SUMMARY - UPDATE on problem tracking software

From: Sue Oemcke (
Date: Tue May 03 1994 - 11:28:27 CDT

I posted this summary about 3 weeks ago. I got a message saying it
wasn't delivered a couple of weeks ago. I have had these messages
previously and they have turned up so I waited til now to resend my
message. For those of you interested in the error message I got
back I have appended it on to the end of this message.

UPDATE on problem tracking software
Quite some time ago I posted an extensive summary on problem
tracking software. I'm now including here what we are actually
using which is described just below and I have
also included a message sent to me by (Mark Duening)
which describes the Razor problem tracking package, not mentioned
in the original summary.

We have found something free which will suit our needs with a little
massaging here and there. For your interest we'll be using tkgnats - sendpr
as the front end. This forces our users to make certain choices which gives
us the info we need from some fairly naive computer users. We've alter the
GUI and a couple of things to get it the way we want it.

The back end someone ( gave us their
system - Xsr. With some alterations we have got it up and running
the way we want it. The good thing about this is that only
priveleged users can run Xsr, thus eliminating problems of all users being
able to read what everyone else has sent in.

We finally settled on a marriage of 2 systems, because it suited our needs

tkgnats is available from harbor.ecn.purdue /pub/tcl/code/tkgnats and
you will need tcl/tk toolkit distribution (avail at -

To obtain xsr please contact Nigel at

Below is a copy of the information Mark sent me on Razor. It
looks very good, we had a demo of it. Unfortunately cost and
a couple of other things lead us to chose the above.


From: (Mark Duening)
Received: by (4.1/3.2.083191-Tower Concepts)
        id AA04771; Tue, 23 Nov 93 14:15:43 EST
Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: bug tracking software (1 of 2)

        I received a copy of your summary to Sun Managers on bug
        tracking software. Our Razor product wasn't listed, but may do
        exactly what you are looking for. Razor provides not only
        problem reporting capabilities, but also file version control
        and build management. We have some customers who use the
        integrated package and others who use just the problem
        reporting tool called Issues. We use the Issues tool here to
        track user requests (which is very similar to what you
        mentioned you want to do).

        A postscript copy of the manual set along with a demo version
        of the software is available via anonymous ftp. I've included
        a press release below and sent a postscript summary sheet in a
        separate message. If you'd like more details, please let me
X-Sun-Data-Type: default
X-Sun-Data-Description: default
X-Sun-Data-Name: Razor_flash
X-Sun-Content-Lines: 160

                                PROBLEM TRACKING

                                   -- RAZOR --

Tower Concepts offers a single integrated tool suite which addresses the
related topics of problem tracking and configuration management, and at an
extremely aggressive price.

Problem Tracking
The heart of the Razor package is a highly configurable problem tracking
system. Locally defined problem forms present themselves on screen as
windows, employing text fields, textedit windows, check boxes, choices etc,
for whatever information is important to your work group. i.e. ...

        - The estimated effort/cost involved
        - Whether the issue is approved for resolution
        - The systems to be affected by the proposed change
        - Which product release it relates to
        - Its priority and phase in schedule
Each new form is automatically numbered and entered into the Razor database.
These forms can then be edited and routed to team members electronically,
avoiding the clumsy paper and homegrown systems that have become the norm
in many companies. Every change to the form is recorded and time stamped
with the user's login name, providing complete accountability for changes.
Approval and signature lists can be configured into the system to make the
package as open or restrictive as each site deems necessary for their process.

File Version Control (Configuration Management)
Using either SCCS or RCS as the underlying mechanism, Razor provides an
intuitive and insightful window interface to all of the standard version
control needs; checking files in/out for edit, parallel development,
reporting changes, viewing differences, browsing, etc. Additionally, Razor
tracks extra information as a team's files evolve over the life of a project,
such as change commentary (prose) and Issue resolution relationships.

Again, through a highly tailorable interface, each group is able to assign
attributes to each file entered into the system. These may define such
things as...

        - the language of the file (C, Ada, FORTRAN, etc)
        - the library or package it relates to
        - which engineers 'own' it
        - the completion state
        - what levels of testing it's passed

The variety and utility of this is completely up to each work group. And
again, all changes are time stamped with the user's commentary and login
name for complete accountability.

