DevPartner 7.1


Compuware's DevPartner suite of debugging and analysis tools has a long and illustrious history. The first incarnation of its runtime error detection module, BoundsChecker, was released in 1989 by NuMega Technologies, a company that CompuWare acquired in 1997. You might think that BoundsChecker's ability to detect assignments to null pointers (among other sins) would be a historical relic in the brave new world of .NET managed code. Not so. The transition to managed code will probably take a decade, during which time Windows programmers will be struggling with the complexities of a hybrid managed/unmanaged environment -- both in the Windows OS itself, and in the componentized applications and services they layer on top of it. Instrumenting these very different programming environments, so that developers can analyze, profile, and more effectively debug programs straddling the unmanaged and managed worlds, is big challenge that Compuware's latest offering, DevPartner Studio 7.1, tackles fearlessly. [Full story at]
The point about the long transition to managed code is one of the things that prompted the Lizard brain surgery column. When I talked with the DevPartner folks a year ago, they were feeling bullish about a rapid migration to .NET. When I talked to them more recently, things had settled into a much more gradual pattern, which should surprise no-one.

At a conference recently, The Hartford's James McGovern made a compelling point. He's not worried about creating new apps and services, we've got wizards that crank them out like nobody's business. What keeps McGovern up nights is the difficulty of ever actually retiring any code.

This review also brings to mind a wonderful piece written by Sue Spielman, called Dear mean Debugger. She writes:

The time has come to reevaluate the time we spend together. We've spent hours and hours frolicking at breakpoints, contemplating the meaning of the stack, and chatting into the wee hours of the morning. We've danced, stepped into, and stepped over who knows how many methods and lines of code. As I look back, there is no development tool that could ever take your place in my heart. However, it seems over the last year or two we are spending less and less time with each other. How should I tell you this? My time is now spent with my test cases.
I don't think the handwriting is on the wall, yet, for conventional debuggers. But as things move in that direction, I expect tool suites like Compuware's DevPartner will adapt. The technologies of instrumentation and analysis are potent, and are useful in many different ways.

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