May 2, 2017

From Bug Tracking the Macintosh Way to Helix ALM

Application Lifecycle Management

Let’s start at the end so you learn at least this: we have a new product name and logo for TestTrack. Yes, you read that correctly. TestTrack is now called Helix ALM, and there are similar names for the various ALM modules: Helix RM for requirements management, Helix IM for issue management, and Helix TCM for test case management. Now, don’t despair! I haven’t, and if anyone has emotional equity in TestTrack, it’s me, the father of TestTrack! But the TestTrack (er, Helix ALM) of today is not the same product I released in 1996, and I’ve always been a big proponent of renaming it to something less “Test” focused. Over the years, the descriptive name of the original product had become a detriment to marketing its other capabilities; e.g., requirements management is not “tracking testing.” Also, do you know how many people in education have thought TestTrack was a product they could use to track test scores? Helix ALM is part of the broader Perforce product portfolio. Those of you who were Seapine customers have told us how much you appreciate the seamless integration and consistent look-and-feel across the product line. We share those ideals at Perforce, so getting our brands aligned is one important step on the road to seamlessness. Over time, you will see that the products share more and more of the traits that have made them individually great. Many companies don’t take the time to make their portfolio homogenous. We do.

Logos, like people, evolve.

Products often have an unscripted life of their own. It’s interesting to watch their evolution as they go from baby, to toddler, to awkward teen, and then to become the mature person (or application) you hoped for. TestTrack has followed this arc. When I was writing the original TestTrack back in 1995, I never imagined how much it might evolve over the years. How could I? At the time, the internet was young, browsers were limited, and software development wasn’t very global. True, we considered software complex at that time, but that complexity was as much a function of the languages and technologies of the time as the problems being solved. Today, products are more complex and software may only be one part. Plus, development is distributed across cities, countries, and continents. While I dreamed of building a company around a product that could make a significant impact on software quality, how that product would evolve and the forces that would shape it were unknown.

First logo: 1996

TestTrack: Bug Tracking the Macintosh WayTestTrack 1996 logo

While I was well versed in the popular operating systems of the time when I wrote TestTrack, I was always a Mac guy at heart (a Commodore guy, if we’re talking 6502-based systems). So TestTrack was born on the Mac, and it was “Bug Tracking the Macintosh Way.” The Mac developer market being what it was in 1996 (not so great), I quickly created Windows and web-browser versions of TestTrack. This unique cross-platform market position fueled TestTrack sales, Seapine’s growth, and the evolution of TestTrack. Yes, the logo was primitive at that time, but it was also fun. That bug seemed happy to be tracked by TestTrack. In between the first and second logos, which were used for the application icons, we created more realistic bugs for the marketing material and CD-ROM cases. A few large plastic toy bugs, property of my toddler son, served as the design inspiration.

Second logo: 2001

TestTrack logo, 2001

In 2001, we retired the little green guy, refreshing the bug logo with a more high-tech look based on the red bug. It was the “digital bug” and it remained TestTrack’s logo until 2006, when we introduced the first new module in the TestTrack product family, TestTrack TCM (test case management).With a strong following by quality assurance teams, defining and managing test cases that could result in bugs being found was a natural next step for TestTrack. It also expanded our traceability story beyond change management (work items related to source code changes) to knowing where bugs came from and where the weak points were in an application.

Third logo: 2006

TestTrack logo, 2006

The release of TestTrack TCM required us to rethink the TestTrack logo. We were now building a family of products, and bug tracking was just a part of it. In 2006, the Seapine portfolio also included Surround SCM and QA Wizard Pro, so our rebranding would encompass those products as well. For its part, TestTrack received a slightly abstract treatment leveraging the two capital Ts in the name.

Third logo expansion: 2009

TestTrack ALM logo, 2009

With TestTrack managing testing, bug fixes, feature requests, and code changes, we offered a lot of visibility in middle and end of the development process. However, we couldn’t tell you “why” something was being implemented, whether the testing was truly complete, or whether risks were mitigated. Those were attributes of requirements. If we wanted to offer complete visibility and traceability, we needed to start at the beginning. So in 2009, we added requirements management (RM) to TestTrack, giving us three distinct but fully integrated modules for one complete ALM solution. We created a new logo to market the TestTrack family, using the main TestTrack logo supported by individual logos for requirements management, issue management (bug tracking), and test case management. (Why did we choose the atomic model as the symbol for RM? I’m going to have to research the answer to that question!) We never used the mini logos for the application icons, because TestTrack has always been a single executable with modules enabled by license keys. In other words, you could never just install TestTrack RM and see the weird atom icon.

Fourth logo: 2010

TestTrack logo, 2010

Not much changed with the next logo iteration in 2010. We were launching a new web site and it was high time for a rebrand across the product line. Orange had played itself out as a popular color so it was blue’s turn.

Fifth logo (Helix ALM): 2017

Helix ALM logo, 2017

Which brings us to this year. Seapine is now Perforce and TestTrack ALM is now Helix ALM. The new logo appropriately reflects the concept of a life cycle, and the colors are fresh and modern. The clean design of the new branding also fits neatly into the Perforce portfolio. And, as I noted earlier, the changes to Helix ALM are not just cosmetic. You’ll find it works more seamlessly than ever with the Helix Versioning Engine. The evolution of what started as “Bug Tracking the Macintosh Way”  continues …