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It is with great pleasure that we announce the pending arrival of Test Design Studio 3, and the following is a glimpse of what is to come:

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A New Focus

Those who have been using Test Design Studio for a while know that the idea of what would be TDS 3 has shifted over time.  Our initial goal was to take TDS into the future with an entirely rebuilt user-interface and re-architected back-end services.  That undertaking proved to be bigger and more complicated than expected, and resulted in one delay after another.  As time wore on and we analyzed each part of the system, we realized what we already had was pretty great.  The passion and commitment to build a first-class editing experience for QuickTest Professional code authors was prevalent throughout, and could not be ignored.  Instead of making our loyal fans wait any longer for the new release, we decided to refocus our efforts on bringing the already great application forward into the expectations of today.

We started with the user interface.  While purely aesthetic, the appearance of an application is something that impacts every user during every moment they are using the software.  The moment the TDS splash screen goes away, you are presented with a clean and modern UI.  Gradient effects of yester-year have been replaced with a flat and clean appearance that result in fewer visual distractions and improved focus on your work.

What came next was a tremendous effort that, had we not told you, you may never have known.  We refactored our code.  A lot of code!  Test Design Studio was first built in the age of .NET Framework 1.1, and the .NET Framework has seen significant improvements since.  Design choices that had to be made based on the limitations of the early .NET Framework were no longer necessary.  There was functionality written for TDS v1.0 that had exceeded its relevancy or had eventually gone in a different direction through the iterations of our software.  We looked at everything with fresh eyes and adjusted the design as needed.  Even many of the rewritten subsystems for the new design were incorporated into the existing design where possible.  What was the result?  The code is now cleaner and more structured.  This translates to easier debugging, reduced maintenance, eradication of many existing bugs, and increased confidence to make changes without introducing regressions.

A New Integration

Perhaps the largest user-facing difference in this release over prior releases is a change to how we integrate with HP Quality Center or Application Lifecycle Management (ALM).  Many would be surprised to know that TDS 2.5 still fully works with Mercury TestDirector 8.0!  It is easy to forget that TestDirector did not support the single authentication point we have today.  A user switching projects would have to exit their current project, select a new project, and login again with potentially different credentials.  The server- and project-centric integration design within TDS was based on that original functionality from TestDirector.  As TestDirector changed names to Quality Center and beyond, we continued to support the previous versions while tweaking our integrations to support their evolved systems.  One such change was the authentication model shift which occurred in Quality Center 9.0.  While moving TDS forward, those decisions from the past and desire for backwards compatibility still influenced our integration.

Since use of those legacy systems has sunset, we have reached a point where no supported version of Quality Center or ALM requires that older design.  Today, we are happy to announce that TDS 3 has refocused and streamlined your integration with Quality Center and ALM into a single connection dialog.

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You no longer have to step through the Connection Wizard to define a server and configure your account.  Instead, you are presented with a simple authentication window that is familiar to how other tools also integrate with ALM.  Changing ALM servers is now as easy as just changing your connection.  File references which are stored by TDS will still note the server from which they originated, but will always use the current server connection.  What hasn’t changed is the ability to interact with multiple projects after connecting to the server.  While ALM integrations like that found in Unified Functional Testing require you to build a connection to an individual project, TDS will still independently manage individual connections so that you can simultaneously work with content from multiple projects.

Even with our changes, we still maintain a high degree of backward compatibility and are happy to continue support for Quality Center 10 and all versions of Application Lifecycle Management.

Continuing with the theme of refocusing our efforts, this release of TDS will remove some functionality related to ALM that was not core to this product.  Test Design Studio has always been about coding tests.  It’s right there in the name.  Yet over time, the software became bloated with features related to ALM administration.  Most of this functionality required Site Administrator access in ALM which was managed through a completely separate API.  Other features, like interacting with ALM workflow scripts, required changing parameters on the server that could impact the security of your system.  To put TDS on a new track of growth and evolution, we had to leave those administrative features behind and focus our integration on that which was necessary for strong test design.

A New Commitment

Our new commitment starts with an admission.  Our choice to execute a complete rebuild of Test Design Studio was wrong.  While our hearts were in the right place and we had the right goal in mind, we simply charted the wrong path.  We still believe in that future for TDS, but will use a more iterative approach to get there.  A new plan has already been put in place to make that happen, and it starts with more frequent application updates.  In this new day of continuous improvement, we are letting go of the idea of a “major release”.  Instead of holding back new features in an effort to group them into a major release, we will release those features as they are ready.  Our goal is to provide a new release of TDS every 4-6 months.  The first release of a new year will receive a major version number increase, while subsequent releases that year will receive a minor version number increase.  TDS 3.0 will be released very soon and followed later this year by TDS 3.1 or even TDS 3.2.  Next year will bring TDS 4.0, 4.1, and so on.  Customers will receive these new releases at no additional charge as part of their ongoing maintenance agreement.  As needed, maintenance releases will be provided between release cycles to address issues that might arise in the software.

All these years of working on the rebuild of TDS are not in vain.  We still have that code and are very pleased with the results of what we have built so far.  Much of that work has already made its way into TDS 3.0, and more will be integrated over time.  Each new release of TDS will bring us one step closer to the future we always imagined.  We are committed to this product and look forward to the journey ahead.

A New Invitation

We want to thank all of our many devoted users of TDS who have shared their ideas and experiences with us over the years.  We build this software for you, not for ourselves.  Your voice has a direct impact on the software we develop and put into your hands, and we want to hear your ideas.  Don’t leave us guessing about how you want to use the software.  Your exact individual feedback will be directly read by every person working on this software and not simply aggregated into metrics or reports.  You have a real opportunity to directly influence a piece of software you use every day and further improve your own productivity.

And now, we would like to invite you to try out the Technology Preview of TDS 3.0.  The pre-release is currently invite-only, so please contact us if you are interested in evaluating the software.  It has been too long since a major release of Test Design Studio, and we are anxious to step into this new era.  You can install TDS 3.0 on the same machine as TDS 2.5, so you can evaluate the pre-release while continuing to use the last official release.

The foundation has been set to continue to iterate on TDS and carry it into the future.  The new journey begins now with the technology preview, and we hope you will join us.