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Tasktop Autumn 2008 and Mylyn - An Interview With Mik Kersten

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Tasktop Autumn 2008 and Mylyn - An Interview With Mik Kersten

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[img_assist|nid=5923|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=100|height=67]Today, Tasktop release the Autumn 2008 version of the tool, adding Linux and Firefox support. I met with Mik Kersten,Tasktop CEO and Eclipse Mylyn project lead to discuss the release and to find out exactly where the line between Tasktop and Mylyn lies.

James Sugrue: We're starting to get the hang of these quarterly releases of Tasktop. What's new in the Autumn 2008 version?

Mik Kersten: Tasktop Autumn 2008 brings the productivity benefits of Tasktop to many more developers by adding support for Linux and Firefox. The release also streamlines collaboration with new features such as calendar event notifications and the ability to send task information outside the team via email.

The new stand-alone Linux version provides desktop access to a team's bug and issue tracker while accurately tracking time spent on each task in Tasktop or other applications. Many Linux users have been asking us for this feature, since they need an automated way to track their time.

Tasktop's new Firefox support offers an alternative to the built-in Internet Explorer-based browser. Firefox users can now install an add-on that connects Firefox to Tasktop. With this add-on, Tasktop will track and show web pages that are relevant to the active task. Re-activating a task in Tasktop will open tabs in Firefox for the most task-relevant pages. This benefits Firefox users because there's no need to bookmark or remember key web pages, and it's easy to switch tasks with a single click.

Sugrue: Where exactly is the distinction between Tasktop and Mylyn?

Kersten: At a high level, Mylyn is an extensible framework for the task-focused interface, whereas Tasktop is a commercially supported tool. The SpringSource Tool Suite is the other example of a commercially supported version of Mylyn, and further extends the task-focused interface to enterprise application development.

In order to quickly evolve Mylyn into a highly extensible framework, we provided exemplary tools that are a reference implementation of the task-focused interface for the Eclipse SDK, and used the Bugzilla integration as a reference implementation of an issue tracker.  With Tasktop, we leverage that framework to integrate with commercial technologies such as Windows, Microsoft Office, Exchange, Google Apps, and the like. We also provide one-click install of closed-source partner connectors such as CollabNet and Rally.  In other words, in addition to the portion of the open source stack that we are able to support with Mylyn, we are supporting an increasingly broad range of the popular vendor-specific technologies that we all use day-to-day.  We are also able to add additional features to Tasktop that we cannot justify adding to Mylyn due to our need to focus on API improvements within the open source project. 

Sugrue: What has the take-up in Tasktop Pro been? Are you finding developers rather stick to Mylyn for their own day- to-day work?

Kersten: While Mylyn will always satisfy the needs of many developers, more and more developers are upgrading to the full Tasktop Pro version to take advantage of the additional productivity features and integration. 
For many, the automated time tracking and reporting provides a lot of value. For others, email and calendar integration are the killer features. Feedback from the user community also shows that more and more people are adopting the task-focused browsing capabilities, which we are extending to Firefox users with the Tasktop Autumn 2008 release.

Sugrue: I saw that you gave a Keynote at W-JAX 2008 in Munich, Germany. Can you summarize the key message from that talk?

Kersten: The next year or two are going to be a time when the economy forces us all to do more with less.  Some teams will shrink, others will need to meet increasing demands with limited resources.  I provided a high level overview of how two technologies have created a transformation in the productivity of the developers who have used them.  The first is the IDE, which has dramatically reduced the friction of working with a disparate set of development tools.  The second is the task-focused interface, which has addressed information overload and made it possible for us to work effectively on very large systems.  The key message is that for those who have not yet integrated their toolset, now is the time.  It was great to see how well received the keynote was, since we’re all now in the same boat of needing to improve our productivity.  If you’re interested in seeing the talk watch my blog for an upcoming post of the recording.

Keep up with Tasktop by visiting  http://www.tasktop.com or Mik's blog

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