you saw a Web tool display a graphical site link map? You'll get that same feeling when you review the call graphs. Like site maps, the call graphs allow developers to quickly traverse the applications dependencies and isolate problem areas (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. The call graph feature is just one of many new enhancements available in the latest release of Compuware's DevPartner Studio Professional edition.
Other minor tweaks have been made to the product to help make developers' lives easier. A difference engine now exists to show the changes between two separate profiling runs, making code change improvements considerably easier to identify. Although this could be fudged in the previous version, its fully supported inclusion is a welcome addition. DevPartner Studio also now helps developers using threading to easily identify thread deadlock scenarios, helping to avert painful bug hunts.
About the only criticism I have of this latest upgrade is the price. I have reviewed other code evaluation and instrumentation tools since the 7.0 release and, as a potential purchaser of these tools, my expectations have been reset as a result of lower cost alternatives that deliver nearly as much value as the previous DevPartner suite. Additionally, some developers might feel strong-armed into paying a hefty fee just to achieve VS .NET 2003 support while some .NET tool vendors have opted instead for a free upgrade for existing customers. It's obvious that the 7.1 version is not just a patch, but it would have been nice to reward current 7.0 licensees with a more reasonable price break.
Even with the high cost, DevPartner Studio is still the leader in the field of Visual Studio .NET code review and optimization toolsets.
Price: approximately US$1,495 per seat; US$700 for upgrade