Breathe new life into IBM® INFORMIX® 4GL applications

Genero Business Development Language (BDL) is inspired from IBM’s Informix 4GL, providing a modern development environment and patterns for the rapid creation of cross-platform, mission-critical, business applications. Informix 4GL applications can be recompiled with Genero BDL to facilitate the task of modernizing legacy applications.


See also: step-by-step video example

Why ?

Modernize your IBM® Informix® 4GL applications because they deserve it! They are fundamental to your business; too important to disrupt, too costly to rewrite, and packaged applications simply don’t cut it.

With Genero, important applications can be rendered for the 21st century quickly, painlessly and cost effectively.

By modernizing your applications with Genero you will:

  • Save time on needless re-development
  • Protect tens of man years of investment in domain specific development
  • Protect your domain knowledge resources and competitive edge
  • Be ready to adapt applications rapidly to changing market needs and business models
  • Give users the state-of-the-art user interface they deserve
  • Run applications across the desktop, web or smartphone concurrently
  • Improve developer productivity
  • Support industry standard databases including IBM DB2®, Informix and others…
  • Run apps indifferently between Unix®, Linux®, iMac® or Windows® without recompilation

Modernize and re-energize your business !

® IBM, Informix and DB2 are registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corp.
® iMac is a registered trademark of Apple Corps.
® Linux is a registered trademark owned by Linus Torvalds.
® Microsoft and Windows are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.
® UNIX is a registered trademark of The Open Group for the United States and other countries.

Your options

The most valuable investment in any application is human; your developers’ intimate knowledge of your business and their capacity to anticipate market trends is what differentiates you from your rivals. With Genero, you capitalize on that investment and enable developers to fulfill their vision.

Depending on your goals and resources available, you may adopt one of two approaches.

  1. Short term – simply recompile the existing application with Genero and make minor ‘tweeks’ to the user interface. Adopt this approach if you need a solution in a matter of weeks.
  2. Medium-long term – unleash the full power of Genero; add drag and drop, web services, business graphics, and browser styles with a minimum of disruption for maximum effect. Expect a solution in several months.
Short term If you have limited resources and seek a short term solution:

Your application will closely resemble the current one with information organized into screen forms of 25 rows by 80 columns. This is normal; your forms layouts respect the structure of IBM® Informix®  4GL. With a few minor modifications, widgets can be added to embellish the look and feel, but the structural field layout will be the same. The mouse is supported transparently – there is no need to programme anything.

Medium-long term If you have the resources and want to invest in a long term solution.

You want to rethink the ergonomics of your application. When you first developed your application, graphical objects such as folders, date with integrated calendar fields, combo-boxes, radio buttons, tree widgets, GUI concepts like drag and drop, form controllers such as multiple dialogs and browser clients didn’t exist.

Resize tables, sort/hide columns, perform conditional input and display business graphics over the Internet without the need to write code.

The end result will be a state-of-the-art graphical application.

Your plan

Your modernization : I-4GL/D-4GL to Genero

Exploit Cross Platform Widget Sets to the Full

Genero introduces a new way to render screen forms by representing them logically as an XML tree. This method enables the logical abstraction of the user interface from the physical implementation of the client technology. As a result, applications may execute across multiple client technologies and fully exploit the local widget set, whether it be a Windows, Linux, iMac or smartphone platform, using native desktop or web clients.

IBM Informix 4GL compatible

All of the language key words are the same and in many cases a simple recompilation of your I-4GL source code with Genero will still work. But the result will lack panache. To unleash Genero’s power, form definition files and some parts of the code can and should be revisited.

Improve the ergonomics, reduce code length

To enable cross platform support, FORM file layouts will need to be modified. I-4GL FORMs are still supported, but they have limited graphic capabilities. Start with the most commonly used data entry forms first. Less used FORMs can be compiled ‘as is’ to save time.

In I-4GL, application presentation forms part of the business logic. Genero on the other hand, separates business logic from the presentation layer with its XML architecture. As you review the design and ergonomics of your application, you see the opportunities to significantly reduce code length and simplify forms.

The result will be tighter more reliable code that executes faster than ever before.

IBM Informix database support

Through Genero, your application can connect to very early versions of the Informix database through to the very latest. Check with technical support to see if your version is supported.

Language extension with ‘C’ libraries

If you have extended I-4GL with custom ‘C’ libraries, Genero supports that too. The mechanism to integrate ‘C’ libraries differs from that used with I-4GL however. Custom ‘C’ libraries will need to be recompiled and linked as shared libraries to the Genero runtime system (Dynamic Virtual Machine).

Note also that ‘C’ functions that interact with the text terminal, for example via libcurses, will need to be rewritten in BDL.

Generally speaking, using ‘C’ functions in an application impairs its portability and we recommend rewriting as much of this as possible in BDL. Additionally, Genero introduces many new built-in utilities that can be used instead. For example, early versions of I-4GL did not include external file management commands. To work around this shortcoming, ‘C’ functions had to be used and most of the time, are still used. BDL now includes channel commands that can be used to read, write or append data from/to external files.

In summary, ‘C’ functions can be maintained for the first step but you should seriously consider rewriting them as BDL functions to keep your application as portable as possible.

Genero documentation

Genero documentation will be very helpful during the installation of the product and during the migration phase. The documentation includes also a list of new features, which may help you in modifying your application.

Your project

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