Archive for Modernization

CA 2E Modernization – One Step at a Time Conquering the Modernization Mountain

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Lao Tzu

The push to modernize has made people believe they have to leap from the base to the top of the IBM i modernization mountain.  At the basecamp, you find you can’t deliver on key business requirements.  The framework simply won’t get you there.  So, you are motivated to climb.  Some possible approaches include:

  1. Rewriting the application in Java, .Net or PHP
  2. Replacing the application with a commercial applications
  3. Migrating the code using automated tools
  4. Rewriting the user interface with a modern html/css/javascript front-end
  5. Utilizing a screen scraper to modify the existing user interface into a modern html/css/Javascript front end.

They’re each viable options.  But every one of them comes with some good and bad characteristics.  In truth, there is no silver bullet.  But it doesn’t have to be as daunting as it looks.  The mountain can be scaled in steps.  At CM First, we have found this the most cost-effective and business-effective approach.

Ideally, you will want your entire application to be migrated to CA Plex because then you can reap significant benefits.  From atop this new mountain, the development ‘vista’ includes:

  • Cross-platform code generation
  • A customizable web front-end
  • Mobile app generation from existing code
  • Simple web services implementation

But the CA Plex move is another huge leap; not everyone is equipped to scale the mountain in this way.  Moving to CA Plex is the right move, but, by planning a simpler course, you can get where you want to be with lower risk and less cost.


First migrate application to the web with Web Option.    Web Option is tightly integrated with 2E and is a flexible approach to web-enable your screens to give you a strong corporate web presence.  Any CA 2E programmer can generate web pages/applications with Web Option with no additional skills needed.  Then, having achieved one key goal, you can begin to  migrate the model to CA Plex.  The final leg of the journey will bring you to the summit where you can build full-feature web and mobile applications with CA Plex and CM WebClient.  Prevent altitude sickness for your users and developers by taking a measured approach to modernization.


Take a New Look At Web Option

Seeking to move your CA 2E business applications from the green screen to the web? Web Option can make that much easier with its seamless integration with CA 2E. This integration provides the framework on which to develop a highly usable and good looking web application using primarily your CA 2E skills. Even better, you can accomplish the move in phases. You will find the development workflow almost identical to the way you work with CA 2E now.

Modernize in Phases

The first phase of the conversion process is ‘just in time’ screen conversion; once the Web Option server is running, the application can be converted automatically. Web Option provides rules that allow you to have control over the look and feel of the pages.

The second phase creates HTML skeletons from each of the screens in the application. This conversion can be completed screen by screen or as a batch job on a group of screens. You input the rules that define the company brand and get screens with the look and feel that matches your brand. The screens are generated with a uniform look and interface, but you always have the opportunity to customize individual screen elements. During this process, you can also integrate Javascript to provide additional interactive capability to elements, such as providing date pickers or rich text editors. You can even integrate with Dojo, JQuery or other Javascript libraries to extend the capabilities further.

The third phase is optional. You might already have the great looking application you desire from phase two. In the third phase, you can start refactoring the screen navigation so that the screens flow as true web applications as a user engages with them. The scripting language that comes with Web Option remembers parameters and flow-through screens without having to display every screen in the flow.

Simple Maintenance

One of the great strengths of Web Option is that its close integration with 2E removes the issues with double maintenance that other web-facing products suffer from. It follows much the same flow that you are used to from working with CA 2E. You can readily make changes to the action diagram or screen. For example, if you want to add a new field to a screen, all you need to do is regenerate the screen, just as you would do to generate new RPG or COBOL code. Instead of using a ‘J’ to generate it, you’ll use an ‘H’ to generate the HTML. All your formatting and customization is preserved. That’s it!

New Web Option Training

CM First has developed a Web Option class to provide developers with a solid foundation on how to develop applications. The class demonstrates the set-up, configuration and the ‘just in time’ pages then shows you how to customize the page skeletons and integrate Javascript and CSS. By the time a developer completes this course, he or she will have a great understanding of the basics of web development with Web Option.

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