ASC’s Abstract for Operations Navigator GUI

Advanced Systems Concepts (ASC, Schaumburg, Ill.) recently released the successor to Abstract/Probe+, its cross-referencing and documentation system for AS/400. Abstract for Operations Navigator offers the same features as its predecessor, however, the new version is designed to work in conjunction with IBM’s Windows-like Operations Navigator GUI for AS/400. It is one of the first products to take advantage of the plug-in support IBM has made available on the Operations Navigator system.

“IBM has made it fairly clear that Operations Navigator is going to be their Windows front-end for AS/400,” said Chris Wilson, ASC director of programming and operations tools. “As long as that continues to be their strategy, it has to be our strategy, because we don’t want to be sitting here in two years not having recognized that this kind of product was going to be in demand.”

Abstract provides tools for analyzing applications and building a “where-used” cross-reference of system objects. Abstract tracks object and field usage, relationships between objects, file analysis and other reference information. Pop-up menus allow users to edit source, view object usage, recreate file relationships or initiate a number of other options. These functions can be performed through IBM’s AS/400 point-and-click graphical interface or used along with a “green-screen” version of Abstract that mirrors Abstract/Probe+.

According to Wilson, Operations Navigator users have complained that the system lacks some of the functionality of the traditional green screen. The most problematic area in which Operations Navigator is lacking, Wilson says, is in the fact that Ops Nav on its own does not provide any programming tools such as source editing, impact analysis for programming layout, etc. IBM senior software engineer Joe DiCecco says IBM hadn’t intended to include programming functionality in Operations Navigator, but said that for users who require that capability, Abstract is a viable solution.

“We’re working to set up a GUI for the entire OS/400, which is quite a job,” DiCecco says. “Plus we’re bringing in new functions, new wizards that incorporate a GUI from the beginning. We’re not there to provide application development functions. … So what we did instead was, a couple of releases ago, we set up this plug-in support for folks like ASC to come in and offer products to fill in areas we hadn’t planned to address in our development of Ops Nav.”

Wilson explains that Abstract is designed to perform operations that fill in those functional holes for programmers who see a need to make changes to the system.

“We basically tried to make it so if you’re a technical user or a programmer you actually have a reason to go in and use Operations Navigator,” he adds. “Before, if you were a technical user or a programmer you didn’t really have a reason to use Operations Navigator because you couldn’t do the kinds of things you could do with a green-screen interface.”

Abstract for Operations Navigator has begun shipping and ASC is offering special introductory period upgrade incentives for current Abstract/Probe+ sites. It will also make available “competitive upgrades” for users of other AS/400 cross-referencing tools. Further information, including details regarding a free trial offer for the product, can be obtained by visiting ASC’s at (new window).

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