Public Beta: QualityCentral GUI client and web service

By: John Kaster

Abstract: At long last, the community-based bug reporting, suggestion box and feedback system is ready for you to test!

Welcome to the QualityCentral public field test! We're very pleased to provide a community-supported repository of issues, suggestions, bugs, feature requests, ideas and feedback for all our products, hosted on the Borland community site.

Two articles discussing QualityCentral (QC) have been previously published that explain the goals and design of the system. The "BugCentral" project article introduces the system. "BugCentral" was the project code name. "Calculating the community point spread" introduces the classification system and asks for feedback on formulas to prioritize the information. It also provides a link to the pulse question where the community chose "QualityCentral" as the name of the system.

Beta phases

This is the first phase of the public beta test for QualityCentral. We expect to have at least three distinct phases, with a bunch of minor changes going on all the time throughout the beta cycle. The delivery order for the items listed in the beta phases is subject to change. In fact, you can help speed up any phase if you want to help deliver or work on a specific piece. Just contact me if you're interested in helping, or start a discussion on the Borland Community newsgroup, or create a suggestion in the QualityCentral project area volunteering yourself to help. If you cannot access our newsgroups with a conventional newsgroup reader, you can use a browser to access this newsgroup at http://newsgroups.borland.com.

Beta One (live)

The first beta features a MS Windows GUI client written in Delphi 6. You can download the client by going to the QualityCentral home page (the location of which is subject to change). This client will communicate with the QualityCentral server through a documented Web Service Interface.

If you don't like the client provided, you can now begin working on your own. It is unlikely that any of the existing methods for the web service will change, but more may be added. Additional parameters may be added to existing methods in the future as well. Any methods not yet implemented will raise a SOAP fault stating they are not yet implemented.

The primary focus for this beta phase will be the actual functionality QualityCentral provides, and how the "rules" are enforced for data validation, tracking, voting, rating, and so on. While it will be interesting to get feedback on performance, this is not the focus of this beta. For the convenience of rapid updates to the beta server, we will actually be leaving the web service as a CGI application for this beta phase so rapid updates to the web service will be easy. After the web service is stabilized, we will convert it to an ISAPI DLL or Apache module to maximize performance for the web service.

Beta Two

For the second beta stage, we will be producing the web browser interface and the Linux native code GUI client. The Linux client should be available in May 2002. We don't have dates for anything else, although we will begin work on the browser client in April. We will also work on integration of the Windows and Linux clients into the IDEs for Delphi, C++ Builder, and Kylix.

User documentation should also become available during this phase.

Beta Three

For the third beta, we will provide the Java client and IDE integration for JBuilder. During this stage we are also going to address any performance issues that have been reported by the Borland community, as the web service interface should definitely be stabilized by then.

Using the betas

This is a beta product. You will need to agree to a disclaimer when you download the client. If you encounter problems using the GUI client or the web service, please report them in the "QualityCentral" project area in QualityCentral. If you are unable to report them there, use the borland.public.community newsgroup. If you cannot access our newsgroups with a conventional newsgroup reader, you can use a browser to access this newsgroup at http://newsgroups.borland.com We will create a QualityCentral newsgroup in the future if it becomes necessary.

This is the "live" database

Although the client and web service is in beta, the data that is entered into the system is "real" data, with actual bug reports and suggestions for the products and projects you will find in the hierarchy. Please do not enter test submissions. Test submissions will get deleted. I'm sure you can come up with at least a few bugs or suggestions for Borland if you really want to test creation of a report!

This data is permanent (except for deletions by sysops or original submitters), and is the data that Borland will actually be evaluating as real reports from customers. Our Developer Support and QA engineers will be participating in this beta as well, so if you want something done on a product, make sure you put it into QualityCentral.

Not all of the products and projects are listed in the hierarchy right now. They will get added as Borland developer support, QA and R&D for those product or project areas become familiar with QualityCentral.

Supported platforms

This beta client has a dependency on MSXML.DLL that has not yet been removed, and may not work on Windows systems which have a version of Internet Explorer prior to 5.5 installed. You may encounter problems with versions of NT before SP5. If you can't or don't want to update your IE version and this version of the client doesn't work for you, you will need to wait for an updated client that removes the dependency. This article will be updated when that client is available.

Let the testing begin!

We look forward to your feedback. I hope to see some clients for QualityCentral written by members of the community. We will also be producing a user guide for the client and web service. If you would like to help with any of the tasks yet to do, please let me know.

You can download the client from the QualityCentral public field test home page. Whenever you go online with the client, the status bar will indicate when there is a new version available. The QualityCentral About box has a link to the QualityCentral web site where you can always download the latest client.


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