Collaborator 8.2: New Features

Today marks the launch of Collaborator 8.2, which has a host of new features. Over the next week or so, I will highlight the new features in a little more depth, but for now I want simply to explain them to all of you so that you can start taking advantage of them immediately.

Excel Spreadsheet Review

Collaborator 8.2 includes support for Excel spreadsheet review. With 8.0, we began offering document review. Support for Excel spreadsheet takes that one step further. With this feature, you can compare Excel spreadsheets and quickly identify the differences between them. We make it easy to see what’s been added, what’s been deleted, and what's been changed through highlighted colors. We’ve even made it very easy to view not only the contents of each cell, but also the formulas behind them.

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Why is this important? I’ll explain that in a bit more depth in an upcoming blog post, which will include information on how one of our customers plans to use Excel review. In a nutshell, we've learned from our customers that many teams use Excel to write test plans. This feature allows you to integrate QA into your peer review process in the same way that document review has allowed our Collaborator customers to integrate product management into the peer review process.

Checklists

When I first joined SmartBear last November, a customer requested that we include a checklist feature. In response, I asked for an example of how they would use it – just a simple use case to ensure I was thinking about a checklist the same way they were. Their response was for me to read page 133 of “Best Kept Secrets of Peer Code Review,” a book written by Jason Cohen, the inventor of what would become Collaborator, where he argues for keeping a checklist.

OK then…!

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Collaborator 8.2 allows you to create a checklist and to attach it to a template for use in a review. The idea behind it is to include reminders for reviewers to watch for in the review. You might have a security developer look for certain security issues in the code, for example.

You can make the checklist mandatory or non-mandatory. If mandatory, someone in the review must check off each item in the checklist before it can complete. Whether mandatory or non-mandatory, when someone checks an item, their name, the date, and the time are recorded.

eSignature Compliance

Many of our customers are large companies in regulated industries like aerospace, medical devices, financial institutions, etc.. With Collaborator 8.2, electronic signatures are compliant with most regulation agencies. If a reviewer must “sign” a review, they must first re-enter their user name and password. Once they sign, their name, the date, and the time are all documented.

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Custom Field Mandatory by Phase

This new feature allows you to set the phase by which a mandatory field must be completed. For example, if you want reviewers to add how many hours they worked on a particular set of code before the inspection phase, you can add “Hours worked before Inspection” and set the field to mandatory by Inspection. All reviewers must then complete the mandatory field by that phase in the review before it can move forward.

Further Git and RTC Integrations

Also new in Collaborator 8.2 are several enhancements to our Git and RTC integrations. With Git, we now offer Ensure Reviewed and Ensure Started triggers.

With RTC, we now offer several features that make our integration stronger. These giving you the ability to have multiple Collaborator servers per RTC server, indication of which work item types under which states should trigger generating/updating reviews, and adding a switch to add reviewers to a review from work item assignments.

Database Schema Check

Once in a while, customers run into database corruption issues, and unfortunately, they may run Collaborator for a while with these issues in the background. By running a schema check at startup, Collaborator will detect if there are missing tables or columns. Collaborator will then show and error and stop the server from starting.

Moving Forward

As I mentioned, we’ll have several blog posts expanding on a couple of these features over the next week or so. Check back for more information. Please let us know your thoughts on these new features. And be sure to stop by User Voice to let us know features you would like to see integrated into Collaborator in future releases.

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