Rational Synchronization Server

A decision-making and requirements management solution

The case study in this article talks about IBM® Rational® Synchronization Server, a framework that integrates IBM® Rational® Focal Point™ and IBM® Rational® DOORS®. The framework provides capabilities like attribute mapping, sync-directions, and sync intervals, and thus helps map Rational DOORS objects to their respective Rational Focal Point elements. This framework combines the power of the decision-making capabilities of Rational Focal Point and the requirements management capabilities of Rational DOORS. The intended audience includes data analysts, business intelligence professionals, product managers, and developers.

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Amrut Kulkarni (amrukulk@in.ibm.com), System Software Engineer, IBM

author photoAmrut Kulkarni has over four years of experience in software product testing. He has worked on many domains, including Software Configuration Management and Product Portfolio Management. His areas of interest include Decision Support Systems, Portfolio Management, Datawarehousing, and Business Intelligence. He currently works for Rational Focal Point as a Software Test Specialist.



25 March 2010

Also available in Chinese Portuguese

Introduction

Requirements management is an important aspect of enterprise lifecycle management (ELM). The purpose of requirements management is to ensure that your enterprise meets the expectations of your customers and stakeholders.

IBM® Rational® DOORS® is a leading requirements management that you can use to optimize requirements communication, collaboration, and verification across the supply chain. Rational DOORS, does not include features like Prioritization and Data Visualization.

Decision making forms the core of every enterprise lifecycle. Enterprises have to make intelligent decisions based on cost, features, value, and time to market. Products that support decision making must help you arrive at the right decisions about developing the right products, balancing the time and cost factors.

IBM® Rational® Focal Point™ is one such comprehensive decision making solution for project, product, and portfolio management (PPM). As a product planner, you can use Rational Focal Point to capture data from customers, market research, and internal stakeholders. Later, you can create value out of that data through Rational Focal Point's unique features like prioritization and visualization. By centralizing information key to decision making, status reporting, and portfolio views, Rational Focal Point helps bridge the gap between business and engineering. The key to success in the PPM domain is to make enterprise architecture plans actionable and value-driven by assessing and weighing the requests against business priorities, and road mapping alongside other initiatives. The goal is that the most valuable capabilities are not minimized or eliminated through project delivery.

Integrating these two ELM products helps you combine the capabilities of the Requirements Management domain and the PPM domain so that you can make faster and better decisions.

The Rational DOORS to Rational Focal Point synchronizer is a part of the IBM® Rational® Synchronization framework. The purpose of this tool is to synchronize data between a Rational Focal Point module and a Rational DOORS module. With this data available, you can prioritize requirements from Rational DOORS using Rational Focal Point, and use Rational Focal Point to capture and prioritize user requirements before sending these requirements to Rational DOORS to be broken down into system requirements, specifications, designs, and so on. The synchronization framework and the synchronizer components that work with it are designed to be installed on a server and run as a service.

Product requirements

The following products are required to run the Rational Synchronization Server feature

  • Rational Focal Point 6.x or later
  • Rational DOORS 9.x or later
  • Rational Synchronization Framework 1.4

Rational Synchronization Framework login page

Figure 1 shows the Rational Synchronization Server 1.4 login page, on which you provide your Tomcat User name and Password.

Figure 1. Login page in browser
Synchronization Server login page

Larger view of Figure 1.

Configuration

You configure the Rational Synchronization Server through the Web-based interface provided by the framework. It consists of a two-stage process.

1. Creating the template

First, you enter the Template Name and Focal Point Server Settings on the Templates tab, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Enter the Template File Name and the Server URL
User enters name of the Template

Larger view of Figure 2.

The template contains information about the connection to the Rational Focal Point server and the Rational DOORS server, including attribute mapping apart from Time Zone settings.

2. Creating a link

Next, you enter General Settings and Synchronizer Options on the Links tab, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Select the Template File Name, Sync Time Unit, and Sync Time Interval
link name and Template File Name fields

Larger view of Figure 3.

The link also contains a reference to a template as seen in the snapshot. The link tells the synchronization framework when to start synching and also the sync interval.

Focal Point server settings

The server settings include Time Zone, Server URL, UserID, and Password, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4. Enter the settings on the Templates tab
Time Zone, Server URL, User ID and password fields

Larger view of Figure 4.

