BCD Adds Features Throughout App Modernization Suite
April 28, 2009 Dan Burger
Some people would have you believe they just can’t wait until tomorrow because IT technology gets better looking every day. But it’s not the leaps and bounds type of advancements that it’s often made out to be. It’s a process of continual, but gradual, enhancements. Because BCD is trumpeting improvements in its IBM i application modernization suite this week at the COMMON Conference in Reno, Nevada, it makes for a good example.
BCD’s modernization suite includes products that can instantly Web enable 5250 RPG and COBOL applications without coding; develop Web application in either RPG CGI or PHP; and build composite application with added functionality. It also includes the tools to build Web portals, perform Web queries and reports (including executive dashboards), and create an enterprise content management system. Some of these have been available for years and others are new on the scene. The enhancement and integration of these products has been constant, you might say evolutionary. During this gradual process, BCD has built a customer base that has recorded tens of thousands of BCD software installations.
At the top of the enhancement list is the integration of Aldon Lifecycle Manager (ALM) with BCD’s multi-platform Web development environments: WebSmart ILE and WebSmart PHP. ALM brings features that include automated processes and deployment, inventory management, project and compliance reporting, and new levels of visibility into the development process.
Most importantly this will provide IT shops with a defined process, plus the structure and automation to support regulatory compliance and keep projects on track. In addition, it provides a safety net for concurrent development, multiple release management, emergency changes, conflict management and source comparison. With Aldon Lifecycle Manager, processes are established during application development that effectively coordinate development teams regardless of platform, language, or development environment. ALM can also automate after-hours deployment schedules in multi-platform environments and offers roll-back capabilities.
Audit compliance aids, such as automatic historical tracking of all changes and deployments, advanced reporting, security via role-based profiles, and separation of duties features are also built in. There is also cross-referencing capabilities that tie database changes in other applications to WebSmart ILE programs by referencing those files and, therefore, prevent unexpected downtime of critical Web applications.
WebSmart PHP’s built-in change management feature also adds support for FTP, an enhancement that automatically directs new content to make it easier to publish, manage, and organize content on a company Website.
And as long as we’re talking about enhancements, it’s worth mentioning the inclusion of Zend Technologies‘ Zend Core in IBM Power System shipments because that has made it easier to install WebSmart PHP, which runs on top of Zend Core when hosting PHP apps on the IBM i.
Additional BCD product enhancements include the following:
WebSmart ILE, BCD’s rapid Web application development tool, now has support for LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol). This allows connections to LDAP data sources and provides the capability to manage entries in those sources.
WebSmart 8, currently available to existing clients and soon to be generally available, includes new XML functions that simplify XML document processing and parsing. These functions allow an XML document to be opened and parsed into a tree. Elements and their children can be retrieved as can sets and subsets of elements. It also allows users to traverse the document tree. The functions also handle all memory management behind the scenes, so users can focus on writing applications.
The latest version of Nexus Portal, now available to existing clients and soon to be GA, has a Google Search Appliance portlet that provides users with search capabilities to any network drives they index with the Google Appliance. in addition to the documents in the Nexus enterprise content management system. Besides document access from one location, there is also full text searching and search result text previews. Also, Nexus loads and renders pages faster due to code optimization and structural improvements. This version of Nexus Portal also allows documents to be saved and then uploaded to the Nexus ECM on a Windows or Linux server instead of your IFS.
BCD had also brought its rapid green-screen-to-Web enabling tool, Presto, to System i users running on V5R3 and V5R1. Previously it ran strictly on V5R4 and V6R1 (which is also referred to as i 6.1).
Version 1.6 of Clover, BCD’s real-time IBM i Web reporting and querying tool, has added the capability to import query definitions from IBM Query/400. The Query/400 definitions can be output as real-time Web reports, graphs, spreadsheets, or interactive drill-downs with optional prompts and filters. Because Query/400 was widely used during its 20-year run in the IBM AS/400, BCD expects this feature to be very popular among companies with tons of reports defined in Query/400.
Look for more information on a new version of Clover in an upcoming issue of Four Hundred Stuff.
The final product improvement comes in BCD Catapult, a PC and IBM i Client-Server application for automated report and document distribution, which has been rewritten in C#. According to the product gurus at BCD, this has yielded performance increases in the range of 15 times faster in most cases. It has also been redesigned with a user interface comparable to what is found on XP/Vista and a new Grab Rule Editor that improves the process flow when creating new distribution rules.
All of the components in the BCD Modernization Suite, by the way, can be acquired in a bundle or licensed separately.