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The Opportunity to Modernize

November 18, 2008

Could it be that the tide has turned and that at long last the majority of IBM i users are actually  taking concrete steps to modernize their green-screen applications? You'd have to believe that something of that nature is taking place given the number of new and enhanced products that have appeared in the marketplace of late.
 
Why this flurry of activity now? We suspect that the motivation is two-fold. First, the  advent of, and demand for, Web services has spurred enhancements within the existing refacing tool community. Tools such as perennial favorites newlook, from look software, and Seagull's LegaSuite GUI (the new name for J Walk) have been with us for some years now, but they grow in capability and  sophistication with each new release. While IBM's HATS (which now encompasses Webfacing) has also been around for some time, in many ways it's still playing catch-up with the old-timers. All of these "big boys"  seem to have been busily adding capabilities such as the ability to surface existing green-screen functionality as a Web service. In fact so sophisticated have some of these offerings become, that any notion of a green screen is so deeply buried as to be completely invisible.

The second factor relates to the ability of vendors to offer a complete package for their users. Many that previously focused on developing new Web applications are now extending their scope with new "instant enablement" offerings. This almost certainly is in response to users' desire to blend  new applications with their existing apps that neither need nor warrant a rewrite. Lansa did this some time ago by including newlook within Lansa's RAMP package. Now many others have joined the fray.  One of  the latest arrivals is Presto, from WebSmart vendor BCD. It joins Genie, a recent offering from RPGsp  vendor Profound Logic, in the category of "instant" Web enablement. These newcomers join the Zend Bridge, which we blogged about and also wrote an i5 EXTRA article about it a while ago. Not to be left out, longtime IBM i tool vendor ProData is also rumored to be adding a similar product to complement its RSP product. Hmmm, "Presto", "Genie", will ProData call its product "Abracadabra" perhaps? "Poof" would be a good name too but somewhat problematic in some geographies.

Another reason behind this flurry of activity may also be that IBM is making what is generally  referred to as the "WebFacing API" available to more ISVs. One can only hope that all of this activity is not too late and that we can take advantage of the opportunity here. 

Opportunity? Yes, maybe out of these dark economic times there's the chance to see a little light  at the end of the tunnel. And this time maybe it will not be a train, but the dawn of common sense  that we see. We all know that Power Systems running IBM i is the best and most cost-effective darn platform on the  planet. We now have more and better tools to modernize our applications than ever before. It is time to grab the bull by the horns and show our management how we can save them money while bringing their investments into the future! 

Posted November 18, 2008| Permalink

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