Sunday, April 22, 2007

Issue tracking with Gemini

In this blog I would like to mention some tools that I'm using, and that have helped me a lot. One of them is Gemini. We did issue tracking before with an Excel spreadsheet. But with growing number of team members that needed (simultanious) access to the issues, the spreadsheet way of working began to create a countereffect ...

After some searching on the internet I found Gemini (2.0.5 at the time), whose features look very attracting. Among the latetst version (2.1.1.) the following feature are available:

  • ASP.NET (2.0) web application running on IIS (v5, v6 or v7)
  • SQL Server database back-end (SQL Server 7, 2000, 2005 or MSDE)
  • Time-tracking (when you really want to ...)
  • Source control integration (Visual SourceSafe works perfectly, CVSNT integration and SubVersion adapter are available also)
  • Configurable email alert templates
  • Custom fields support (i.e. define additional fields for issues)
  • Personal issue filters (create your own view on the issue list trough a filter and save it the filter for later usage)
  • Gemini API – event/listener model (create your own extensions, we did not need them!)
  • Automatic project road map and change logs
  • Customisable issue type and priority (we extended the default types with ToBeTested)
  • Controlled anonymous user access
  • Flexible reporting – based upon XML/XSL
  • Export to Microsoft Excel
  • Issue linking across projects
  • Unicode support
  • Windows and web forms authentication (no need to log in when used on intranet)

One of the best things I liked was the ability to test with the free version for a reasonble amount of time (like forever) with a only few limitations. In the meanwhile our team has grown over the 10 user limit restriction and we have bought the product since it serves it's purpose very well. And that for only € 440, which gives you the abaility to use Gemini with unlimited users and on an internet-facing server!

These features combined with the financial aspect, convinced me to give it a try. Therefore I grabbed an old machine with a clean Windows XP installation. The machine specifications where not typically high end, with it's Intel Pentium III running at 800 MHz and 512 MB of RAM. Only installing takes a lot of time, but using the Gemini application has no noticable delays running on this hardware!

How to get up and running with Gemini on this machine (quickly may not be the right word, since 800 MHz is not lightning fast ...):

  • Install Windows XP, including IIS and with all the latest SP's and windows updates
  • Install Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0
  • Install SQL Server 2005 Express edition
  • Create a dedicated user account for Gemini which is allowed access to Gemini database within SQL Server.
  • Install Gemini
  • Adjust the web.config for customizing the following settings:
    - Database connection string
    - SMTP configuration
    - Set the Gemini URL, needed for emails being sent so that they implement the correct URL.
    - Set the DateFormat to EU
    - Set the authentication mode to Windows (instead of Forms) when using on an intranet.
    - Optional registration information

Additional (optional) steps:

  • In case you want to create the database and tables yourself, this is possible. See the documentation.Run IIS lockdown tool
  • Enable port 80 (HTTP WebServer) within the windows firewall.
  • Gemini supports Web Services Enhancements (WSE) 3.0. Certain web methods will require
    WSE to be installed on your web server in order to operate.

Last thing that I should really mention is the Gemini ScreenCapture application. This application allows a tester to quickly take a screenshot of the screen/window/user defined region and attach it to an existing issue. Before submitting it, the tester can something on the screenshot annotate with a pencil. This is really a cool feature that our testes use a lot.

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