Modernizing SCOBOL Programs Part 3: Blu Age Methodology
Updated: Dec 29, 2022
Part 3: Blu Age Methodology
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 Part 2, we talked about how to approach these business logic embedded programs via re-engineering and the benefits of using a tool like Blu Age.
In this Part 3 installment, we will review how one can ensure a successful modernization project by using the Blu Age tool according to its effective methodology.
Blu Age is not just a tool suite. It offers a set of best practice that will facilitate your modernization process. Here is an overview of the Blu Age methodology.
Establish the blueprint
Re-engineering your SCOBOL program is like redesigning your home in a home improvement project. You wouldn’t remodel your home without having your blueprints at hand, just as you wouldn’t re-engineer your SCOBOL program without first building the model that represents it. You specify the new blueprint of your application in UML by using Blu Age’s MagicDraw tool. This specification includes the all the screen and storage data elements, user interaction, screen flow, and process logic. This represents your “vision” of the new final product, which could include some or all of the functions, features and business logic of the original SCOBOL program.
A properly re-engineered application carries many benefits, including:
Maintainability Creation of the 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.
Adaptable 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.
Building a new SCOBOL program model starts with you feeding the SCOBOL program source into the Blu Age tool suite, where it is analyzed, and incorporated into a special knowledge base. One important use of this knowledge base is to help you find repeating patterns of code that you may choose to model, or to ignore and leave behind.
Blu Age’s built-in editor also includes very powerful search and cross reference capability that enables you view code relationship, data attributes, called paragraphs, etc. in multiple windows by clicking on links.
Blu Age can also take the SCOBOL SCREEN SECTION and automatically generate a mock-up version of the user interface in web format. This allows you to visualize the existing user interface, and apply design changes in the process.
Once the knowledge base is initialized, you begin to browse the SCOBOL code, looking for paragraphs that contain valuable business rules, calculations, and other key artifacts you want to preserve. The process of browsing and marking your code as “Keep” or “Ignore” is called annotation.
Blu Age has a built-in capability that facilitates the browsing process and helps you keep track of the progress of your code review of the program. For example, the picture below shows how much of the original program has been reviewed and annotated in the modernization process.
As you identify SCOBOL “keepers”, Blu Age updates the knowledge base to reflect the patterns you identify. The patterns are more than simple text matches. The knowledge base uses artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to help you find other similar code that is similar to a “keeper”, even if it is not identical to your first “keeper.”
This is particularly beneficial because it enables any pattern that you have identified once to be automatically applied to other programs. For example, as we know, many SCOBOL programs were actually “derived” from only a handful of original programs. As you identify and store a paragraph pattern in one SCOBOL program, Blu Age can automatically scan other program sources in the repository and apply the same defined rules to the paragraphs in those programs. This automated process will accelerate your transformation effort dramatically.
Extracting business logic
TransModeling is the point when the “magic” happens. Once patterns have been identified as useful to retain in the modernized system, you can select any particular code segment for Blu Age to generate an equivalent UML2 model from it. You and your business rule and business calculation experts will review the model diagram to ensure that the right rules and calculations have been properly represented and staged for modernized development. You can also modify the model to remove any obsolete logic or to add some enhancements to it. The end result is a complete model of the new application that includes the business logic of the original SCOBOL program that you have decided to keep.
This is the easy part! Once you approve the model developed from your legacy SCOBOL program, Blu Age ingests the model diagram and other information in the knowledge base to produce your modernized code (Java or .Net). The modernized code is now ready for incorporation into the systems engineering build process that is managed by the Blu Age Deliver (BDE) portion of the Blu Age tool suite. You are now on your way to replacing SCOBOL with a state of the art presentation layer, and all business rules and calculations properly located within a modern layered architecture.
Modernizing NonStop applications is a cost effective investment that enables an organization to reduce risk, reduce costs, and to increase agility. Web enabling SCOBOL represents an important part of modernizing an existing Pathway application, as a new GUI will usher a new wave of increased productivity and higher service levels.
Depending on your need and scope, there are different approaches in migrating the UI from green screen to web browser. If your SCOBOL programs include a fair amount of business logic, then you should consider using automated tools to facilitate the modernization process. With Blu Age, you will be able forge ahead to incorporate important business logic of the existing programs into your new programs, using modern language, framework and methodology.
Like any tool, Blu Age can produce the best result only when it is properly used and well managed. Our advice is to start with a Proof of Concept (POC), which will allow you to better understand the project scope and required effort. Also, seek out professional services assistance from Blu Age and their partners like TIC Software and HP Enterprise Services to help you jump start your initiative.
Based on what you learn from your POC, you and your team will now be ready to plan out the rest of the necessary steps to ensure a successful full scale modernization project.
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Phil 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.