Alberta developer offers bridge from legacy Forms to 10g

SAN FRANCISCO – A Calgary-based software developer has created an application that allows enterprises to migrate legacy applications to Java in a tenth of the time it would take them than if they were to manually rewrite code.

CipherSoft Inc., which specializes in conversion applications, announced a new tool at Sun Microsystems Inc.’s JavaOne here this week called Exodus-ADF that allows customers to convert Oracle Corp.’s legacy Forms applications to the Oracle 10g environment.

“(Exodus-ADF) converts Oracle legacy applications into the Application Development Framework environment, which takes advantage of the middleware Oracle is creating. ADF (developers) are creating a development environment where they can move Forms to ADF using Java Server Faces,” said Jennifer McNeill, president and CEO of CipherSoft, who spoke with at the conference show floor.

Java Server Faces (JSF) is a software component that developers can use when building the user interfaces (UI) of their Web applications. This component can be both visual, such as a button or drop down menu, or non-visual, such as a data validator or converter. The main advantage of a component like JSF for developers is that it saves them time because they don’t have to write out lines of code manually. An average application of 250 forms, for example, would take a programmer the equivalent of 65-man years to manually convert to Java whereas with Exodus the project would take six to eight months to complete, McNeill said.

This comes in handy for Ciphersoft’s customers, many of which are Fortune 500 companies and government organizations that are running their applications on an Oracle database.

“Our customers have driving business reasons why they need to get to Java,” said McNeill. “They have multiple databases that they need to have talk to each other.”

McNeill added the need to become more Web-enabled is also driving them to make the migration off of legacy systems.

JSF is one part of what Oracle is calling the next-generation application platform. On Wednesday, Oracle‘s senior vice-president of server technologies development, Thomas Kurian, talked about three trends that are driving application development. Kurian said application developers want to build applications and online services quickly and easily, they want those applications and services to communicate with each other and they want to build “highly-attractive and interactive” user interfaces.

To get that communication piece into next gen apps, organizations are increasingly looking towards SOA and standards to get heterogeneous systems talking to one another.

“The service fabric provides a service-neutral, protocol independent infrastructure that allows services from enterprise applications and legacy applications to be wired together,” said Kurian.

The Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), which is part of Sun’s open SOA platform, allows businesses to coordinate a variety of different services and incorporate them into business processes and human workflows such as documents for approval and document routing, added Kurian.

To that end, Sun on Tuesday announced the latest version of its Java platform, Java Enterprise Edition (EE) 5, which provides easier, faster and more cost-efficient development and increased support for SOA technologies like BPEL and Web Services Interoperability Technology (WSIT).

While vendors like IBM, Oracle and Sun are touting the merits of their SOA technologies as a way for customers to better integrate their applications, experts question if the market is ready for what they’re peddling.

“Vendors always tend to bring them the technology and show them the technology and they try to work backwards,” said Curtis Gittens, software analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group. “The customers are very skeptical about SOA and because of the push of technology they’re thinking it’s very over-hyped.”

Gittens added that while SOA isn’t the “panacea” vendors promoted it as for application integration, it still makes the process easier for businesses.

JavaOne continues until Friday.

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