MaddenCo Goes GUI with Tire Store App
March 1, 2011 Alex Woodie
Thirty-two years after rolling out its first COBOL application for the S/34, MaddenCo has introduced its first graphical user interface (GUI) for its IBM i application, the Tire Dealer System. MaddenCo officials say the transition, which was enabled by Seagull Software and its LegaSuite software, went quicker and smoother than expected.
MaddenCo is an Evansville, Indiana, software company whose software has been installed by 160 independent tire dealers at more than 1,500 locations. The COBOL-based TDS suite covers a tire retailer’s needs for functionality such as point-of-sale, warehousing, bar coding, re-treading, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and general ledger. The product scales to support multi-site installations, and is also used to support about 150 MaddenCo companies via the application service provider (ASP) delivery method.
According to a 2009 case study that was recently featured on Seagull’s website, MaddenCo decided in January 2009 to augment its existing 5250 green-screen interface with a modern-looking Web interface. “The green screen works very well, but there is a steep learning curve for new employees who are familiar with modern operating systems,” MaddenCo CEO Kim Angermeier says in the case study. “As a result, when our customers hired new staff, they had to spend a lot of time training them.”
MaddenCo’s goal was to create a GUI that would let TDS users get up to speed as quickly as possible, but without re-writing the entire application. “We just wanted to put a great-looking GUI on top of our system as quickly and easily as possible,” Angermeier says.
The company looked at modernization tools from three vendors, but chose Seagull primarily because “it was the only one that integrated directly with the DDS, rather than just screen scraping our existing system,” Angermeier says. “We made a decision to go with Seagull in March, and we rolled it out on July 1.”
Another aspect of LegaSuite that impressed MaddenCo and Angermeier was the capability to let MaddenCo’s support team design the GUI, not the developers. “In addition, we were really impressed with how easy LegaSuite was to use and how quickly we completed our implementation,” Angermeier says.
Of course, MaddenCo’s 5250 green screen is still available for those among us who prefer the speed of a text-based interface, the simplicity of function keys, or just like the look of green characters, standing tall and proud, against a menacing black background. For those of us who first started using computers after 1980, the GUI will be a blessing.