We are really excited with the launch of SpiraTeam 5.0 this week.
SpiraTeam 5 brings a lot of new features, new design, and also lots of
changes from version 4.2. Over the next few weeks we will be posting a
number of articles to explain the biggest changes. This post discusses
how folders for test cases, test sets, documents and tasks have been
reworked for a more consistent and better customer experience.
Since SpiraTest 1.0 (back in 2007) test case folders were essentially considered a special type of test case. Consequently, a test case folder looked and behaved in a very similar way to a test case. It could have owners, comments, custom properties, and a history of changes made to it. In the main list view, you could position test cases and their folders exactly how you wanted in one long list:
When we added test sets in v3.0 we followed the same scheme, where the test sets and test set folders also were essentially the same artifact (with a folder Yes/No attribute), they both had history, custom properties and comments:
Over the years, having test case / set folders that were essentially a special type of test case / set caused a number of problems though:
Conversely, Tasks and Documents had their own different type of 'folders' in versions v4.x:
These folders acted more like traditional 'containers' that had just a name and hierarchy with no other properties. They were displayed to the left of the main item list and were not filterable and did not ever appear in the main item list.
These folders had their own set of limitations and issues:
So for version 5.0 we took the best of the two approaches and created a new folder system for all of the artifacts in the system using folders (test cases, test sets, documents and tasks), and implemented that consistently for all four parts of the system:
Folders are distinct objects to the artifacts they contain. Folders have a name, a description, and a place in a folder tree, but they have no other properties. They are containers containing artifacts only. This is similar to how folders work in most other systems.
However unlike the old tasks and documents folders, the current child test cases are displayed in the main list view and can be sorted and filtered on just like the artifacts themselves:
So what happened to the old test case and test set folders during the upgrade process?
The old folders will have been removed, replaced with the new simple container equivalent. That does mean that the old artifact data associated with each folder (history, custom properties, comments, etc.) will have been discarded during the upgrade.
The new folders still hold all the same items, and are in the same place in the folder tree. But that is all they do. In a lot of ways they now behave just like Windows Explorer:
There are two major ways where our folders work more consistently with other applications you may be familiar with:
We think this new model is much easier to understand and work with. It's faster and more robust. You can sort any list by any field--no more needing to manually order things.
For most of our customers, the transition should be seamless and quick and brings lots of immediate benefits. Some customers--notably those that made extensive use of the different attributes you could attach to a folder--will want to plan their migration more carefully. We recommend only upgrading to version 5.0 when you have transitioned your 4.2 data to no longer rely on the data attached to a folder.
This was a large architectural change for SpiraTeam but there is more that we can do. Currently the new folder system behaves mostly the same way as an application like Windows Explorer, but not completely. For instance, you can only drag an item into a folder on the left, not onto a folder on the right hand list view.
Over the next few months we hope to roll out refinements to the new model to make the experience more intuitive. Once the new system is as solid and easy to use as possible we may start exploring other ways that list data could be displayed to help your work in SpiraTeam be even faster.
We hope this overview of the changes to folders was helpful. The next post about SpiraTeam 5.0 will discuss improvements to the Instant Messenger.