Seagull Delivers Major New Release of LegaSuite
October 4, 2011 Alex Woodie
IBM i shops and ISVs that rely on Seagull‘s LegaSuite software to extend and modernize their 5250 applications will see a host of new capabilities in version 6, which the Rocket Software subsidiary announced last week. The new version introduces new reporting, testing and workflow modules; extensive integration with the Eclipse development environment; change management improvements; and a faster new runtime engine. RPG Open Access, which initially was on the drawing board for version 6, was dropped by Seagull due to lackluster customer demand.
LegaSuite version 6 includes a number of new features that had been requested by existing customers over the years, Seagull product manager Greg Mummah tells IT Jungle. “It’s been a while since we did something beneficial, frankly, for our existing customer base,” he says. “Version 6 is about fulfilling the long-term obligations to existing customers. We’ve owed our customers some stuff for a while. I think it’s better to recognize that than try to hide.”
To that end, version 6 includes three brand new modules, including LegaSuite Insight, a new reporting tool based on an existing business intelligence tool owned by parent company Rocket. LegaSuite Insight enables customers to create custom reports, dashboards, and graphs in a variety of formats, including Flash, HTML, Excel, and PDF. This new module replaces the LegaSuite Reporting tool that Seagull launched in 2008.
LegaSuite Workflow is a new business process automation (BPA) tool designed to help Seagull customers automate tasks that would normally require human intervention, such as routing an invoice to multiple people for approval, or sending an email. Developers create workflows within the Eclipse workbench, and the software generates executables.
Any screens created are generated using the same GUI technology that Seagull uses in its JWalk and WinJa components. “They can be integrated seamlessly with other GUI apps you may have built in the past,” Mummah says. “The idea there is that you can take what you have built with our stuff, and start to implement workflow inside the GUI application.” LegaSuite Workflow is not related to the macroflow modeler that it launched in 2010.
The new LegaSuite Test Suite is a completely new piece of software designed to automate the functional testing process for Seagull customers. As organizations create new screens or Web service interfaces with LegaSuite, they test them before rolling them out into production. The folks in the Seagull development lab played around with creating their own functional testing product, and found it was not too hard to do, so the company decided to include it in the product.
Mummah sees the new testing product being used by Seagull’s ISV customer base. “More than one ISV customer has asked me through years … for an alternative to the other products, the Rational products and some of the others, that tend to be overkill for the type of testing that our customers do,” he says. “Maybe they don’t need the 10,000 load balancing tests that others vendors provide. So this is a lower cost alternative to those expensive products that still offers all of the functional testing you need.”
On the Eclipse front, all of the LegaSuite development and design tools now run within the popular Java development environment. While other components ran under Eclipse in the past, this marks the first time that the GUI Builder component (JWalk for 5250 and WinJa for 3270) will run under Eclipse. Gone is the old C++-based Windows GUI development tool; the new one is Java.
The hooks into Eclipse also bring benefits in the area of team development and change management. “Now, when we store project artifacts, everything is in an individual XML file. This is a huge benefit for our customers,” Mummah says. “The way our product was previously structured, they just didn’t integrate very cleanly with change management products, whether that was Aldon or Subversion or anything else. Now, by bringing everything into Eclipse and turning it into XML, we’re able to do that.”
While this release brings some general purpose change management integration, LegaSuite 6 has a special affinity for the Aldon change management tools, which is no great surprise because Aldon is also owned by Rocket. With this release, when a change is made using Aldon’s Lifecycle Manager for IBM i (LMi), it automatically triggers LegaSuite’s internal change management process. This ensures that any updates to IBM i applications and their associated 5250 green screens are immediately applied to the GUI version of the green screen, or the Web service interface (if applicable).
“At the end, you have a report, and the developer can go review change,” Mummah says. “They may need to move some pixels a little to the left or right. The goal is minimize the effort they have to put out in order to maintain our layer on top of that application.”
Seagull has also started its overhaul of the LegaSuite runtime engines, which do the work of capturing the host display data (such as 5250 datastreams) and converting it into a GUI or a Web service. Instead of a different runtime for each platform, Seagull is moving toward a new Java-based engine that can run on any platform. The new runtime will also bring new usage metering functions designed to help Seagull move into the cloud business with LegaSuite.
One piece of technology that didn’t make it into LegaSuite 6 is Rational Open Access: RPG Edition. The company told this newsletter last year that it planned to use RPG Open Access in LegaSuite 6, but customer demand for the new IBM technology was lacking, so no further development with the technology was done.
LegaSuite 6 is primarily targeted at Seagull’s ISV customers. Many of the largest IBM i application developers use JWalk, including Oracle‘s JD Edwards group and WMS vendor Manhattan Associates. Australian construction management system vendor Jobpac has already started using LegaSuite 6. The company’s CEO, Steve Ironside, says he sees “significant value” in the new product, and is looking forward to using it to get more mileage out of its IBM i applications, which are used by 6,000 users.
For more information on LegaSuite 6, see the vendor’s website at www.seagullsw.com.