Fourth Generation RAMPs up CASE TOOL conversions

Fourth Generation launches RAMP – a conversion process for converting CASE Tool applications to Genero

IIUG Informix™ Conference, Overland Park, KS – April 30, 2008 -– Fourth Generation Software announced today RAMP (Rapid Application Migration Process), a new program which gives companies using legacy character-based IBM® Informix® applications originally built with Fourth Generation’s CASE Tools (and other compatible products) a straight-forward, semi-automated methodology for migrating to a robust and feature-rich graphical user interface.

The RAMP process leverages version 5.2 of Fourth Generation’s Fitrix Visual Development (CASE) Tools and Four Js Genero v2.x development environment. A complete suite of tools assist companies with migration and deployment, using a fully tested methodology supporting phased deployments with mixed character and GUI environments.

‘RAMP has let us convert 400-plus Informix ‘classic’ 4GL applications to Genero over a timeframe that was manageable with respect to our internal development and training resources’ says longtime Fourth Generation customer Bill Marshall of Stober Drives, Maysville, KY, USA.

‘We haven’t found any situation involving CASE-based applications, no matter how customized or sophisticated, where we couldn’t convert the customer’s applications to GUI using this process’ said James White, president of Fourth Generation.

‘This approach leverages existing IT resources and software investments, plus minimizes the training impact and deployment issues’ adds Mike Barnwell, Fourth Generation’s VP of sales and marketing.

Houston We Have No Problems

Migrating even the most complex, mission-critical applications consisting of hundreds or thousands of screens, posting and report programs is no problem for RAMP.

RAMP starts with an analysis to determine how closely applications that were initially built using the CASE Tools adhere to its conventions. Based on the outcome of this analysis, different tools and approaches are employed to externalize application customizations, so that all applications can be regenerated and merged again. Once done, the v5.2 CASE Tools automate 90% of the remaining work to upgrade the character applications to the rich Genero based GUI.

Customers who stayed consistent with CASE conventions generally have very little manual effort, but even software that has been heavily modified by developers that abandoned the  standards can be brought back into compliance enough to gain the benefits of the automated upgrade with significantly less effort than a manual upgrade to Genero.

Breathing New Life into Legacy Applications

Over four years of working closely with Four Js and Genero, Fourth Generation has optimized the interface to conform to the prevailing GUI standards, while at the same time leveraging navigation and application capabilities inherent to CASE-generated applications.

Standard features like zooms, browse screens, hot keys, sticky notes, detail arrays, etc. have all been updated to work properly in the graphical interface and typically require no re-coding to enable them. Other ‘automatic’ capabilities include drag & drop, dockable-configurable toolbars, user-maintained grid controls with resortable/hideable/moveable display columns, and many other GUI features. Character-based ‘mz’ menus can be completely upgraded to work with Fourth Generation’s Visual Menus database-based thin-client menuing, printing and security system.

In addition to the tools’ capabilities, customers that follow RAMP can easily take advantage of Fourth Generation’s new Fitrix Complete Series of fully-customizable and highly scalable ERP application modules. Features like its new Flexible Document Delivery (FDD) system for example, enable customers to choose how documents like invoices, order & shipping acknowledgements, purchase orders, etc. are processed: by email via PDF, by fax server, by regular mail or any of the above based on their or their customer’s preference.

Unlock a Universe of New Capabilities

Now applications can take advantage of a world of new features and capabilities not available with character applications including:

  • Services-Oriented Architecture (SOA) / Web Services
  • Fully Web enabled CASE Applications
  • Support for Java, C++/C#, PHP, XML, App & Web servers
  • Citrix™, Windows™ Terminal Services and VMware™ deployment options
  • Support for Windows™, Linux/UNIX (X11) and Mac clients and servers .

And the best part is that as other new technologies emerge, legacy applications will automatically have access to the new capabilities that these technologies enable. Additionally, as new User Interface standards become popular, Fitrix and Genero will support these providing an easy upgrade path allowing you to retain your software investment.

Evolution, Not Revolution

In addition to the evolutionary access to new technology, RAMP supports time-phased, mixed environment deployment of applications so that legacy character-based apps can still be used as-is, while newly converted graphical applications are rolled out. This ability allows customers to move at whatever pace is comfortable to them. Customers can migrate their formerly character-based applications to GUI using RAMP to support multiple client environments, including Windows, Linux/X and Mac.

‘The process is very straight-forward and we were able to move both standard minimally-customized financial applications as well as our heavily-modified custom ones through the deployment stages, while preserving their mission-critical functionality at all times.’ said Marshall. ‘The learning curve for our developers has been minimal, the CASE Tool and 4GL language have been extended by Genero but are still very familiar. The end users have easily learned the new user interface and the applications are the same.’

Sign Up for a Limited-Time No Charge Analysis

With the announcement of RAMP, Fourth Generation is offering a limited-time, no-charge ‘Level 1’ analysis to companies with legacy Informix CASE Tool applications, to help them determine the steps and effort required to migrate their CASE Tool application to Genero’s GUI.

For more information please visit or contact Mike Barnwell at 1-800-374-6157 extension 4885.

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