|By Neil Ross||
|October 4, 2001 12:00 AM EDT||
Keeping a development project organized and on point is a common issue that Web designers and application developers alike often struggle with.
Managing your development team, their tasks, and the multiple versions of files they're working with are problems that many of us find ourselves scratching our heads over.
With the introduction of Site-spring, Macromedia joins the crusade to bring a little bit of sanity to our day and to help streamline the Web site design and application development processes.
Core Sitespring Management Concepts
Sitespring is an application de-signed to help manage Web development projects. It does this, in part, by fostering communication about that project within the de-velopment team and with the client. We all know that communication within the development team is vital to project success. For this reason Sitespring creates a personal home page for each team member that consists of a My Projects module, a My Tasks module, a My Discussions module, and a My Reports module.
Sitespring allows administrators, project managers, and Web developers to create projects, assign and organize tasks and team members, and participate in project-oriented discussion threads. Each project has its own Project Homepage within Sitespring, and any team member assigned to that project has access to vital project information. Each project consists of project details regarding client information as well as a list of tasks, discussions, team members, and project folders.
Sitespring has a browser-based user interface so it can be accessed from anywhere on your network or from the Web by any registered Sitespring user. Users can log in to their Sitespring home page using their Sitespring username and password.
Sitespring Manages Projects
A Web shop often has several proj- ects going simultaneously. In the past there's always been a question about which project management tool is best suited to help make sense of all of the things going on in these types of projects. Sitespring, which fits into this niche, can make an immediate difference.
With so many development proj-ects running at once, chances are that each team member is working on more than one. Some developers experience problems when they try to shift their focus from one project to another or try to keep track of task and project responsibilities. Commenting within your templates or Web pages helps to alleviate some of this "downtime," but that's another subject altogether.
The My Projects module is used to identify which projects each team member is assigned to. It allows you to see not only which projects you're assigned to, but which have the highest priority along with their current status.
If you click on one of your projects, you'll be able to see a description of the project and project details including all of the team members assigned to that project, project tasks and task status, all project discussions, and more. Each of the project tasks listed shows its own priority status, the name of the individual it's assigned to, and the due dates.
Sitespring also allows for the import and export of project information. A Microsoft Project project plan can be imported into Sitespring. You can also export project or task information in MPX format for Microsoft Project or in comma-separated values (CSV) format for more in-depth tracking and project reporting.
Sitespring Manages Tasks
The ability to track tasks across the full life of a project would be a helpful thing for project managers. So, to ensure that team members know exactly what they're doing and that project managers can stay current with project progress, Sitespring allows for the creation and assignment of tasks. Each project may consist of a number of tasks, each assigned to one or more team members.
Any member of the team is allowed to create and assign tasks. Each task is assigned to a specific team member so that accountability is established. If more than one team member needs to work on a task, that task can be cloned and the second instance assigned to the other team member. Each task is added to the project task list and to the My Tasks module on the assigned team member's home page.
One of the deliverables of most projects is an estimation of time. An estimated time to completion can be assigned to each task. When the task is completed, the actual time should be entered to help project managers determine the efficiency of the project team. Since each task is listed on the project page, its progress and status can be monitored by the team, providing incentive for team members.
Because all tasks related to a project are available to every proj-ect team member, the entire team can monitor task and project progress. This feature also allows them to stay informed regarding what will next appear on their plate.
Sitespring easily integrates its task management features with extensions for Dreamweaver and Dream-weaver UltraDev. The Sitespring Task Panel allows you to log in to Sitespring and to view all projects and tasks that you have open. You can access all of your files, but you can also edit your tasks within the Sitespring Task Panel and refresh for those edits to take effect.
Sitespring Manages Communication
Communication is the key to making sure that all members of the team know where they're supposed to be and when, what task is pushing its deadline, or even that they need to call a client contact. Sitespring works to ensure that the lines of communication are always wide open.
