DDS Conversion Tool Joins Profound’s Web Development Tools
March 15, 2011 Dan Burger
Profound Logic Software has released an integral piece of its native graphical user interface platform built around IBM‘s Rational Open Access. The Profound DDS Conversion Module converts existing DDS source members to native IBM i objects that support a graphical user interface. It does this without relying on the green-screen protocol, a distinguishing factor compared to other application modernization methods. Profound is one of several IBM i ISVs making use of RPG Open Access.
The DDS Conversion Module is an important piece of the Dayton, Ohio, software company’s Profound UI suite of application development tools designed for Web formats. Profound UI was announced in April 2010. Its approach is to use the native object-based architecture found in the IBM i, which allows the business logic to remain in RPG while obtaining the native GUI interface that many RPG programmers have asked IBM to deliver for so long.
Profound’s RPGsp product, by comparison, is a combination of HTML working with RPG. “There was a learning curve for the typical RPG developer,” says Alex Roytman, CEO at Profound Logic. “They are used to seeing things in record formats rather than HTML.”
The DDS Conversion Module comes into play when modernizing green screens–whether adding features or functionality or not.
“The biggest benefit provided by the DDS Conversion Module,” Roytman says, “is in moving forward with future development and in maintaining the applications. If you have a green screen with a GUI on top of it, you have to mess with the character-based interface and see how that propagates to the GUI, so you are maintaining it in two places. When adding new functionality with a refaced app then you have to create a green screen before doing anything else.
“Without DDS conversion, you have 5250 refacing for Web enablement. There is still a dependence on the 5250 for maintenance. It requires going back to the green screen to make changes and the logic gets put on top of the green screen.”
Naturally, new application development projects have to work with the databases on the iSeries and most will reuse the logic in existing applications. And although RPG gets overlooked or wrongly labeled as only a language for back end systems, it is certainly Web capable.
Roytman believes the success of Profound UI will be based on the fact that it simplifies the Web development process by using familiar concepts in combination with a variety of widgets used in customizing screens with graphical elements connected to RPG record formats and fields. He compares the look and feel of his company’s Visual Designer tool to the Microsoft .NET design tool, Visual Studio.
“I always have thought Visual Studio is one of the easiest design tools from a layout standpoint. It’s easy to get around,” he says. “The concepts of our tool are RPG-like, but it looks like Visual Studio in the way the tool box contains controls that can be dragged onto a canvass, properties for each widget, and a listing of record formats. All of our drag and drop elements have the Visual Studio look and feel and the designer screen is very similar to how the app will look.”
Profound Logic has worked with approximately 25 beta sites to fine tune the conversion process. Roytman says much of this time was devoted to increasing the support for DDS keywords.
“We don’t support 100 percent of the DDS keywords,” he says. “But there are keywords that are seldom used or not used at all. If you took your typical display file or the 10 typical display files a given company uses, the chances are pretty good that we’d be supporting all the keywords.”
The entire list of supported keywords is available on the Profound Logic website.
Profound sells its UI modules individually or in packages. Pricing is based on system processor group. A company buying the basic handler and design tool should figure approximately $7,500 for each, or a total of $15,000 if they run on the P05 processor level. The DDS Conversion Module would be priced at $8,000.
For additional information, see the Profound Logic website.