Announcing extend 9.1

extend 9.1, the latest version of extend, is now available.

As part of our strategic commitment to our important extend ® customer base, Micro Focus announces the availability of extend 9.1.

In extend 9 we brought you enhanced .NET support, improvements to Windows native look and feel, simplified naming for DLLs and shared libraries, plus a new module, Xcentrisity BIS, which simplifies the creation of Web Application Services – and much more. extend 9.1 expands and improves on the major features within extend 9.

Highlights include:

  • With RMNet for extend your ACUCOBOL-GT programs can extract information from a web site or interact with a Web Service using SOAP. RMNet enables you to consume Web Services
  • AcuXDBC® is now available for the 64-bit Windows and there is a standalone installer for both 32- and 64-bit
  • The runtime has been updated to provide support for .NET 4.0

extend 9.1 includes a range of other enhancements and customer-requested improvements. For more details, including information on the value of upgrading to extend 9 and extend 9.1, please visit www.microfocus.com/products/micro-focus-developer/extend.

New customer success features

Discover how CFE Mexico, Synergex and Kaufpark all benefit from Micro Focus technology.

CFE – Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission – needed to quickly and safely integrate all its systems in order to handle the large volume of information available in any part of the country. The company turned to Micro Focus RM/COBOL and Business Information Services to integrate its disparate systems and improve performance and service delivery.

Read more here >>

Product quality and customer satisfaction are of paramount importance for software developer Synergex. It uses Micro Focus DevPartner® BoundsChecker to embed automated error detection solution into its development processes to improve product quality, developer productivity and customer satisfaction.

Read their story here >>

German retail chain Kaufpark faced migrating its business software off of the mainframe, and used Micro Focus tools to move its applications onto Windows. It now enjoys faster and more flexible applications, and 40 percent lower operating costs.

Read the full story here >>

What’s coming up for TestPartner?

You can be part of the latest TestPartner development plans.

As development plans for TestPartner gather pace we want to share what is in the pipeline for TestPartner and its migration path to SilkTest.

So far the basic assessment and conversion technology has been created and October sees the next big step as we put the technology into the hands of key customers for testing, with a plan to start on conversions in early 2012.

Would you like to be part of the exciting next step for TestPartner? If you are interested in having a look at this technology and are willing to help us test it with your TestPartner database and applications, please send an email to Steve Dykstra at steven.dykstra@microfocus.com to register your interest.

In the meantime, here’s the latest update on the status of TestPartner developments: 

  • TestPartner support for IE9 – TestPartner IE9 support is being first introduced in a hot fix: ‘TestPartner 6.3.0 WS 4 HF1’.  This release, currently being uploaded to SupportLine, will enable TestPartner customers to record and play back with IE9. Customers who require IE9 support are encouraged to download and use this hot fix. We also expect to include this support in a full WebSync version soon.
  • SilkTest 2011 – the release of SilkTest 2011 is imminent. This contains support for 64 bit, Silverlight and 3270 based applications. Do please evaluate SilkTest 2011, but keep in mind that SilkTest 2012 is the release we are targeting for TestPartner customers because it includes other key features from TestPartner.
  • TestPartner to SilkTest migration – the TestPartner to SilkTest migration project is making great progress. The migration technology falls is really two technologies: the first for assessing a TestPartner database for convertibility, and the second for doing the actual conversion. The following diagrams illustrate the assessment reports which break down script assets and the objects in TestPartner. 

This report Breaks down assets and scores them for convertibility

 

This report assesses each line of a script

We are excited about the shape that TestPartner is taking and look forward to sharing more news with you soon. If you would like to take part in the testing program, please contact Steve Dykstra at steven.dykstra@microfocus.com

Standing the test of time – part two.

Easy to learn and easy to use, COBOL remains a powerful force in the development and delivery of today’s business applications.

COBOL:  easy to learn, easy to use.

Think about the last gadget you bought, and then think about how you got it to work. Did you put the device to one side while you spent some quality time reading the manual from cover to cover? Or did you rip it out of its packaging and try to start using it straight away?

It’s only natural to want work out how something works ourselves and, let’s face it, most gadgets are fairly easy to figure out.

There’s also the fact that maybe we don’t want to read the manual. Possibly over time we have learnt not to trust manuals, we shy away from technical information and prefer to avoid anything to do with techno-babble.

It’s the same story in the day job. We avoid having to “figure out” technical facts and figures, especially if we just have to stare at it, un-coached. We are drawn to things that make sense without too much effort, that are easy to understand visually and, if they are languages, that are easy to write.

The COBOL computer programming language stated its objective to be ‘easily understood’ a very long time ago. Its authors prescribed its value as part of its name: Business-Oriented. The ideal was that the business community could use this technology to make life easier. Targeting a previously ignored audience was the cornerstone of its success.

COBOL is structured in terms of its layout, and uses active English-derived constructs (ADD is ADD, EQUALS is EQUALS, PERFORM is ‘go and do’ etc.). These tell the reader at a glance what the code is trying to achieve. New Micro Focus employees are shown some COBOL code as part of their induction training and are asked to describe the code sample with two minutes coaching. Everyone succeeds because the language is a naturally intuitive construction that anyone can write.

As anyone can write it, it becomes possible to create low-cost high-availability resource pools to construct applications – with its logical structure leading to a fairly consistent implementation.

Consider defining some data: with COBOL the rules are pretty self-evident and quite explicit. For example, 01 item-a pic 99V999 is a data item ‘item-a’ defined as (a picture) a two-digit number with three decimal places. It is exact, straightforward and easy to pick up.

