Partner TechTip: Simplify Your Field Expansion Projects

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Get ready for your 2011 development projects.


Remember the "good old days" when all we had to worry about was a simple "new-century problem" known as Y2K? Many companies rolled up their sleeves, dug in, and handled that project with fixes: rebuilding, recompiling, and re?creating code.

Project Backlog

What kind of field expansion projects are you facing in the coming months and years? Do you have projects in the queue with numeric fields—like customer number, product number, or currencies—you need to expand? Do you want to know the impact of these changes before you start? Would you like to automate these projects? The ABSTRACT Conversion Utility (ACU) is the tool for you. The ACU is an ABSTRACT add-on that focuses on the two major issues of field expansion projects: analyzing the impact and automating the conversion.

Impact Analysis

The ACU Impact Analysis module uses online inquiries and reports to show both the scope and impact of changes. The information includes high?level summary statistics, project cost estimates, and details about each line of source code (CMD, DDS, RPG, RPG ILE, and CL) that must be changed. This analysis uses the cross?reference database, package defaults, and conversion attributes for each field to determine the scope and impact of changes. It analyzes the source code to identify all program-defined work fields that must be expanded.


When an impact analysis is complete, you can print the Impact Analysis reports or review the information online (see Figure 1). There are three types of reports and inquiries:


  • Field/Members Where Used
  • Member/Fields Used
  • Project Costs—The estimates for programmer resource requirements and programmer costs are based on impact analysis data and user-defined cost factors. They reflect the cost of completing the conversion without using the ACU.



Figure 1: The Impact Analysis report shows changes, by member, for each line of source code. (Click images to enlarge.)

Automated Conversion

Conversion is where the ACU really pays for itself—by eliminating weeks or months of manual effort.


The ACU Conversion module automatically converts existing source code. It expands field references when converting applications and creates new source code members based on the existing source code and the conversion attributes you select. You can expand each field using global or field-specific conversion attributes. And when the conversion is complete, the ACU automatically creates new files, rebuilds file relationships, and recompiles programs. Meanwhile, the data from existing databases is converted to new formats, as needed.


During the conversion process, no changes are made to existing source code members—only to the members copied by the ACU or your change management system. The ACU converts RPG, ILE RPG, CL, DDS, internally described record layouts, and command definitions. After the conversion, you can review all of the changes before you recompile. ACU inserts CU (or your choice of characters) in positions 3 and 4 of every line of converted source code so you can easily track any changes. You can even retain original source code as comments for a good "before and after" view (see Figure 2).



Figure 2: This screen shot shows DDS source code changes with original source line commented out (CU).


The ACU automates and simplifies the tasks of re-creating file relationships, recompiling programs, and converting data. It also re-creates physical files, associated logical files, and database or device files that reference converted files using REF or REFFLD keywords. Current data, file attributes, physical/logical structure, and journaling are all preserved. And the files are compiled into a new library, leaving the original library unchanged. Any programs dependent on the converted files are recompiled. If an error occurs while a file is being compiled, the physical and logical files are restored to their original status. Data from original files is mapped into a new database containing expanded date fields.

Integrate with Change Management Packages

The ACU has seamless links to Aldon CMS and MKS Integrity, two leading change-management software packages for IBM i servers. The ACU tells the change management software what source to modify during the conversion process, and the software copies the source into a development library and starts an ACU function to convert it. When the ACU finishes, the change-management software automatically re-creates all object relationships and recompiles the programs. When testing is complete, the change management software promotes the new source code and objects into production and starts an ACU function to expand production data to the new format.

Try the ABSTRACT Conversion Utility

Instead of taking weeks or months, the ACU can complete your field expansion projects in a day or two. Try the ABSTRACT Conversion Utility for a faster, easier, more efficient IBM i development environment. Click here for a free ABSTRACT Information Kit.

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