Real Highlights of LINC 16.3/16R3

LINC 16.3/16R3 provides many improvements for deployment and operations to all platforms.

Unisys describes LINC 16.3/16R3 as a "stability release." There is a lot ofmuscle in this offering, nonetheless. Since so many of the enhancements apply to allplatforms, looking more deeply at the release could pay dividends. Here are highlights ofLINC 16.3/16R3.

Available on All LINC Platforms

Year 2000. Would you like to test your runtime systems using a future date, forexample, January 2, 2000? You can, using the Debug Date/Time feature. Test your system toprove it works consistently with a new date boundary, any date and time boundary.Non-visible dates, such as those in the database, are not affected. The DebugDate/Time feature is available as an Engineering Interim Fix (EIF) for LINC Release16.2/16R2.

With LINC 16.1/16R1, the DATE.CONVERT command was expanded to include an embeddedcentury format, such as CCYYMMDD. It became apparent that GLB.CENTURY needed to beinitialized before performing date conversions, which could mean adding code.

However, relief is here. GLB.DC-CC is the new century value. An option allows you tochoose this feature instead of GLB.CENTURY. All forms of the DATE.CONVERT commands thatuse GLB.CENTURY are checked by a new LINC conversion report. Impact can be evaluated(printout only) or the logic automatically changed. This conversion report is available asan EIF to LINC releases 16.2 and 16.1.

Further Y2K date conversion features include the ability to use MOVE.DATE with aspecified format, for example CCYYMMDD or MMDDYY, and the ability to specify the start ofthe century for six-digit dates separate from Base Year, the basis for calculatingrelative day numbers.

Architecture Independence. You can deploy LINC runtime systems to eight platforms,including UNIX and Windows NT. Two new features will help to assure even betterplatform-independent functionality.

A new command, INITALIZE; <group>, provides one statement that will causeindividual fields within Group Global Setup Data (GSD) and local Group Setup Data (SD) tobe reset to spaces or zeros, according to their basic type. Two options of the commandallow setting alphanumeric fields of the groups to highest or lowest values (GLB.MAX andGLB.MIN) in the collating sequence. Numeric fields can be set to zeros, or to positive ornegative nines.

Conversion to INITIALIZE is provided. A report will analyze each group. Run the reportonce in inquiry mode. Review the results. Then, run the report again to automaticallychange appropriate MOVEs to INITIALIZE.

In addition, the CHECKER Diagnostic Report can now identify "OverlappingMOVEs." It reports all instances in which the sending and receiving items in the sameMOVE command partially share the same area. That makes fix-up much easier when you deployto a new platform.

GLB.TASK is now available in Report logic on 2200 platforms, just as it is on UNIX andMCP systems. This feature allows a report to store a status value that can be tested bysubsequent reports in the runstream.

Workstation-based Development Benefits. The CASELOAD (CLD) function is reengineeredon the host. Files transferred from LDA are processed by a CASELOAD report, written inLINC, which directly accesses the host development system database (instead of via NOF).Not only is the interface cleaner and faster, but the internal processing is improved byimplementing a "compare and merge" approach for GSDs and data items, rather thanthe current "delete and add."

There can also be multiple, concurrent CASELOAD operations. They can be operated in theforeground, or in batch mode. Conflicting Data Dictionary items will receive a DMA-likechange. Generate Sets (GSE) will be added or changed as necessary, while unreferenced GSEswill not be removed.

Taken together, these Caseload features will have an exceptionally favorable impact onyour LDA-based development. Of course, "your mileage may very" depending uponthe exact nature of your changes. Field experience indicates that representative loadingof full specifications runs roughly twice as fast. Partial loads run as much as six timesfaster. And, generation times improve also. Read on.

Faster LINC Generate Operations. New editing rules reduce processing time in thehost-based development environment, and reduce generation time as well. The philosophy isto mark as little of your LINC specification as possible for regeneration. When editingGSDs and SDs, references to them, such as logic lines, are now marked for re-edit if, andonly if, a vital attribute has actually changed. Vital attributes include LENGTH, EDIT,DECIMALS and a few others.

Generates run quicker because there’s less to do, that is, fewer lines to re-edit.

And More. LINC Profiles can be rebuilt from their data tables. In many cases, it isquicker and easier to rebuild, rather than to do a database recovery. This UNIX LINCfeature has been brought across to MCP and OS 2200 systems.

Data Dictionary enforcement is extended to cover an item declared SAME.AS a dictionaryitem. These could not be fully enforced in the past. It will be useful, for example, wheresimilar data items must have different names, such as multiple date fields on a screen.This also strengthens Data Administrator’s ability to rationalize the dictionary.

The Inquiry User feature is broadened. Users signed on with inquiry-only ChangeIdentifiers can now view virtually all areas of a specification. These include structureoptions, trace settings, pack mappings and others. Menus are tailored to show only validchoices.

Standalone reports can use SENDLIST.STATIC without having the on-line system running.This means Operations will find it more convenient to update static list boxes.

All of these enhancements will be available on all platforms with LINC Release16.3/16R3.

MCP Platforms

Taking Advantage of DMSII and RDB. The operations staff will find these labor- andtime-savers of interest.

ALLOWEDCORE may now be declared for database reorganization. On a structure bystructure basis, specify the amount of sort memory used. Use it with Generate, Configureand Database Management Utility (DMU) operations.

