New Features in Serena Software ChangeMan ZMF Client Pack

Screenshot from the latest Eclipse plugin from ChangeMan ZMF v7

In our recent Mainframe Virtual User Group (VUG) meeting, we highlighted the latest features in the ChangeMan ZMF Client Pack. John Skelton, Principal Developer from the ChangeMan ZMF Development team and frequent presenter at VUGs and the annual Serena Software xChange User Conference, stepped the attendees through an overview and an awesome demo of the latest and greatest ZMF Client Pack 7.1.3, which includes the following:

ZMF4ECL (Eclipse plugin):

  • Windows 8 support
  • Large Volume (EAV) support
  • Support for scheduled promotion requests
  • Improved filtering
  • ZDDOPTS – alignment with zDD client and support for RACF groups

zDD (Windows Explorer Interface)

  • Windows 8 support
  • Large Volume (EAV) support
  • Support for scheduled promotion requests
  • ZDDOPTS support for RACF groups

One of the questions that John was asked in the ensuing Q&A session was whether the ZMF Client Pack would honor ISPF customizations (such as changes to panels, panel-exits, etc.). John correctly answered “no.” As ISPF is a client that resides up on the System z mainframe, customizations are limited to that platform.

This brings me to the main point in this blog entry. As discussed in one of my previous posts, our customers are doing more with less, and the user community is expressing the need to facilitate off-platform development and test. Serena remains responsive to these needs. There are two areas that we consistently hear from our customers:

  1. The first is around off-platform development — the Client Pack components do not recognize user-customizations to the ISPF component. What was needed — and what we’ve now provided is functional parity amongst all clients. In other words, all the functions available to the ISPF client should be equally available, regardless of whether the user is in ISPF, Eclipse, Windows, or executing our XML or Web Services. A user should never need to log on to TSO if they do not want to. Thanks to John, and many others on the ZMF and Sernet development teams, we have provided this functional parity as John demonstrated at the last VUG. Yet, we still have the issue of ISPF customizations not recognized outside of ISPF (i.e. Client Pack, Web Services, XML Services, etc.).
  2. The second area is the upgrading from one release of ZMF to another. What sets ZMF apart is its exceptional level of flexibility and ability to tailor to the customer’s environment. This flexibility is accomplished mostly through customizations to ISPF components and, in other cases, user exits. A consequence of this flexibility is that the customizations need to be carried forward when upgrading to a new release, and we do hear this from our customers.

The team is working on a solution that addresses both of these issues. If user-customizations were encapsulated to an area that sits on top of the product, and there is that division between what Serena ships and what the customer “owns”, we have a two-fold benefit:

  1. Customizations that are centralized are then accessible from any client (ISPF, zDD, Eclipse, our callable services).
  2. It also provides a mechanism to lift-and-carry customizations from one release to the next, which renders the notion of managing all of the ISPF skeletons obsolete.

The R&D team is busy in their sandbox working up Pre and Post exit points at every major stop in the ZMF workflow. Additionally, the team is researching ways to encapsulate other customizations outside of the major points in the workflow and are experimenting with a few different options. Not only does this ensure that the clients all follow the same rules, but greatly facilitates product upgrades.

One of the major themes that the team is working on, and one our customers will appreciate, is time-to-value (TTV) and its related elements.  To learn more about this TTV theme and what’s in store for ChangeMan ZMF, join me at xChange13, Serena’s annual user conference in September.  You can still take advantage of Early Bird registration.  Hope to see you!

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