LANSA Refreshes Data Services Layer for i/OS and .NET
June 8, 2010 Alex Woodie
LANSA last week unveiled a new version of Open for .NET, its development and runtime tool designed to simplify .NET programmers’ access i/OS objects and data without requiring i/OS skills. With Open for .NET version 3, LANSA has made it easier to model existing i/OS resources for integration with Windows applications. Version 3 also gives the Windows application more access to System i servers, including the capability to issue commands and start i/OS programs.
LANSA Open for .NET was first released nearly two years ago as a way to streamline the integration of i/OS and .NET applications. The software–which consists of a class library for Microsoft Visual Studio and a scaled-down version of the full LANSA development repository that can exist on the Windows or IBM i/OS server–requires System i shops to load their RPG- or COBOL-based business processes into the repository. Once that’s done, LANSA can perform its 4GL magic and create, basically, a custom-developed Visual Basic.NET or C#.NET connector for specific i/OS processes.
The product aims to eliminate the drudgery of re-keying and re-coding from i/OS into Windows. Instead of trying to recreate business rules that already exist on the i/OS server, such as address validation or credit check routines, the developers simply call the Open for .NET class library, which does the dirty work of establishing a secure, record-level connection to DB2/400, accessing the necessary i/OS objects, and then feeding the results back to the Windows application.
This approach not only avoids the need to re-key or re-code programs, it also bypasses other integration techniques, such as using ODBC, database replication, or complex APIs. Another benefit is data stays cleaner and more reliable, since RPG and COBOL programs remain in charge of data validation processes.
With Open for .NET version 3, LANSA has added two new components: the Repository Explorer and Data Model Explorer. These products work together to provide more insight into existing i/OS-based business processes, and help to extract more useful-.NET-use of these processes.
The Repository Explorer allows .NET developers to connect to an i/OS server and inspect the objects defined in the LANSA Repository. It also allows them to view the data contained in DB2/400 databases tables. This feature is nice to have, but is not nearly as powerful as Data Model Editor.
The Data Model Editor allows .NET developers to construct a data model for their applications within Visual Studio using the DB2/400 tables defined in the LANSA Repository. According to LANSA, these data models can be constructed by simply dragging an object from the Repository Explorer into the Data Model Editor. Once the data model has been saved, the software automatically generates the .NET classes, as well as the methods that will access the DB2/400 data from the .NET application. It’s as easy as that.
Another advantage of the two new tools is it allows users who don’t have Microsoft’s Visual Studio IDE to still create .NET data models of the i/OS data. This is done using the standalone versions of these tools, the vendor says.
Greater interaction between i/OS and Windows applications is another feature of version 3. LANSA says version 3 gives .NET developers access to native i/OS server objects, which enables them to issue operating system commands and start programs, inspect spooled files, and access i/OS data queues. LANSA says this heightened level of interaction will allow mixed-platform companies to utilize the best of both worlds to deliver real-time integrated solutions to meet business requirements.
For more information on LANSA Open for .NET, see the vendor’s Web site at www.lansa.com.