Clearcase Labels

Our project uses Clearcase labels to control versioning in software releases. Development puts the label on files that get changed and need to be sent out to customers. Then configuration management (CM) picks up the files with the labels that development specifies. CM proceeds to use the new files to produce a build. Our project is in maintenance mode. So for the most part, we just change a few files here and there to fix bugs. However this year we added a bunch of new features to the applications. We also upgraded our tools which resulted in a lot of files changing. Development needed to label a lot of files in Clearcase. It was not intuitively obvious how to do this quickly.

Here is the process I normally use to apply labels to changed files in Clearcase. I use Clearcase Type Explorer to create a new label. Then I manually find the changed files using Clearcase Explorer. I get the properties of the file, and click on the Labels tab. At that point I added the label I previously created with Type Explorer. This works fine for a small amount of files. However sometimes we have a lot of files to add.

Previously we had a Java developer on staff who took over our build scripts. In fact he rewrote them using Ant. Part of the build involved putting a label on all the latest files. He figured out how to programmatically label all the files in our project using Ant. Unfortunately this developer has moved on to a new project. So when a current developer needed to label a large directory full of files, he followed in the Java guy’s footsteps and wrote an Ant script to do this.

All of this sounds very strange. I would think it is a common operation to label multiple files in Clearcase. I would hope that the solution is not to label them one by one. And I would also think that IBM does not want every customer to write some custom code to do this automatically. Why can’t I select multiple files in Clearcase Explorer, and apply a label to all of them?

Clearcase Access

IBM provides the Clearcase source control tool as part of the Rational Suite. This product is highly configurable, and perfect for revision control in the enterprise. However some Clearcase policy as demonstrated in the Software Maintenance blog are clearly counterproductive.

Developers make use of different views in the Clearcase environment to work different code sets or version. On bigger projects these views can grow quickly in number. Clearcase administrators need to develop policies to keep the view universe in check. However these policies should be created and enforced to the benefit of the developer user community.

Clearcase is, after all, a tool to be used by software developers. Its purpose is to maintain version control of files. It is meant as an aid to software development. Of course it benefits configuration management as well. However, it must serve its original purpose for it to be put to its best use.

Clearcase Woes

Every time I boot up my computer these days I get an albd server error. This is the first thing that is supposed to run when you start Clearcase. From past experience I know Clearcase Explorer does not work when I get the albd server error. So I manually choose Control Panel in Clearcase. Then I attempt to start Clearcase. For a long time the status is “start pending”. Finally Clearcase is started. So I launch Clearcase Explorer. It comes up so I am feeling better. However when I try to mount a VOB, I get no VOB choices.

This Clearcase has been a headache ever since we switched to using it for source code control. We only do it because our client has standardized on it. Yes I imagine Clearcase is powerful. However I am looking for a solution that works with minimal effort and upkeep from me. My job is not to muck around with Clearcase settings. I am supposed to code new features for our customer, with the occasional debugging of problems in the software we write.

Last time I had Clearcase problems, I went to our local Clearcase guy. He was able to get it working on my machine. However this is not his main job. The right way is to submit a trouble ticket with our client’s help desk. That will take forever. I need my source code control now. So I check out any web pages I can find on the albd server. It seems this process is required for VOBs and views. I could figure that out based on the things not working on my machine.

There is some promise from the IBM Knowledge Collection. They have a whole lot of ideas on how to debug a broke down albd server. The key advice is to check out the logs. So I go to Event Viewer on Windows. I see a whole bunch of Clearcase errors. They fall under to categories: (1) can’t find albd server on a specific host, and (2) can’t find albd. Nice details on that last error description huh? So I guess I need to find out what is wrong with the server that albd cannot find. Too bad that is not a server controlled by our team. I might just have to submit a trouble ticket after all. Bad show Clearcase.