Do you know your Modernization Project requirements?

You guys start coding, I’ll go find out what they want
You undoubtedly have seen the broadly circulated cartoon with this punch line. It’s funny because for many of us it comes too close to reality of many projects that are done with very poorly defined requirements. You have also probably seen the famous “Tree Swing” cartoon of requirements drift that has floated around for years.  In this cartoon, a collection of improbable variations on a simple tree swing diverge further and further from the client’s desire for an old car tire tied by a rope to a sturdy tree branch.  Here are two of my favorite panels from “Tree Swing”.

treeswing

Does it have to be this way?  Let’s find out. The usual way that requirements are documented begins in a requirements meeting, often the first of so many. Continue reading

Modernizing SCOBOL Programs Part 2: Re-engineering using Blu Age

In Part 1 of this blog series, we discussed the benefits of modernizing SCOBOL requesters, and the challenge of handling programs with extensive business logic..
In this Part 2 installment, we will talk about how to approach these business logic embedded programs via re-engineering and the benefits of using a tool like Blu Age.
Re-engineering using framework

Re-engineering is a better approach to application modernization. Instead of selectively rewriting certain portions of the business logic to fit into a random mix of components (e.g. HTML, Java and JavaScript, etc.), re-engineering advocates redesigning the application from the ground up. By re-engineering, we mean applying a combination of human insight and automation power to migrating business logic (e.g. calculations, business rules)
to a modern technology framework.

Re-engineering wheels

A properly re-engineered application carries many benefits, including:

  • Maintainability
    Creation of code based on the new design blueprint using modern development methodology ensures there are readily available resources and tools for it to be maintained easily.
  • High performance
    Test tools are readily available in Open Source or commercial market to measure and tune applications designed with modern framework.
  • Adaptability
    Once an application has been modernized, there is a good chance that its functions will continue to evolve. Adopting a proper design framework will ensure that the new application will continue to adapt to new requirements and can be enhanced easily.

But the challenge remains the same by taking the re engineering approach: You still need to migrate the business logic in the original programs to the new code. This is where a tool like Blu Age can facilitate the process.

Introducing Blu Age – A Powerful MDA Tool

Firstly, as the saying goes:“There is no free lunch.” If you are looking for a magical “EASY” button, Blu Age is not it. Blu Age is not an automatic translator. It does not make the end product magically for you by your clicking a button. But it is a tool that can help you get the job done more easily and more quickly.

Blu Age is a tool that:

  • Helps you analyze your program source with built-in visual tools and annotation features
  • Enables you to define reusable code patterns to automate intelligent code segment identifications and conversions
  • Extracts the business logic from your code
  • Assists you in transforming the business logic to new code in Java or .NET

Re-engineering

What is Blu Age?

Blu Age is a commercial software re-engineering and modernization tool suite that follows the Model-Driven Architecture (MDA) approach to generating program code from Unified Modeling Language (UML2) diagrams. MDA is a software design approach for the development of software systems. It provides a set of guidelines for the structuring of specifications, which are expressed as models. It a standard that was launched by the Object Management Group (OMG) in 2001. Blu Age provides all of the re-engineering capabilities discussed earlier, and more. All of Blu Age’s power is based on generating and approving human-readable models that Blu Age then converts into modern code.

Re-engineering

In short, you use UML diagrams to design your application in Blu Age, and it generates the application for the targeted framework according to your specifications .

Blu Age Components
Blu Age is a tool suite built on Eclipse and contains modules that address different components of the modernization process.

Re-engineering

Blu Age Reverse Modeling (BRM)
  • It automates the process of reading your original code (e.g. SCOBOL source) and identifying the interesting and necessary business logic that it will then convert into the diagrams of your model.
  • As you interact with BRM, it identifies and extracts business rules, calculations, and business logic into Unified Modeling Language (UML2) models, ready for you to review and approve.
  • Once approved, your models feed Blu Age’s Forward Engineering (BFE) with accurate business logic functional specifications.
Blu Age Forward Engineering (BFE)
  • Blu Age then applies its code-generation capabilities to automatically transform your models into complete, modern, high-quality application code in Java or .Net.
Blue Age Delivery (BDE)
  • This ensures the quality of the code delivered by BFE. BDE operates in a modern continuous integration and testing environment that is consistent with the today’s best software engineering practices

Blu Age re-engineering approach is different from both rewriting and translating. Rewriting is a laborious set of tasks, the success of which depends of learning ad properly applying new computer languages and new software engineering techniques. Blu Age lets you focus on ensuring the right business logic is transferred from your SCOBOL program to the new target platform.

Blu Age also differs markedly form automated translators. Automated translator converts the SCOBOL program wholesale, leaving you to read through unfamiliar modern code to determine whether the translation appears successful.