Web services must be enabled in Rational Focal Point. Also, you need to create two text attributes in Rational Focal Point. One attribute will hold the ID of the Rational DOORS object that it is synched with, and the other will contain a link to the Rational DOORS object. Finally, you need to create a view.

Rational DOORS server settings

Figure 5 shows the server settings, which include the Server URL, User ID, Password, Rational DOORS Module Name, Rational Doors View, and Synchronizing Attribute.

Figure 5. Enter the server settings and then connect
server URL, User ID and password

Larger view of Figure 5.

In Rational DOORS, you need to create a project and a Module. You also need to create a string attribute, which will hold the workspace ID and the internal element ID of the Rational Focal Point element that it is synched with. Next, enter the Rational DOORS URL and connect.


How the Rational Synchronization Framework works

When the Rational Focal Point to Rational DOORS synchronizer is launched by the Rational Synchronization Framework, it logs in to the Rational Focal Point server and starts a Rational DOORS client session. It then opens the module in exclusive edit mode and loads the view. The synchronization will stop if any of these steps fail.

If the login and module opening were successful, the synchronizer gets a list of all of the elements and objects visible in the views specified in the link file that have changed since the last time that the synchronizer ran. If the synchronizer hasn't been run before, it will synchronize all visible elements and objects.

For each Rational DOORS object and Rational Focal Point element that was modified since the last synchronization, the synchronizer will find the corresponding element or object in the other tool:

  • If there is a corresponding element, the attributes will be synchronized according to the attribute mappings defined in the template.
  • If there is no corresponding object or element, an object or element will be created and attributes will be set according to the mappings.

If synchronization was successful, the time at the beginning of the synchronization will be saved to be used during the next run to determine what needs to be synchronized. The synchronizer uses the time at the beginning of the synchronization rather than the time at the end of the synchronization in order to ensure that any modifications that happened during the synchronization process are captured during the next synchronization.

Attribute mapping and synchronization states

You map attributes through the Rational Synchronization Framework, as shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6. Map Rational DOORS attributes to Rational Focal Point attributes
map respective DOORS and Focal Point attributes

The framework supports four synchronization states or ways of synchronizing:

  • oncreate means that this pair of attributes will only be synchronized during the creation of a new object or element.
  • doorstofp means that the attribute values will always be copied from Rational DOORS to Rational Focal Point. If the value is changed in Rational Focal Point, it will be overwritten with the value from Rational DOORS during the next synchronization.
  • fptodoors means that the attribute values will always be copied from Rational Focal Point to Rational DOORS. If the value is changed in Rational DOORS, it will be overwritten with the value from Rational Focal Point during the next synchronization.
  • on means that the synchronization will be bi-directional. The integration uses the last modification time of the object or element to decide which value to use. The attribute value belonging to the object or element that has been modified most recently will be used in both Rational Focal Point and Rational DOORS.
Table 1. Supported attribute types
Rational DOORS attribute typeRational Focal Point attribute type
BooleanCheckBox
EnumerationChoice
DateDate
RealFloat
IntegerInteger
Multi-value enumerationMultiChoice
StringText
TextText
UsernameText

Resources

Learn

  • Browse the Rational DOORS developerWorks page for links to technical articles and many related resources. The developerWorks Rational software landing page is also a good starting place.
  • Explore the Rational DOORS Information Center.
  • Join the Rational DOORS forum to ask questions and participate in discussions.
  • Browse the Rational Focal Point developerWorks page for links to technical articles and many related resources. The developerWorks Rational software landing page is also a good starting place.
  • Explore the Rational Focal Point Information Center.
  • Join the Rational Focal Point forum to ask questions and participate in discussions.
  • Learn about other applications in the IBM Rational Software Delivery Platform, including collaboration tools for parallel development and geographically dispersed teams, plus specialized software for architecture management, asset management, change and release management, integrated requirements management, process and portfolio management, and quality management. You can find product manuals, installation guides, and other documentation in the IBM Rational Online Documentation Center.
  • Visit the Rational software area on developerWorks for technical resources and best practices for Rational Software Delivery Platform products.
  • Explore Rational computer-based, Web-based, and instructor-led online courses. Hone your skills and learn more about Rational tools with these courses, which range from introductory to advanced. The courses on this catalog are available for purchase through computer-based training or Web-based training. Some of the "Getting Started" courses are available free of charge.
  • Subscribe to the IBM developerWorks newsletter, a weekly update on the best of developerWorks tutorials, articles, downloads, community activities, webcasts and events.

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