For years, tools in the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) space were proprietary, but that has changed rapidly with the explosive growth of open source technologies. Indeed, some people (such as Mik Kersten, CEO of Taskforce Technologies) believe that open source ALM could take off in the next year or so.
While ALM tools are often associated with the heavyweight workflow characteristics of enterprise application development, successful open source projects reflect the transformation taking place in ALM: developers increasingly are using lean methods and lightweight, developer-centric tools.
"In contrast with the application development tools which we use for writing and debugging code, ALM tools assist us with an application's evolution over time," said Kersten.
At their core, ALM tools track tasks and changes, help manage builds and releases, and support the dialogue that defines an application's evolution. This subset of ALM is sometimes referred to as Application Development Management (ADM). On top of this core feature set are tools for project and product management. Large organizations add additional tools to the stack to handle program and project portfolio management.
Due to a slew of factors, open source ALM tools have matured enormously during the past decade, said Kersten. Factors he cites are resource constraints, a preference for using open source technologies, and a desire for developers to sharpen and extend their toolsets.
Millions of Lines of ALM Code on Eclipse
"Consider the scale of ALM on Eclipse.org: 33M lines of code in the last coordinated release [733 installable features/components], 330K total Bugzilla reports [3K new each month], 15K Bugzilla users, 1K committers [400 active], 300 projects and 173 Hudson build jobs," he said. "Add to that dozens of interdependencies between Eclipse projects and other open source projects such as the popular Apache libraries."
ALM on Eclipse is managed entirely with open source tools, including Bugzilla, CVS, Git, Hudson, MediaWiki and Mylyn.
Kersten said the input from the 1,948 respondents to the 2010 Eclipse Community Survey reflects the degree to which open source tools have percolated into commercial software development.
"The striking pattern is that the core open source ALM tools, when combined, have the market lead in each of three key ALM categories: tasks, versions, and builds," Kirsten added.
In the tasks category, Bugzilla, Trac and Mantis account for more than 50 percent. In the versions category, CVS, Subversion and Git hold 80 percent, while CruiseControl (Ant) and Hudson/Jenkins represent about 75 percent of all build tools.
In 2011, Kersten expects this trend will continue and that open source tools will make their way into the ALM stacks of more conservative organizations.