Compuware Tool Aimed at Updating Legacy Mainframe Code

Mainframe specialist Compuware Corp. today released a tool addressing what it described as the manual, tedious process of accessing and understanding complex mainframe applications.

The new software helps developers visualize and understand the impact of proposed mainframe code changes in real-time, the company said, which can help dramatically speed the previously lumbering pace of mainframe DevOps.

Maintaining legacy mainframe code may not be the hottest programming chore in today's world of mobility, agility, but it's a necessary task that Compuware is seeking to make easier with today's release the tool that provide insights into program-to-program interactions.

The importance of maintaining that code, likely written in languages such as COBOL or PL/I, is exemplified by Compuware's claims that 80 percent of the world's corporate data is mainframe-related, and that 55 percent of today's enterprise apps still touch the mainframe, with more than 5 billion lines of COBOL code being added each year to a base excelling 220 billion lines of code.

However, Compuware said, that code may not be well-documented, and many of today's developers tasked with updating that code to meet constantly changing business requirements might not have much experience with it. Thus today's update of the Topaz suite aimed at IBM z Systems includes the Topaz Runtime Visualizer (Topaz RV), which helps developers get a clearer picture of mainframe program interactions.

The Topaz Runtime Visualizer in Action
[Click on image for larger view.] The Topaz Runtime Visualizer in Action (source: Compuware)

With the new tool, Compuware said, "developers can generate an intuitive map of the external calls a program executes during any specified runtime within minutes -- without the need to refer to source code -- saving them hours or days of painstaking work, while ensuring the accuracy and completeness of their results."

This increased visibility helps developers of all skill levels and experience more quickly understand and work with complicated code no matter how old and poorly documented it might be, the company said.

"Topaz RV also enables developers to drill down into a program's external calls to see how often programs call each other during a runtime and/or the specific datasets a program accesses at each point in its execution," Compuware said. "This insight helps them better pinpoint potential performance bottlenecks, inefficiencies and inter-program impacts."

Today's release marks the fourth update of Topaz this year, featuring the visualization tool that a company software architect thought up during a July 4 holiday and which was built in an agile effort taking 84 days to today's availability.

"Mainframes have long been the platform of choice for enterprise systems of record, and today they are the backbone for many modern digital applications," Compuware quoted analyst Jason Bloomberg of Intellyx as saying. "Compuware's commitment to supporting current as well as the next generation of mainframe professionals with easy to use, innovative tools is of great service to enterprise customers who recognize the mainframe as the modern, digital platform it will continue to be for years to come."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.