New Java-Based App Dev Tool Provides GUI for Green Screens

Map Editor provides a Java-based, GUI-equipped development environment aimed at coders who need to design, create and maintain big-iron apps on open systems.

Application developers facing green screens have a new tool to consider that might make dealing with mainframe software a little easier. Clerity Solutions' newly released Map Editor provides a Java-based, GUI-equipped development environment aimed at coders who need to design, create and maintain big-iron apps on open systems.

Released this week, Clerity's Map Editor is intended to free developers from the need to write or change underlying green-screen assembly code, said Shwetank Srivastava, the company's vice president of product development and services. Instead, they manipulate green-screen attributes through the tool's Java-based graphical user interface (GUI).

Providing a visual environment effectively eliminates the need for mainframe programming skills, Srivastava said. The Map Editor's Java-based point-and-click approach provides an alternative that preserves interfaces and avoids end-user retraining after a mainframe migration to modern, distributed platforms, she said. Map Editor is also designed to help new developers working on application modernization projects to move their apps to SOA environments or to the .NET Framework.

"Green screen" refers, of course, to the user interface on IBM's 3270 terminals, first deployed in the early 1970s. Big Blue stopped making the monochromatic displays years ago, but the 3270 protocol, which supports the data stream between a display system control unit and a host computer, is still in use via terminal emulation to access some mainframe applications.

The Clerity Map Editor leverages the Basic Mapping Support (BMS) interface between CICS and CICS applications that move 3270 data streams to and from a terminal. (IBM's Customer Information and Control System, or CICS, is a general-purpose subsystem for implementing transaction-processing applications.) Developers can use the tool to display, modify and generate standalone BMS files and BMS files associated with COBOL copybooks on any Windows-, Unix- or Linux-based system supporting a Java Runtime Environment 6.0 or greater, the company said. Because Map Editor provides a WYSIWYG view of the 3270 maps, it requires no formal knowledge of BMS macro coding.

The tool is used to build and maintain CICS BMS maps for workloads that run in Clerity's UniKix mainframe "re-hosting" software. The Chicago-based provider of mainframe migration and modernization solutions acquired that software in 2006 when it purchased Sun Microsystems' mainframe re-hosting business. The UniKix environment is used today to migrate Adabas/Natural, CICS, IMS and similar applications off the mainframe. It also runs online and batch workloads on open systems platforms, including such as HP-UX, IBM AIX, Linux, zLinux (Linux on the mainframe), Sun Solaris and Microsoft Windows.

The company is expected to announce a new UniKix release next week. UniKix 11.2 will add native support for 64-bit environments, support for sync level 2 communications across SNA network and a new JCL pre-processing option. These enhancements are aimed at organizations that are offloading mainframe MIPS compute cycles to improve economies of scale and avoid upgrades, and for businesses that are replacing their mainframe systems, according to the company.

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