If you are using the Remote Database (RDB) capability of DMS II (SSR 432 minimum), letLINC handle several enhancements for you. FTRapid, ACK Rate, Synchronization RestartInterval, and Delay Audit File Removal can all be specified in LINC and generated for theRDB control file.

In addition, users of SSR 441 and above may take advantage of a new DMS II feature forreorganization. Previously, if LINC’s "No Restart on Reorg" was chosen,recovery (when needed) was from database backup. The new LINC option is called"Offline Reorg." You will still get a fast, unaudited reorganization. However,the reorg can be restarted; there’s no need to use the database dump.

With SSR 441 and LINC 16.3, you can set two new DMS II options, POPULATIONWARN(Population Warning) and POPULATIONINCR (Population Increment). One warns of anapproaching size limit. The other actually changes the size of database areas. Together,these options will reduce unscheduled interruptions due to LIMITERRORs and relax the needto keep populations accurate in LDA models.

Users of DMS II release 45.1, who have also licensed New Plateau, may declare physicalsections for Components, Events, spanning Profiles and Conditional Profiles in theirruntime databases. For the profiles, highest key value(s) must be declared for eachsection. The INDEPENDENTTRANS option must also be used.

Enhanced Operations. Improvements make life easier for the operations staff.Restrictions on use of the Database Modelling feature with the "BNA Gen" systemsare removed. Next, non-ROC and ROC Direct reports can change their own backup disk filedesignation. In addition, LINC supports five-digit mix numbers, as of SSR 442.

Then, the Transfer/Configure process includes an even greater opportunity. Let’sassume you have a base system that is generated and configured on several target systems.The "System Name" and "Database Name" of the target may now bedifferent from the base system. This applies to either the Generate Set or the Configureprocess. You must change the names during the first transfer or configure for each system.

Finally, systems generated with 16.3 use a new HUB interface, "ConnectionLibraries." The HUB mechanism establishes a two-way dialogue between the HUB and theLINC programs. Transaction aborts are detected and serviced immediately, and diagnosticreporting is stronger.

OS 2200 Specifics

On OS 2200 platforms, in addition to generic enhancements above, there is a new optionthat permits more economic use of RDMS disk space. If there is a need for large values, 11through 18 digits, the new alternative uses a "double word" to store the value.Once the option is set, the rest is automatic. Also, for runtime systems and reports, theDebug Trace (DBG) has the option to output all database record buffers and OLTP buffers.In UCS mode, you also have a USERDBG routine with which you can add your own code to theDBG process.

The LINC operations staff for OS 2200 gets many benefits. For one, LINC Runtime isinstalled via SOLAR, rather than COMUS. For another, setting database recovery strategy ismuch more dynamic. Choose between Quicklooks and Deferred Updates without re-generatingthe LINC system.

RDMS performance is enhanced by automatically splitting the main run-time controlstorage area (SA$) for a LINC environment. Each new area holds only those RDMS tables withcompatible page size, volume of data, and concurrency of access. No longer must "onesize fit all." In addition, the LINC background and HUB background runs are operatedusing new standard LINC operator commands. This enhancement also includes commands for theOS 2200 ROC Spooler batch run.

UNIX LINC Details

LINC 16.3 on UNIX now runs on PTX, Solaris and AIX, with more to come. BesidesLINC’s generic enhancements, there are several very potent features.

During database reorganizations, disk space use can be more conservative. A new LINCvariable invokes the UNIX compress/uncompress utility. Another variable specifiesreorganizing one file at a time. Use of the compress option also drastically reduces thelikelihood that file sizes will hit the 2-Gigabyte limit that currently exists on mostUNIX architectures.

In the past, each LINC on UNIX release needed a specific suite of underlying systemsand environmental software. An Object Packaging strategy now allows flexibility forcustomers to install/rebuild LINC with other validated software combinations. With theapplication of a Validation EIF, sites will be able to build on-site with the new softwarecombinations.

During installation of the standard release, users have the option to install thestandard executable programs provided, as in the past. Or, they can choose to bindexecutables during installation together with their required EIFs. Installations of EIFswill trigger rebuild of the executables on-site to ensure binary compatibility. This alsoallows users to customize their own installation package (which includes their installedEIFs) for easy distribution/deployment to multiple hosts and for backup purposes.

LINC 16.3 also allows object code transfer between compatible UNIX machines. Programswon’t need to be re-compiled unconditionally. Just run linc16cfg on the targetside, as usual. Database and OLTP generation, modification of systems options, andbindings of executables will all take place as necessary. One last relief for operations: runsysstop and the STO command will both function identically to accomplish an orderlyshutdown of the system.

Availability

LINC 16.3/16R3 for MCP and OS 2200 platforms began shipment in February. LINC release16.3 on AIX, PTX and Solaris began in July. The SVR4 and UnixWare releases are expected infirst quarter of 1999.

LINC Deployment on Windows NT was first introduced in December 1997. Its 16.3 releaseis scheduled for year-end. It is currently in field test, along with LDA 2.3.

In the Final Analysis

With LINC 16.3/16R3, there are many meaningful enhancements for everyone. In addition,there are powerful improvements for deployment and operations on each platform. It may bea "stability release," but the impact on day-to-day use is significant. LINC16.3/16R3 is worth a good look.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lynn Martin is a LINC and PowerClient Technical Specialist for Unisys Corporation inMalvern, Pa. Contact him at Lynn.Martin@Unisys.Com,or at LINC@Unisys.Com.