Midrange Dynamics Expands IBM i and Multi-Platform App Dev Capabilities
November 18, 2014 Dan Burger
Single-platform application development is a weed that won’t be pulled out of the garden. It’s not going away any time soon. But multi-platform development has been increasing and continues to expand–often in individual silos, but increasingly seen in multi-team, cross-platform, unified development environments. The idea that development environments have specific strengths and weaknesses and each has its place if you can manage the integration is not a new idea, but it is more widely acknowledged.
Productivity and integration are the two key ingredients in modern development environments. You’ve probably heard arguments that developers are most productive using tools they’re most familiar using. It’s a good point if you development processes haven’t changed in the past 20 years and you don’t see any point in changing them for the next 20. If, however, you see that change is coming–the reach of your applications and databases beyond IBM midrange servers–your development tools and skills will need a refresh.
It’s apparent from the work at IBM’s Rational division that multi-platform development is a trending technology. Rational Developer for i, built on the Eclipse framework, has been making enhancements in multi-platform capabilities for years. And, more recently, the IBM i vendor community is getting onboard with the idea as well.
Midrange Dynamics, a change management software company, is a good example. It has just rolled out a Rational-validated product called MDOpen, a plug-in to its core change management software, which is called MDCMS.
MDOpen provides a graphical portal to the MDCMS functions that help development teams streamline application lifecycle management tasks, including automated release management and installation on production servers. In addition to RDi compatibility, it can be used with any Eclipse-based platform.
The list of functions this brings to the development team includes workflow management (such as testing sign off); audit capability, including reports suitable for regulatory compliance; rollback from all target locations, and archiving. Along with MDCMS, it raises the bar for change management that can handle both IBM i-native and non-native development. For example, the development team could create a single installation package that includes files and programs to be installed on the IBM i, as well as Java, C++, .NET, and any other type of component to be installed in distributed environments.
MDCMS also enables users to schedule the installation of source and objects off-line based on time zone differentiations. It’s designed so if any piece of the package cannot be installed, MDCMS returns the application to its original state with no time limit on rollbacks.
The process of gaining IBM “Ready for Rational” validation puts the burden of proof on third-party vendors, who must demonstrate their products are compatible with the current version of RDi, which is V7.9.2, as well as future versions. Another important integration factor is the logging of exceptions and managing of threads using the same framework so end users have the same experience regardless of the tool being used (either Rational or Midrange Dynamics). MDOpen also had to demonstrate best practices in regard to such areas as installation and update management of the plug-in, format and location of the help contents, user interface conformance, and serviceability.
“IBM’s Rational Business Development team members offered exemplary support to us during the validation, and we learned a lot from this process,” says Midrange Dynamics managing director Michael Morgan. “We set a goal to demonstrate as many best practices as possible to ensure an optimal user experience for our customers.”
Midrange Dynamics has its headquarters in Switzerland. It sells and supports its application development software and consulting services for IBM i systems with the assistance of business partners around the globe. In North America, it partners with Synergivity Software, which is based in Peterborough, New Hampshire.