Compuware DevPartner Studio Professional Edition 9.0
Still Robust with Enticing Enhancements
By Mike Riley
Long-time readers of asp.netPRO know that I have reviewed several iterations of Compuware s DevPartner code analysis, coverage, and profiling toolset. Now in its ninth release, DevPartner has reached statesman-like maturity as the standard by which other Windows-centric automated code evaluation tools are compared.
However, in order to continue to deliver value, successive releases must exceed the expectations set by prior versions and this can be a very difficult thing to do. And while DevPartner 9.0 certainly attains a level of enthusiasm for its new features, its maturity means less innovation and more robust, trustworthy, time-tested reliability. Thus, for those developers who prefer rock-solid, predictable performance above a growing list of obscure features, DevPartner is ideal.
That said, the company must continue to evolve the product in order to keep it relevant and profitable, which is why this release contains several new features to interest existing DevPartner customers, as well as attract new users with its comprehensive arrangement of deep code inspection utilities.
Figure 1: DevPartner s Code Review evaluates and ranks code security concerns and severity of errors, and recommends coding best practices.
Rather than repeat the existing list of features and their merits, I suggest interested readers refer to my previous reviews of the 7.0, 7.1, and 8.1 releases, accessible via the asp.netPRO Web site (see http://www.aspnetpro.com/productreviews/2003/06/asp200306mr_p/asp200306mr_p.asp, http://www.aspnetpro.com/productreviews/2003/12/asp200312mr_p/asp200312mr_p.asp, and http://www.aspnetpro.com/productreviews/2006/11/asp200611mr_p/asp200611mr_p.asp, respectively). And now that DevPartner has bundled its SecurityChecker into the suite, readers may wish to revisit my review of that 1.0 product release, as well (see http://www.aspnetpro.com/productreviews/2005/04/asp200504rm_p/asp200504rm_p.asp).
What s New?
Perhaps the most important new feature of interest for existing DevPartner users is the product s full support for the Visual Studio 2008 development environment (spanning .NET 1.x through 3.5, with the type of .NET Framework support selected during the product s time of installation), including full coverage and code analysis of Language Integrated Query (LINQ), Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) driven applications. DevPartner still supports legacy Visual Basic and Visual C++ application profiling. It also supports the newest 64-bit XP, Vista, and Windows Server 2003 and 2008 developments.
Figure 2: Code Coverage reports rank the percentage of method invocation that an application utilizes during execution. This insight is invaluable for optimizing an application s run-time performance.
Managers and developers alike will appreciate the integrated management reports that summarize the state of an application build. Previously, this statistical information needed to be aggregated from multiple sources and resulted in a collection upon which it was difficult to standardize. Using the new HTML-generated management report feature allows developers to deliver a meaningful, detailed status report in a clean, organized format.
Figure 3: DevPartner s extensive ruleset can be reviewed and customized via the Code Review Manager.
The new System Comparison tool is a feature that has been sought after for some time, especially because such functionality has been in competing products since their inception. Like the management report, the comparison tool generates a consistent snapshot of data that can be analyzed for state changes. Unlike the management report, the System Comparison provides an exhaustive analysis of a system being evaluated. The tool captures everything a developer needs to know about a system and can be used in a time sequence to understand the impact an application or behavior can have on both the application and the system on which it is executing. This can be immeasurably useful when hunting elusive bugs that occur only when system configurations align in a certain way.
Figure 4: New in the 9.0 release, DevPartner s System Comparison utility is an excellent addition designed to identify and snapshot a computer s state.
The Security Analysis tool was incorporated in the previous release, but still lacks an automatic notification and delivery feature of new security vulnerabilities. When I asked Compuware about this, they felt the frequency of new vulnerabilities did not yet warrant such a service, especially because updated security definitions can be retrieved from Compuware s site on an appropriate basis.
Having the opportunity to review successive releases of such a flagship product has provided an interesting education in product evolution and marketing. DevPartner has hit its full maturity with this release. While successive releases are sure to add new features and continuing support of Microsoft technologies, the product is as polished and complete as it has ever been. Additionally, even though the suite offers a diverse collection of code analysis, evaluation, and profiling tools, they are each presented in a consistent, organized, and effective manner. I rarely felt compelled to peruse DevPartner s online help, as each option was intuitively presented and rather obvious in its function. Compared to other scenarios where the IDE may host code evaluation tools from multiple vendors, DevPartner s common interface is a productivity winner.
Figure 5: The detailed system state collected using DevPartner s new System Comparison utility helps to quickly track down changes that could impact an application s execution.
For existing DevPartner users moving to the Visual Studio 2008 IDE, this new version is a must-have. For those developers who have yet to experience this powerful, comprehensive code inspection suite, I encourage them to watch a WebEx demonstration of the product in action via a link on the product s Web page to learn why this latest release of DevPartner will continue to remain at the top of the code analysis game for years to come.
Price: Starts at US$2,100
Mike Riley is an advanced computing professional specializing in emerging technologies and new development trends. He also is a contributing editor for asp.netPRO. Readers may contact Mike at mailto:[email protected].