The My Tasks module is one of the ways that Sitespring enhances communication. But Sitespring also keeps you up to date on the ongoing discussion issues by presenting project-centered discussions on your project page. Built just like any other threaded discussion application, Sitespring lets you know what topics are being discussed, who started the thread, and how active it is.
Sitespring also ensures, via e-mail, that you're informed about your assignments. On the setup side you have to tell Sitespring what SMTP server to use, the SMTP port, and so on. The e-mail notification features, task assignment, and project discussions make the project team members more accountable for meeting deadlines and encourage them to keep in touch with each other.
Sitespring also provides for client communication through a project site that allows them to contribute files containing source material to the project. Clients can also view drafts of the work being performed, which keeps them up to date on their project's status.
Because Sitespring 1.0 lacks a project calendar, the Discussions section of the Projects page becomes a great place to post meeting notes, reminders, and directions to after-hours team-building activities.
Sitespring Manages Files
One very cool feature of Sitespring is its transparent versioning. Each project is set up in a shared project folder that Sitespring monitors. Any file that's modified within that shared folder will be versioned. The best thing about this feature is that you as the developer don't have to change your routine. You don't have to open a file to edit through the Sitespring explorer, but can use your same old methods of opening with ColdFusion Studio, Dreamweaver, or Ultradev.
It's as simple as creating a share for access to those folders and enabling File Versioning within Sitespring's Shared Folder Management. Any ongoing changes or updates to files within that share will be tracked by Sitespring's version management. What happens is this: when you enable file versioning for a share, Sitespring automatically creates a "_revisions" folder in the root directory of that share. Then, as you modify and save a file, Sitespring will save the old version of that file to the _revisions folder. A sequential number will be appended to each version of the file so that you can easily step back to the version that you want to restore. If the latest version of a page or application template isn't the greatest, this feature makes it easy to revert to the preferred version.
You can also take a look at the revision history of a file by accessing it through Sitespring's File Explorer. Within the Explorer you can clean up the revision history and clear out any obsolete revision files.
Another helpful feature for developers is the ability to link specific files to tasks. This assures that the file that's updated is the file that was intended.
I recently read Hal Helms's CFDJ article "A Script for Teamwork" (Volume 3, issue 7). Hal talked about his experiences on a "distributed team." Sitespring could have alleviated some of the issues Hal recounted by fostering communication between team members and project managers and allowing client interaction. That interaction and communication helps keep everyone on task and on track.
Though Sitespring is neither a framework nor a development methodology, it's definitely a tool that fits into the concept of development via methodology, task assignment, and version management. In the same issue of CFDJ, Sarge, an old buddy from my Allaire consulting days, discussed the benefits of frameworks and methodologies, and of team specialists, in "Optimal Development Environment: Working Together in CF." Sarge's assertion that "there's no substitute..." for specialists within your development team is supported by Sitespring's task-oriented approach to dividing up project responsibility and accountability.
Because Sitespring is a Web-based application and runs on your development environment, the project development files are accessible through your Web browser wherever you are. There's no check-in/checkout feature, but the task assignment and transparent versioning are great for remote developers. Remember, you can also access your project files by setting up a ColdFusion RDS mapping.
Okay, so where does ColdFusion fit into all of this? The best answer: anywhere. Sitespring and its "Project Sites" are run on Macromedia's JRun server. Thus, when a client interacts with the Project Site or when a development team member logs on to the Sitespring desktop, he or she is using a JRun application that's delivered in JSP pages.
Your Sitespring project folders can be made up of any number of file types. Create a folder in Windows Explorer or by opening up that proj-ect's directory. Your site templates are created within Sitespring's Projects folder rather than under the normal Web root (usually C:\InetPub\WWW Root\projectname).
ColdFusion doesn't interact with the Sitespring product, but as an application developer you'll appreciate the ability to assign and track development tasks and to interact with team members and clients. Many of ColdFusion's most popular development methodologies take a modular approach that encourages developers to work on independent blocks of code that can then be plugged in to the rest of the application.