As anyone can read it the downstream benefits are equally significant. First, it means the resource pool available to work on COBOL systems is conceptually unlimited. There is no barrier to entry for future COBOL programming skills. This means a lot in terms of strategic planning and investment, and in terms of dollars.

Second, if anyone can read it anyone can maintain it. A second generation of programmers can code COBOL and also code in existing COBOL applications they hadn’t originally written. Also non-developers can at least follow the flow where it was necessary: QA staff can assist with code walkthroughs and debugging work, systems administrators can provide appropriate support functions and be more familiar with the applications themselves.

Third, the high legibility of COBOL avoids a major and common pitfall – namely that coders will simply rewrite something they do not understand in their preferred language. COBOL typically passes the comprehension test. As Michael Coughlan of the University of Limerick says, “It’s not a write-only language. You can come back years later and understand the code.”

COBOL became the dominant business language for very good reasons. It evolved as COBOL programmers picked up and added to existing applications, enabled by the fact that the language is easy to understand. “COBOL is one of the few languages written in the last 50 years that’s readable and understandable”, says Mike Gilpin, Analyst at Forrester

More recent language enhancements and modern OO syntax enables managed-code developers to cross boundaries quickly and support COBOL development as the constructs of Object Oriented COBOL will be familiar. Conversely, COBOL programmers need only acquire modest new syntax to consider providing COBOL business functionality as consumable objects.

Whatever the business requirement, COBOL remains one of the lowest-risk and lowest-cost options in terms of application provision, simply because it is easy to gain the skills to develop it.

Gartner Symposium/ITxpo October 16-20

With over 450 sessions, workshops, clinics and roundtables, ITxpo promises new answers to new questions. Discover how you can save $500 on the delegate rate.

Now in its 21st year, Gartner Symposium/ITxpo continues to be a trusted source of IT insight and objective, actionable advice that delivers real business results for CIOs and senior IT leaders. On October 16 – 20, more than 7,500 IT leaders will engage in 450+ sessions, workshops, how-to clinics, roundtables and private analyst meetings covering the hottest topics in IT.

Micro Focus is proud to be a sponsor of Gartner Symposium/ITxpo.  We are hosting a session on Making the Virtual Mainframe a Reality – where one of the world’s leading financial institutions will share their real-world experience of successfully rehosting over 70 business critical applications from the mainframe to a distributed environment. 

As a sponsor we are pleased to extend to you a discounted rate of $3,295 to attend—a $500 savings on the standard rate.

To register, or for more information please contact us at events@microfocus.com

Fraud, Waste, and Abuse…Oh My

Written by Tod Tompkins

On September 14, agencies reported to the administration on the methods they are implementing to respond to President Obama’s June 13 Executive Order (EO), Delivering an Efficient, Effective, and Accountable Government, on, well, how they are becoming more efficient. Items such as requiring secretaries to reduce spending on travel, cars, and publications, as well as doing more bulk purchasing, were key requirements for Vice President Biden as noted during the first Cabinet meeting since the EO was issued. Costco run anyone?

One of the main areas in which agencies are focusing is to recover more than $687 million from 2010 – a good three times more than what was recovered in 2009 – from fraud, waste, and abuse. Some examples, as reported by Federal News Radio, of agency plans include:

  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is requiring state governments to use audits to recover billions of improper Medicaid payments
  • Department of Labor is focusing on improper payments from its unemployment insurance program

Reductions in typical fraud, waste, and abuse – the kind where “bad actors” are intentionally deceiving the government – will clearly help in the federal financial recovery efforts. What about other forms of “waste and abuse,” the kind that is occurring within government, most often unknowingly? Agencies are spending millions – often unnecessarily – on technology modernization programs. There are different approaches available that enable agencies to realize the benefits of new platforms, programming languages, and applications, while still utilizing the installed legacy environments. This specific capability can save the government multi-millions – in the near-term – while laying the groundwork for future technology updates and cost savings.

This is a reality today. Share your ideas via Facebook, Twitter, or commenting on this blog on how the government can help reduce known or unknown waste and abuse, and help the administration reach its goal of delivering an efficient, effective, and accountable government.

Federal Cost Savings – Leave your Mark

Written by Tod Tompkins

The recent debt ceiling debate accentuated and highlighted pressures across government. In every agency, the CIO to CFO to line of business lead is facing the inevitable challenge of significant budget cuts, and planning for the elimination of multiple systems/programs, some of which have been in operation for years…often decades. These executives are inundated with vendors daily trying to sell them the latest “cost savings” solution on the market. However, most of these solutions involve years of requirements building, development, and implementation that result in the agency incurring years of significant upfront costs and decreased net savings in the long term.

Although there is no “silver bullet” to eliminating the trillions of dollars required to get the U.S. out of debt, the federal community – including agencies AND contractors – must take a stand by embracing real, tangible cost savings solutions that can be realized in year one. But how do we work together to reduce the budget effectively and efficiently, while not cutting off critical government services or decreasing performance?

We are aiming to find that answer. By launching a blog series and associated microsite, we are providing a place for government and industry to share ideas, communicate, and engage. On a regular basis, we will post relevant content, news stories, and opinions. Most importantly, we will solicit cost savings ideas from the community at large and post those recommendations that can truly help the government save money in year one. We encourage you to follow this blog and remain active in the discussion – providing your feedback, thoughts, ideas, and comments.

We look forward to communicating with our community through this open dialogue. Please also consider following us on our Facebook and Twitter pages for more up-to-date posts and information.

Thank you in advance for your diligence around the federal cost savings initiative…it is a critical time in the nation’s history and you should be commended for leaving your mark.