SoftLanding Repositions TurnOver for Database Conversions
August 19, 2014 Alex Woodie
It’s been a while since we had any product news out of SoftLanding, the developer of the TurnOver change management tool that was acquired by Unicom Global nearly eight years ago. But earlier this month, we were apprised of a new release of TurnOver that introduces functionality in an area of IBM i development that’s starting to get some traction: DDS-to-DDL database conversions.
Undergoing a conversion from the old DDS data type to the newer DDL data type and SQL is not for the faint of heart. The vast majority of IBM i applications were originally developed with the DDS construct in mind, so switching to the DDL data types and the SQE query engine is not something that can be done at a whim. But for those who successfully make the transition, the promise of a more modern and manageable database awaits, along with the prospect of getting another decade or two of use out of a proven RPG or COBOL application.
IBM has offered some technical tips on how to successfully convert form DDS to DDL. While the folks in Rochester would undoubtedly prefer modern SQL to be the standard, Big Blue–forever cautious about upsetting customers–has not made much of a ruckus about the business benefits of taking the SQL route. Some independent software vendors, like TEMBO Technology Lab and Fresche Legacy (which acquired Databorough), have recently started to beat the drum about the need for DDS-to-DDL database conversions, and now we have SoftLanding joining the party, too.
According to Unicom’s division, the new type code conversion functionality in TurnOver will help IBM i developers convert DDS files to the DDL format so they can be used in regular SQL tables. “SQL tables are easy to manage and manipulate and offer greater flexibility around application modernization as developers implement new interfaces for their legacy business systems,” SoftLanding operations manager Jim Fisher says in a press release.
“Because SQL is a popular industry standard used in many different languages and technologies,” Fisher continues, “switching to DDL will also make it easier for the newer generation of developers to work with and maintain database applications. Converting DDS files to DDL is an important step towards future-proofing IBM i applications and it conforms with IBM’s roadmap recommendations for IBM i.”
SoftLanding/Unicom didn’t offer many specifics about the new database conversion functionality in TurnOver. As an application lifecycle management (ALM) and software change management (SCM) tool for IBM i, one would think that TurnOver’s capabilities in the areas of object management, version control, code deployment, quality assurance testing, and issue tracking (not to mention cross-reference and database reorg functionality) could potentially be used in a database conversion project. Undoubtedly we’ll hear more about how TurnOver will help manage a SQL database conversion project.
The new TurnOver release also brings compatibility with the latest fourth-generation languages (4GLs) in use on the platform. That means support for the latest LANSA 4GL environment, version 13.2, which is used in LANSA for IBM i, LANSA for the Web, and Visual LANSA development tools, as well as support for CA‘s latest IBM i 4GL, CA 2E version 8.6. Lastly, SoftLanding/Unicom tells us that TurnOver is compatible with the latest release of IBM’s integrated development environment (IDE), Rational Developer for i (RDi) version 9.1.
It’s unclear what version the new release of TurnOver is, because the company didn’t identify it. The company currently labels its flagship ALM tool “TurnOver for iSeries v100,” a naming convention it adopted in March 2010 after it lost a court battle with an English software company and was forced to remove portions of TurnOver that appeared in versions 5.4 and earlier releases. Unicom/SoftLanding gave customers one year to upgrade to the new TurnOver for iSeries v100 edition, which did not contain the components to which it no longer was legally allowed to distribute.
In addition to the core TurnOver for iSeries v100 product, SoftLanding/Unicom offers several add-on modules, including: TurnOver for LanTurn v100 (which provides LANSA functionality); TurnOver for Over:2E v100 (which provides CA 2E functionality); TurnOver for PDQ v100 (which provides data promotion capabilities;) TurnOver for ProTurn v100 (which provides support for BCD‘s ProGen Plus 4GL tool); and TurnOver for SVN v100 (which supports the open source Apache Subversion code tracking tool). For more information see www.softlanding.com.