The Future of Sitespring
The future of Macromedia seems bright, even in such an uncertain market. Many of us were really excited when we heard about the merger of Allaire and Macromedia simply because the upside of the mixture of the front-end and back-end technologies would lead to a more integrated design and development process. With the addition of Sitespring, we have a way to track and manage the activities that are involved in our projects on both sides of the process.
When I asked how Sitespring works into Macromedia's long-term strategy, Macromedia officials said, "We see Sitespring as a product that can help bring together the diverse workflow of all of the team members involved in delivering incredible Web applications. As such, you can expect us to improve the workflow between the tools themselves (e.g., how Flash and CF and Java and graphics folks tools interact) as well as with Sitespring as a common team production management platform."
That said, I think we can look for improvements to some of theŠhow did I put it?..."clunky" features of Sitespring, and the addition of some features that didn't make it into version 1.0. Like the much-needed project calendar.
I went into the writing of this article not knowing much about Macromedia Sitespring. I'd heard a bit of the hype, but had been too busy with a development project to stop and look at the product. After a period of some weeks I've become a believer. Yeah, it's only a version 1.0 product, but the potential is definitely there. I realize how useful a product like Sitespring could have been on several past projects, and how much time I could have saved through its version control and discussion features.
I've heard people in my office who've tried Sitespring say things like, "I can see where it might be good for a large development project, but it's not a good solution for the type of work we do around here." Au contraire, mon ami! Whether you're developing a brochure-ware type of Web site or a full-blown enterprise application or doing ad hoc updates to various files on an existing Web site, Sitespring can help.
To Macromedia's credit, Sitespring is built so you don't have to be a technical genius to figure it out. It takes advantage of an easy-to-use browser interface for almost all its interaction with project files, team members, and clients. Sitespring's inline help and Flash tutorials are a great place to start learning more about this product and how you can use it to your advantage.
"We have a tagline - "Power in the API Economy." What that means is everything that is built in applications and connected applications is done through APIs," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at Akana, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 1, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 888
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Jul. 1, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,087
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
Jul. 1, 2015 02:21 PM EDT Reads: 686
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
Jul. 1, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,261
To many people, IoT is a buzzword whose value is not understood. Many people think IoT is all about wearables and home automation. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed some incredible game-changing use cases and how they are transforming industries like agriculture, manufacturing, health care, and smart cities. He will discuss cool technologies like smart dust, robotics, smart labels, and much more. Prepare to be blown away with a glimpse of the future.
Jul. 1, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 810
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.
Jul. 1, 2015 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,149
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
Jul. 1, 2015 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,957
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context wi...
Jul. 1, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 957
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BMC delivers software solutions that help IT transform digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive business advantage. BMC has worked with thousands of leading companies to create and deliver powerful IT management services. From mainframe to cloud to mobile, BMC pairs high-speed digital innovation with robust IT industrialization – allowing customers to provide amazing user experiences with optimized IT per...
Jun. 29, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,717
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
Jun. 29, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,201
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will addresses this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Jun. 29, 2015 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,554
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a "Make or Buy" decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud business applications and services across multiple cloud delivery models.
Jun. 28, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,254
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
Jun. 27, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,268
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fillin...
Jun. 26, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,264
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...
Jun. 26, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,137
Converging digital disruptions is creating a major sea change - Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the network connection of People, Process, Data and Things, fueled by Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Security, and it represents a $19Trillion value-at-stake over the next 10 years. In her keynote at @ThingsExpo, Manjula Talreja, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, discussed IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike. She will share what businesses must do to thrive in the IoE economy, citing examples from several industry sectors.
Jun. 25, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,041
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discussed the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit for the EMC Federation.
Jun. 25, 2015 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,201
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "Second Containers & Microservices Conference" will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA, and the “Third Containers & Microservices Conference” will take place June 7-9, 2016, at Javits Center in New York City. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
Jun. 22, 2015 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,850
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "First Containers & Microservices Conference" will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. The “Second Containers & Microservices Conference” will take place November 3-5, 2015, at Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
Jun. 20, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,914
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
Jun. 15, 2015 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 4,171