Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Most Significant Changes in HP Quality Center 10

The Most Significant Changes
The new QC Version 10 has seen a series of changes, of which the most significant ones are:
• Version control
• Baselining
• Integrated dashboard
• Shared libraries
• Cross Project Customization

Version Control
Finally, QC has been provided with a fully integrated version control. In past versions, one had to make do with third-party integration, which generally stumbled rather than ran. The version control, if desired, must first be activated for every individual project via the SiteAdmin. Once this is done, all entities falling under the version control become Version 1. QC entities include requirements, tests, test resources, and business components. If one wishes to add a test step to a test case for example, one is automatically requested to check this test case. As soon as there is more than one version of an entity, one can compare various versions against each other or retrieve an older version.
Summary: The whole thing is intuitive and easy to operate. But what’s the use of having eight versions of a requirement, when one doesn’t know which software release a version belongs to?

Along with version control comes baselining, which is intended to answer the question above. Using the new “Management” module that replaces the “Releases” introduced in 9.x one gets to the baseline function via the “Libraries” tab. This enables one to obtain a summary of a complete testing release and retrieve it if necessary. In this way, a test set can be pinned to a baseline in the test lab. In other words, as of now, the manual copying of entire trees into the test plan module is a thing of the past. At last, test managers will be able to properly organize software that has multiple parallel releases (in production, current release, future release).
Summary: Setting up the baseline works very well. While creating it, a log keeps one updated on what is currently taking place. However, setting up baselines probably needs to be done during off-peak hours since it can take a while for larger QC projects.

Integrated Dashboard
Equally interesting for test managers is the new integrated dashboard that can be found on the left-hand navigation bar where the “Management” module is, too. The special feature of the new dashboard does not pertain to the graphics, which are not particularly appealing, but the “Cross-Project” functionality. It is now finally possible, when working on a QC project, to get an overview of all of one’s ongoing projects. These dashboards are freely configurable and can be designated to be personal favorites or publicly accessible. Special Excel reports also enable direct access to the database via SQL. The generated reports can then be graphically processed at the same time by means of VBScript.

Summary: The new dashboard module is quickly customized and achieves its purpose in ongoing projects. What is missing is a sensible way of printing content for a given project meeting, for example.

Shared Libraries
Libraries, which are located in the “Management” module, can be re-used and distributed with Version 10. A library represents a collection of entities in a QC project, including their relationships to each other. When dealing with many similar projects, it offers the advantage of not having to repeatedly create entities. Libraries can be imported from project A into project B, compared against each other, or even synchronized. A library also allows one to collect the same entities as in versioning. Defects are not included, but they can be shared with the new “HP Quality Center Synchronizer” manually among several QC projects. As mentioned, the advantages really only present themselves when one has many and/or large-scale projects. I suppose that is why this functionality is available only in the QC Premier Edition (also available are the Standard and Enterprise editions).
Summary: It remains to be seen whether this function will actually be used in real-world applications. In my opinion, it makes perfect sense to be able to take over pre-defined assets from another project so that one doesn’t have to keep re-inventing the wheel.

Cross Project Customization
And now here’s the last big change: Cross Project Customization. Many organizations have defined standards, such as a uniform defect status field or a standardized priority scale, for their software quality-related areas. However, these fields and lists were often changed or even deleted by QC project administrators. Some companies have even gone to great lengths in using their own programming to define a template that can be distributed to all QC projects, thereby establishing a uniform standard.
For all those who want to spare themselves this time and effort or do not wish to keep an in-house programmed interface going, there is a solution. Site Administrator now provides a way to link projects with a template. If the template is changed, the delta can then be passed on later at the right point in time. This function has been awaited not only by test managers who like to have the same configuration in all their projects, but especially also by the respective operators of QC installations, namely the system administrators. Cross Project Customization is also only available in the Premier Edition.
Summary: This change is awesome! Finally, testing organizations or Test Factory managers are able to implement a certain basic standard in their projects. Once this is accomplished, nothing can get in the way of standardized, across-the-board reporting.

Is an Upgrade Worth It?
The new Version 10 is an absolute milestone not only for tests managers. It also makes life easier for testers, Test Factory managers, as well as QC system administrators. The new functions have been anticipated for quite some time and have been implemented in the new product in a well-conceived manner.