Fresche Legacy Automates DDS to DDL Conversions
April 1, 2014 Alex Woodie
IBM i shops that are looking to modernize their database by converting old DDS files to the newer DDL standard may want to check out the latest release of the X-Analysis tool from Fresche Legacy‘s Databorough division. With X-Analysis version 10, the vendor says it has automated much of the work involved with the database modernization process, and will make it easier for IBM i shops to take advantage of the power and extensibility of SQL processing.
For IBM i shops that have made the decision that moving to DDL and the SQE engine are important goals, the new release of X-Analysis–according Fresche Legacy’s vice president of R&D, Garry Ciambella–will now do most of the conversion work for you.
Here’s how the new functions work, as Ciambella explained to IT Jungle last week. For starters, customers can pick which piece of their applications they want to convert to DDL. The big-bang approach, where the entire database is modernized, is not recommended. Perhaps the accounts payable component has performance issues, for example, so a customer may start there.
Before doing the conversion, a customer would use a pre-check function in X-Analysis version 10 to see if that particular application is a good candidate for automated conversion. Not every conversion will go smoothly, and X-Analysis will tell you which ones will. No DDS source is required.
“Beyond that, you basically push another button and it’s going to create your SQL DDL. It’s going to migrate your data,” he says. “It just basically takes care of it for you. And because we have so much information in the X-Analysis repository–because we have metadata on the database–we’re able to generate meaningful column names and tables names based on stuff that’s actually coming out of the application.”
After the code conversion is complete, users can start using their new SQL-powered DB2 for i databases, for one or more parts of their applications. No recompilations are necessary. “You wind up with something that should run faster, that’s modern, that you probably have a lot more security options that can be applied. And it almost happens automatically,” Ciambella says.
It’s a lot easier than hand coding the DDL. “I think people in the IBM i community are looking at database modernization and saying, ‘OK, this is a good thing to do,'” he says. “But unless I have a real good reason to do it–unless I’m really feeling that my performance is not fast enough or if I don’t worry about long column or table names or increased security benefits–it’s a slog to try and do it manually for what you get.”
One thing to be aware of during the database migration process (besides identifying DDS code that isn’t a good candidate for automated transformation, which X-Analysis 10 will tell you) is the presence of what Ciambella calls “garbage data” hidden in your DDS database. “You may have garbage in your data that has difficulty coming through,” he says.
DDS is a little lax on enforcing the kinds of good data standards that the SQL world is used to, he says. “In a packed decimal field, you can put other stuff in there, and with SQL DDL, that’s a constraint that you can’t have garbage there,” he says. “That’s something we’re going to check in a future version.”
Version 10 also brings changes to the rules extraction engine in X-Analysis. Among the product’s (many) features is the capability to extract business rules from RPG, COBOL, and Synon (CA 2E) source code, so they can be documented or implemented somewhere else, perhaps in Java.
The rules extraction engine has been strengthened in various ways with version 10, including the capability to slice and dice the rules, by program, by file, by field, by user interface, and by application area. Version 10 also brings the capability to export the extracted rules in XML and UML formats.
“It’s really a different way to visualize [the business rules] that align better to your business,” Ciambella says. “If you’re extracting business rules just based on a computer program, you’re not necessarily going to be able to take that and map it to a business process, per se. But if you do it from a screen perspective or an application area perspective, you’re able to filter through those and focus in on the cases that are the biggest offenders. The tool allows them to do it very quickly and very efficiently, whereas if you had to do it through analysis, it would probably be an expensive process.”
Potentially complex ERP upgrades can be made simpler with the new analysis inquiry and trend reports that Fresche Legacy included in X-Analysis 10. The company says that a customer upgrade to the latest version 9.3 release of Oracle JD Edwards World ERP system, for example, will be able to easily spot the differences between current releases (including customizations) and the target 9.3 release, or even interim releases and cumulative PTFs. This capability makes upgrades and installation of PTFs more efficient and cost-effective.
These reports will eliminate guesswork and deliver better results during ERP upgrades, Ciambella says. “This release of X-Analysis provides IT organizations and IBM i development managers with a much clearer set of measurable inputs to quantify resource requirements and run development projects,” he says.
This is the first new release of X-Analysis since Fresche Legacy acquired Databorough in August of 2013. X-Analysis was the primary product at Databorough, which launched the product in 1989 as a cross-referencing tool for RPG coders. Over the years, Databorough expanded the product with business rule extraction, Java generation, and code migration capabilities. Today, X-Analysis contains hundreds of internal analytical tables and many hundreds of static analysis and re-engineering programs.
“The breadth and the depth of the tool is really something that, when we were in the M&A process, we were sort of astounded that this sort of thing was out there,” Ciambella says. “It’s an end-to-end solution that, if you’re an IBM i shop, can bring you value on so many levels. It impressed us immensely and it’s why we did the acquisition.”