IvanDoc Gives IBM i Documentation Tool a Web Interface
September 9, 2014 Alex Woodie
Earlier this year, a Malaysian software company by the name of IvanDoc Software Services completed the first implementation of IvanDoc Documentation, its IBM i cross-referencing and documentation tool that generates HTML output. The company is looking to get traction with IBM i shops around the world as they embark upon application modernization projects.
Documentation tools are indispensable for programmers that need to develop or maintain IBM i applications, especially when they confront an unknown IBM i application that lacks good documentation. Knowing how the internals of an RPG or CL application work and the various dependencies that may exist can mean the difference between getting the job done quickly and fumbling about for days looking for answers.
Like most cross-referencing and documentation tools, IvanDoc Documentation largely automates the process of creating the documentation. You simply point the sharp end of the tool, called IvanDoc System, toward the application objects in the library or to the available source code, hit the “go” button, and the product crawls its way through the various dependencies.
What seems to make IvanDoc Documentation somewhat unique from other tools on the market is the Web interface. Instead of presenting the results of its analysis in a green-screen format, the company makes the answers available as HTML. What’s more, programmers can explore the various technical intricacies of the application by clicking on hyperlinks embedded in the output.
The use of Web pages is meant to simplify the documentation process. IvanDoc Software Services says using HTML hyperlinks to explore an application is “a revolutionary method” that allows programmers and architectures to “build a clear picture” of the application’s architecture. This approach is superior to just reading source code or analyzing object data, it says.
“IvanDoc Documentation functions as the navigation map of the application, guiding him (the developer) over the architecture through the ‘spider-web’ navigation paths while he is being mentally engaged in the software development and modernization of the application,” the company says in its website. “It will improve his productivity by cutting down his dependency on reading the source code and his time spent for gathering and arranging the object data for analysis.”
Chris Chua, the owner of IvanDoc Software Services, describes the genesis of the product and the company. “In 1999, when I was accompanying my wife, who was undergoing a pregnancy ultrasound scan on our baby, our eldest son, Ivan, it dawned on me that there should be a tool that can do a thorough scan on any business application in the AS/400 operating system to automatically generate technical documentation in HTML format so that HTML hyperlinks can be capitalized to cross-refer many various technical documents within the technical documentation,” Chua tells IT Jungle via email.
After struggling to convince other developers to sign on with him or to get help from venture capitalists, Chua decided to strike out on his own. Only after the bank he was working for was acquired by another bank in 2012 did Chua decide to focus on marketing and selling the product.
The company, which is based near Kuala Lumpur, recently completed its first implementation. Here’s what the customer had to say, according to IvanDoc: “The inter-dependencies among the fields and objects in our IBM iSeries applications are well-documented and cross-referenced. The technical documentation helps our team of application developers to conduct impact analysis and troubleshooting of their business applications faster and more effectively. They can estimate their development effort (man-days) more accurately and understand the impacts arising from any changes in their application modules quickly.”
The company currently has some resellers covering Malaysia and Singapore, Chua says. “As the tool is suitable for any company adopting IBM i technology, we are always on the lookout for suitable business partners or distributors worldwide.” For more information see the company’s website at ivandoc.com.