Mainframe And IBM i Share App Dev Testing Tool
November 29, 2017 Dan Burger
The integration of disparate IT systems is on the priority list for many companies aggravated by the duplication of effort and the cost tooling for each development environment. It’s fueled the rise of DevOps and the big picture view emphasizing speed and collaboration. For IT environments that share mainframe and IBM i platforms, we have uncovered software that allows applications written in COBOL, PL/I, EGL, RPG and Assembler to share a single tool for testing programs.
The tool is called XaTester and it’s available through IBM and the company, Xact Consulting, that created it. Xact Consulting is an international consulting firm specializing in program and data conversions and the modernization of mainframe IT systems and environments. It’s based in Denmark.
XaTester allows the virtualization of sub programs, automated execution of tests through scheduling or integration with external build systems, and the generation of Web-based user interfaces that facilitate manual testing as well as user interface-based test automation.
According to IBM’s software announcement 217-419, using XaTester requires no coding skills. Developers, testers, and business users can collaborate on tests that cover many scenarios ranging from a simple test with execution of one program with specified input data and expected output data to a complex test that involves a variety of steps such as retrieving data from Db2, initiating JCL jobs, executing several programs in a sequence, and comparing datasets at the mainframe.
Automated testing has been shown to improve quality, shorten turnaround time, and lower costs. Developers can build and test, while reducing turnaround time (and costs), helping teams to achieve their DevOps goals.
XaTester integration into the application build process, as well as quality management and reporting systems, is accomplished using RESTful APIs. It includes a built-in mechanism to schedule test executions based on time intervals. The results can be automatically emailed to subscribers or directly sent to a quality management system.
One tool reduces the number of technologies needed for staff proficiency. If you have four or five technology approaches, staff proficiency is diluted. It’s a productivity imperative to integrate and unify wherever possible.
Determine how people and technologies interrelate against processes. For example, discover whether multiple development groups are using multiple technologies. Then use the information to integrations that will have the most business impact.
The Eclipse-based XaTester client requires Linux or Microsoft Windows operating systems.
For additional information on XaTester, see IBM’s US Software Announcement 217-419.
XaTester is best suited for mainframe-dominate development environments that include IBM i development to a lesser degree. For development environments that are more IBM i dominant, ARCAD Software has a similar test tool that is part of its ARCAD Pack for i DevOps package that runs on IBM i.
ARCAD Pack for i is IBM’s collaborative change management system that emphasizes multi-platform collaboration. It provides standardized tools and methodologies for managing all sources–including IBM i, z/OS, AIX and other Unix OSes, and all the open systems. It is compatible with existing IBM i source code management tools such as ARCAD-Skipper, Rational Team Concert (RTC), Subversion (SVN) and Git.
The automated deployment of code from test to production is the biggest benefit of the ARCAD Pack. That process includes integrity check prior to deployment, allocation of object, automatic database upgrades, automatic rollback, object management, traceability at the artifact level, and dynamic changes to configuration files.