Flashline promises to cut redundant development

Flashline Inc. Monday announced a new version of its 3-year-old portal-like flagship product that's designed to help companies manage and reuse software assets they built using Web services, Java, .Net, open-source and model-driven development methods.

Flashline 4 features five preconfigured "super-registries," called FlashPacks, to organize a company's software assets, said Charles Stack, CEO and founder of the Cleveland-based company. A FlashPack serves as a central hub where developers can go to evaluate projects their colleagues are working on or have completed in specific development areas, such as Web services, Java or Microsoft Corp.'s .Net.

FlashPacks include XML-based schemata to describe the software assets, sample metadata, reports that measure the usage of the assets and extensions to automatically populate the registry.

The Flashline Registry Advanced Edition introduces a graphical navigator to identify how software assets are related to particular projects and map those relationships between the various projects. Coupled with new assets-in-progress capabilities, the navigator can help reveal similar ongoing development efforts within or among projects, so teams can eliminate redundant work.

To help teams meet their return-on-investment goals, Flashline is adding more comprehensive metrics to allow developers to see actual savings from every group that used a particular component, model or pattern, as opposed to merely showing the savings achieved by the group that created the component.

Other new features include finer-grained role-based security down to the asset level and support for clustering in IBM's WebSphere and BEA Systems Inc.'s WebLogic application servers.

Dale Hite, chief technology officer in the software architecture group at Fidelity National Financial Inc. (FNF) in Jacksonville, Fla., said he's particularly interested in Flashline 4's new ROI calculation capabilities and project hierarchy management enhancements, so that the relationships of components to projects and products can be inherited from one project to the next. About 250 of FNF's geographically dispersed developers use Flashline, which runs on a Linux-based WebLogic server, to collaborate on component-based projects, Hite said.

Rich King, a software engineer at Diebold Inc. in North Canton, Ohio, said his company began using Flashline about a year ago as part of a push toward component-based development of automated teller machine software using Microsoft's .Net tools.

"We wanted to be able to create custom applications in as short a time as possible with the highest quality possible," he said.

John Rymer, an analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc., said Flashline is pushing beyond mere storage, categorization, security and check-in/check-out capabilities in Version 4.

"They're providing some utilities that will help in maintaining, evolving and ultimately promoting much greater reuse of assets," he said.

Flashline 4 will be available at the end of July; pricing starts at $70,000 for 75 users.

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