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OpenVMS is alive and well

By Don Fillion, Posted on October 27, 2015 at 4:51 pm

I recently attended the OpenVMS Boot Camp in Nashua New Hampshire. I am pleased to report (with a nod to Mark Twain) that rumors of the death of OpenVMS were greatly exaggerated! VMS Software Incorporated (VSI) has taken over the product and appears to have the situation well in hand.

There were over 100 companies in attendance at the Boot Camp, with Hewlett Packard a very visible participant. The conference was quite lively, with multiple tracks running from 8:00 to 6:00 daily, and events planned each evening. At the conference, there was an undercurrent of optimism and energy, which was no doubt tied to the future of VMS. VSI has already released OpenVMS 8.4-1H1, which provides support for HP Integrity i4 server models based on the Intel® Itanium® 9500 series processors. Moving forward, VSI presented at the Boot Camp a rolling roadmap that provides for at least one release per year for the next few years, improving and extending the software on its current HP platforms—including new versions of TCP/IP and Java, a new file system, and CLI improvements. Concurrently, they are working on VSI OpenVMS 9, which will add support for x86-64 bit processers (slated for 2018). They are planning to support select HP (Intel and AMD) servers first, then Dell and others as well. ARM support is slated to be considered after x86-64.

VSI has pledged at least 5 years of active product support per release, followed by a minimum of 2 years of prior-version support. With releases planned into 2018, this provides a viable, supported future for OpenVMS at least into 2025 and likely well beyond.

The future of OpenVMS is now being tended to by some very experienced engineers—many have come from HP and have been with the O/S throughout its various versions and ownership.

So, VMS users, the immediate takeaway is to listen to the words of the late great Douglas Adams: “Don’t Panic!“ OpenVMS is not going away anytime soon.


Updated PDF API

By Steve Ives, Posted on October 16, 2015 at 11:24 am

A few weeks ago I announced that a new API called SynPSG_PDF had been added to the code exchange. Today I am pleased to announce that the API has been updated and, in addition to Windows, is now also supported on systems running Linux (32-bit and 64-bit), OpenVMS (AXP and IA64) and Synergy .NET.

Also, as a direct result of recent customer feedback, I have added a mechanism that allows a PDF file to be easily created from an existing text file with just a few lines of code. This means that existing report programs that already produce plain text output can be easily modified to produce PDF output with a small amount of code like this:

AttachFileExampleCode

If  you would like to check out the API you can download the code from https://resourcecenter.synergex.com/devres/code-exchange-details.aspx?id=245.


Investing in the look and feel of your applications doesn’t matter…or does it?

By William Mooney, Posted on October 7, 2015 at 10:29 am

synergex-blog-image2Years ago I used to say to our direct corporate end-user customers, “You’re lucky. It doesn’t matter what your application(s) looks like because you’re not selling to compete for new business—all that matters is that it works well and meets your business needs.” End-users plugged merrily along, content to focus on functionality and substance, often in the form of a green-screen front end. In fact, many of those customers claimed that a character-based/green-screen application was much more efficient than using a “cumbersome mouse”—especially when it came to data entry. In the 90’s when Windows, GUI, and the like came on the scene our Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) had a different story—to be competitive, the ISVs suddenly had to worry about both how well their applications functioned AND how they looked. People and companies didn’t want to buy applications that weren’t shiny and new with a great user interface (UI)—even if a sophisticated UI didn’t always correlate with a sophisticated application under the hood. It became a game of how flashy can you make it as opposed to how well does it function.

Fast-forward a few years, and now everyone has to play on the same field—ISVs and corporate end-users. In today’s world, even corporate end-users need to make the move to modernization. If they don’t, the next generation of decision makers will. And when that happens, it’s likely the existing, time-proven solution that has been customized and fine-tuned over the past 30+ years, the one that makes the business unique and competitive, the one that has solved—and continues to solve—everyday business issues, will not survive. Yep, this new generation of decision makers will judge the book by its cover and determine the value of the application based on the way it looks and not what it does. It makes sense, because this new generation grew up knowing only great-looking applications—applications that are generally simpler and more discrete in functionality than complete, integrated solutions that touch every part of the organization but appear less shiny and sophisticated.

So, the bottom line is that if your application doesn’t look great, it will be perceived as less than great, and when that new decision maker comes in—it may be too late to save what you’ve spent so many years perfecting. Needless to say, I strongly recommend that all customers invest in modernizing their application(s) with a great looking UI and UX (user experience). As Billy Hollis affirmed at the recent Synergy DevPartner Conference, UX is equally as important. It’s not just the look and feel, but also the experience of the user that’s critical. It’s important to emphasize here too that a great UI/UX design and a high-performing/highly productive solution are not mutually exclusive. Having a well-designed GUI based application can only add to the functionality and power of your solution. So even if you feel your character-based solution is really the best one for your business, it’s rare for the look and feel to be overlooked in favor of substance. I can’t stress enough the importance of making this investment.

A significant benefit of having a Synergy-based application is that you can separate the UI from the logic and data. This means you can use future UIs without sacrificing the years of investment you have put into your business application. While the look and feel is what everyone sees, in reality the business logic is the true value. And once these two are separated, you can extend the life of your application(s) indefinitely, taking advantage of the ever evolving UI trends that come along. Although it may take some effort initially to separate the UI from the back-end, this is the course of least resistance and investment, and it will offer the largest and longest return.

At Synergex, our main focus is to develop solutions to help you advance and leverage your investment to take advantage of the latest modern technologies. In fact, with our recent release of Synergy DBL, we are venturing into the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), the latest UI experience. And while none of us can be certain what UI trends will be popular 10 years from now, just as none of us back in the ‘80s could have imagined what today’s UI would look like, I’m confident that we will be able to help you leverage your back-end and take advantage of whatever the future holds.


The Digital World … Going too Far?

By Steve Ives, Posted on October 1, 2015 at 7:32 pm

So Hilton’s latest thing is the “Digital Key”; while standing within 5 feet of the door to your hotel room it is now possible (in certain locations) to click a virtual button in the Hilton App on your smart phone and have the door to your hotel room unlock, as if by magic. The digital key also knows about other areas of the hotel that you have access to, such as the Executive lounge (I tried it, it works) and gymnasium (apparently) and provides access to those places too.

Last week I used the app to make my reservation. Yesterday I used the app to check in for my stay and and also to select my room. And today, having already checked in electronically, I was able to totally bypass the reception desk and proceed directly to my room.

Tomorrow morning the credit card associated with my profile will be automatically charged, and I will walk out of the front door and drive to the airport a few exits down the freeway.

If it hasn’t dawned on you what my point is here, it is that I will have booked and totally completed a stay in a hotel … without ever having the need to interact with a single other other human being; all of which seems to me to be a pretty sad state of affairs! Maybe we’re taking this whole technology thing a little too far in some areas?


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