Razor can be used to track any files, ASCII and binary. In effect, it can
handle scripts, test drivers, documentation, notes, software development
files, or any other category appropriate for each particular work group.

Release Management
A deliverable software product is typically the culmination and integration
of innumerable changes spread across a wide number of files. Razor provides
an easy mechanism for managing all of this. By defining a 'thread', users
and teams can manage the packages they are generating.

As with all of the tools in the Razor tool suite, these thread definitions
are generated and tracked through a configurable window interface. It is
possible to associate attributes to threads, just as they can be associated
to files managed by the system. There are facilities to easily gather files
from any defined thread into your directory structure, compare different
threads, and even compare different versions of the same thread.

Integration & Reporting
Through a drag and drop interface, users are able to relate their check-in,
check-out, and thread activities to the problem reports in the system. It is
this linkage that provides the greatest power of the package. Both managers
and engineers have direct insight into not only the changes that are being
made, but the issues which are driving them.

Identification of issue relationships is done through a GUI drag-n-drop.
By dragging an icon from the problem reporting tool into the check-out,
check-in, promotion or thread panels, entries are entered into the database
for later tracking and metrics functions. This is an extremely powerful
aspect of the tool suite, since it directly relates engineering actions
to the issues which inspire them.

Power to the Users
All of the information managed during the evolution of issues and the
development of code is maintained in world readable, easily parsed, ASCII
files. Although the tool suite is delivered with a robust set of mechanisms
for querying this database, Tower Concepts recognizes that each site has
unique requirements. Users are encouraged to write their own query
which can be done either through programs, or (more likely) UNIX shell
employing the natural powers of awk, sed, grep, etc. As users develop
query tools, they are encouraged to contact Tower Concepts about possible
inclusion in future releases and thereby becoming fully supported.

The user interface is highly extensible. Each work group can attach programs
and scripts either directly to pull down buttons on the main displays, or
as 'side effects' of the normal action buttons. For example, a work group
could attach a script which sends e-mail each time certain files are checked
out. Another group could automatically run metrics analysis programs on
files as they are checked back in.

E-mail Interface
Users may also interact with Razor via an e-mail interface. Problem report
input, update and queries can all be performed by team members who may
be located remotely. In fact, supplementing Tower Concepts' phone
support, customer problems, questions and suggestions will be handled
using this mechanism. By mailing to, all inputs
will be directly logged into their Razor database and a ticket number
will be automatically returned to the sender for identification and

Additionally, a configurable set of remote users can take advantage of
e-mail to do the standard set of version control activities; check files
in/out for edits, getting read-only copies, etc.

System Requirements
Razor presently runs on Suns running SunOS 4.1.1 and OpenWindows 3.0.
It runs fine on most major window managers, including mwm. It also
executes on Solaris 2.1 in compatability mode.

Razor requires under 5Mb of file server disk space for the operating
software. Storage needs for the customer generated databases will be
installation dependent.

Support for HP's and Motif will be available in January of '94, with
other platforms to quickly follow.

Pricing & Ordering Information
Razor is being offered for $349/floating license, with aggressive
discounting beginning with the sixth seat. Sites interested in
obtaining more than 80 licenses are encouraged to consider a full site
license, which sells for $20,000. Razor is available for immediate

Tower Concepts will be raising the price to $395/floating license on
January 1, 1994. Demo/eval copies of the software and postscript
copies of the documentation set are available by ftp, e-mail, and
surface mail.

-------------------------------- R A Z O R --------------------------- \ \ \
  Tower Concepts, Inc \ \
  103 Sylvan Way ... \ \
  New Hartford, NY 13413 (315) 724-3540 \
------------------------- A Problem Tracking System -----------------------\
                    With Integrated Configuration Management

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Subject: NON-DELIVERY of: SUMMARY - UPDATE on problem tracking software

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This was how it was posted
Subject: SUMMARY - UPDATE on problem tracking software
Date: Fri, 08 Apr 1994 12:28:12 +0930
From: Sue Oemcke <sao>
Reply-To: Sue Oemcke <sao>
Followup-To: junk

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Fri Sep 28 2001 - 23:09:00 CDT