Unicom Unleashes Code Management With Mobile UIs
March 7, 2018 Alex Woodie
Organizations using the IBM i change management and help desk tools from Unicom Global will see some big changes to the products. Thanks to a new mobile-first initiative, users can now access code management functions from smartphones and tablets, in addition to PCs. SoftLanding’s Turnover, Unicom’s change management tool for IBM i, also received some new core features.
Unicom Global announced that it has added new user interfaces to two IBM i products, including Turnover, the change management product originally developed by SoftLanding Systems (which Unicom now runs as a subsidiary), and Expressdesk, a help desk package that provides incident tracking and reporting.
The new UI for Expressdesk, which Unicom created with its own Web development toolkit, enables all end users in an organization to create, update, and track IT incidents from any supported device, including a smartphone, a tablet, or a PC. It also provides a mechanism for employees to view news and updates, like notices of service interruptions or downtime, and to access help functions and knowledge bases, the company says.
The new UI for Turnover was created using the same toolkit, but sports a narrower user base – only those responsible for reviewing and approving the promotion of software changes are allowed to access the product.
SoftLanding Operations Manager Jim Fisher says the changes to Turnover were driven in part by how audit compliance is changing the distribution of responsibilities around software release management.
“[T]he new Turnover interface provides operations staff with an at-a-glance view of project tasks, promotion forms, and developer worklists, all optimized for the device they are working on,” Fisher says in a press release. “Users will be able to review code changes, compare different versions of source code, review and comment on IBM i and non-IBM i items that are being deployed, and approve changes while on the move.”
The ability to approve or deny software changes from one’s smartphone gives software managers an advantage over those who are tied to their desktops, he says. “These tasks can all be carried out while on the move using a mobile phone,” he tells IT Jungle via email.
While an iPhone isn’t an ideal device on which to deeply review RPG or Java source code, there are some source-code viewing capabilities in Turnover’s new interface that should boost productivity, Fisher says.
“Users can compare source members, review, and add form and form line commands before deciding to approve software changes that are ready for promotion,” he says. “This can be particularly useful for operations staff that need to respond to time-critical changes when away from their desk or at a remote location.”
Expectations in the workplace has changed as employees bring their own devices to work and expect to be able to connect them to the corporate network and use them to do their jobs.
“Business users want to be able to interact with their technical colleagues while on the move and companies are keen to help staff become more self-sufficient in order to reduce their reliance on the IT helpdesk function that all too often becomes a bottleneck within the organization,” Fisher says.
It’s been nearly 12 years since Unicom acquired SoftLanding and its flagship Turnover change management software for IBM i. In addition to the new UI, Unicom made several other usability enhancements to Turnover’s Eclipse-based IDE, including improved cross-referencing, better navigation between linked tasks, and the addition of filtering within the change monitor view, the company says.
Expressdesk has been in the Unicom repository a little longer — more than 15 years, according to Fisher, who says Expressdesk interfaces very tightly with Turnover and offers two key interfaces. The first is Expressdesk Helpdesk, which is a full-service IT helpdesk that’s available through the Turnover Eclipse plug-ins. The second is Expressdesk Enterprise, which delivers a browser-based end user self-service experience, which has now been mobile-enabled with the new UI, Fisher says.