Blu Age puts you in the driver’s seat to determine the steps in mapping over the business logic, while relieving you of the burden of coding in a new unfamiliar language, or trying to make sense of automatically translated code.

So, how does Blu Age methodology work? Read about it in our next blog:

Modernizing SCOBOL Programs Part 3: Blu Age Methodology

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Feedback please

Do you find this tutorial blog helpful? Let us know what you think, and how we can make it even better. Don’t forget, you can subscribe to our blogs (top right-hand corner of the home page) to get automatic email notification when a new blog is available.

Phil LyPhil Ly is the president and founder of TIC Software, a New York-based company specializing in software and services that integrate NonStop with the latest technologies, including Web Services, .NET and Java. Prior to founding TIC in 1983, Phil worked for Tandem Computer in technical support and software development.

Fix it before it breaks – Modernize now!

Fix_it_logo

Some people may believe in: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Unfortunately, this saying undermines the importance of investing in strategic options with foresight to avoid pending disasters.

A couple of cases in point:

oldpcI started my first job in the 1970’s with an intelligent terminal company called Sycor , which was eventually acquired by Northern Telecomm. In those days, Sycor terminals were used for Source Data Entry (key to disk), and its programming language was called – ironically – TAL for Terminal Application Language. It was an Assembler/Macro like language, which required one to work with registers, memory addresses and screen fields. When Sycor introduced the Sycor 440 machine in 1976, it had a whopping 64K of memory, a 10 MB hard disk, and a COBOL compiler. Surprisingly, I was one of the very few field personnel that knew COBOL at the time. When I asked some of the more senior Sycor analysts about COBOL, their response was: “Why would we need COBOL? Assembler language is faster and uses less memory!” Well, we all know that the world has moved past Sycor TAL and assembler programming languages.

talscreenFast forward to 2001: I was giving a web Enabling workshop to a NonStop customer in Chicago, when one of the senior COBOL programmers raised his hand and asked: “ COBOL works perfectly well for us. Why would we want do any of this web stuff?” That company was later acquired and sadly, they no longer use NonStop. None of the NonStop developers was asked to stay to work in the new IT environment, which was Unix, Java and totally web-based.

Today, the NonStop has a lot of modern technologies available, including support for SQL, web server, Java, Eclipse, SOAP and others. Yet, a lot of users still haven’t taken advantage of some or all of these new technologies. In many cases, they are still developing COBOL applications that use 6530 terminals, Enscribe files and interface with other platforms using FTP. Seriously, it is in your best interest to start considering options to modernize your NonStop environment.

“Why should I be interested in modernizing?”

top3reasons

  • Prevent self-obsolescence
    Working with new technologies will expand your current and future employment opportunities.
  • It could make your job easier
    There are a lot of facilities, tools and utilities available in Java, Apache, SOAP, and other new technologies that are “off-the-shelf” which you can leverage without any coding
  • Build a stronger and more dynamic team
    If you are a manager, adapting new technology will create positive challenges for your current team, and make it easier to hire new staff.

“What should I do?”

learn

  • Make time
    I know that all of us are very busy at work, barely keeping our head above water. I encourage you to check out this blog “Create Time to Change Your Life.”
  • Pick one topic to start
    Any topic: Java, Web Service, Apache, etc. Instead of trying to learn everything about all the modern tools, pick just one thing to start learning. Start slowly but work on it consistently. If you are looking for a recommendation, I would suggest Java. Why? Because it is easy to set up and learn on your desktop, and you can test your programs on the NonStop very easily. In my next blog, I will cover more on Java and NonStop, and the benefits that it offers.
  • Look for free tutorials
    There are many excellent tutorial blogs and YouTube videos available. Here are some examples:

Also, visit our blog (http://www.ticsoftware.com/blog) for an upcoming series of Modernization Tutorial blogs and vides.

do_it_nowDon’t Wait. Start today.

In the history of IT, complacency and shortsightedness usually lead to obsolescence in applications, platforms and people. It may not be “broke” right now, but you can’t afford to wait for it to be broken before you try to fix it. By then, it will be too late.

help-resized-600Need professional service help? Contact TIC Software

If you need help to get started, you can benefit from our Workshops or Quick Start Service. TIC Software is ready to help you modernize your NonStop applications and develop new software solutions. Check out our Modernization Service suite on our web site.

Feedback please

Do you find this tutorial blog helpful? Let us know what you think, and how we can make it even better. Don’t forget, you can subscribe to our blogs (top right-hand corner of this page) to get automatic email notification when a new blog is available.

Phil LyPhil Ly is the president and founder of TIC Software, a New York-based company specializing in software and services that integrate NonStop with the latest technologies, including Web Services, .NET and Java. Prior to founding TIC in 1983, Phil worked for Tandem Computer in technical support and software development.