Midrange Dynamics’ Change Management Enhancements a Matter of Perspective
February 18, 2014 Dan Burger
A sequel to Escape from Alcatraz, that great old Clint Eastwood movie, is taking shape in IBM midrange shops. It’s called Escape from Green Screens. The plot is still being written and it won’t be done any time soon, but there are more shops using RDi with Remote System Explorer for editing source code. And the new free-form RPG coding is allowing RPG developers to escape green-screen development. A change management system (CMS) that works well in a modern development environment is a big advantage over CMSes that don’t–or no CMS at all.
Midrange Dynamics, for example, is a change management system with IBM i customers developing business logic with RPG and COBOL and connecting to Windows and Unix servers that handle front-end processes developed in PHP, Java, .NET and others, as well as doing managed synchronized deployments.
As application developers move into new development technologies, Michael Morgan, managing director at Midrange Dynamics, believes change management systems must keep in step. The latest effort in that vein is MDCMS version 7.1.2, which allows developers to stay in a single perspective to edit and compile source code in the same way it will compile at deployment time. This capability makes unit testing more reliable, Morgan says. Preferences for specific environment perspectives can be setup, which avoids jumping back and forth to view multiple perspectives. For instance, a developer could use RDi from the MDCMS perspective rather than flipping back and forth between RDi and MDCMS.
“More shops are moving away from standard fixed-format RPG,” Morgan says. “If they want to take advantage by comparing source code, merging source code, and using field-level cross-referencing of free-format code, they will need a tool–the editor is within RDi.”
The editors are an RDi advantage; however, third-party editors also can be used. There is no requirement to have RDi, and MDCMS can be loaded into any flavor of Eclipse.
In addition to the specific Eclipse-based features, the latest release of MDCMS also adds features for all development environments such as cross-systems compare and the capability to view differences in source code before developers grab it, which saves developers time and keystrokes.
Morgan provided a couple of examples: The feature that allows developers to compare and merge source code across systems allows a person working on a development box to be warned when the source code that is checked out is different than the source on the current production box. It will show the differences and allow the developer to merge some or all differences from production into development.
In cases where “fast tests” are being used to quickly get RPG or COBOL changes into production by bypassing standard projects, the CMS alerts developers–when they resume standard projects–if changes were made to source code on the fast test. It points out the differences in the source. This is true even if the fast test was done on a different box.
Another feature added to MDCMS 7.1.2 is a cross reference capability on libraries to identify impacts on a variety of components to ensure these components are changed accordingly. In other words, the CMS is no longer limited to doing the check outs on a single application on a one-at-a-time basis.
Morgan also noted a new feature that is expected to be popular with ISVs that export their changes to their customers that don’t have a change management system. This enhancement allows deployment packages to be exported as custom save files, so they can be easily distributed.
Companies that are already Midrange Dynamics customers and are on software maintenance receive the 7.1.2 upgrade as part of the maintenance package. For organizations that are looking to get their first CMS or transition from an existing CMS, the pricing is based on the number of systems and partitions running IBM i. The company offers MDCMS for small companies with five or fewer users (the only user-based pricing available) for $12,000, which is approximately 20 percent cheaper than its entry-level product price. It also offers product rental agreements that begin with a three-month minimum and can be extended to four years, after which the buyer receives a permanent product license. Maintenance fees are based on 15 percent of the purchase price.
A new release of MDCMS is expected to be generally available before May 1. Synergivity Software is the North American distributor of MDCMS.