January 29, 2016

In This Issue

Registration is now open for the 2016 Synergy DevPartner Conference!
Dream it and Reap: How Turn-Key Benefited Immediately while Transitioning Gradually from OpenVMS to Windows
Did You Receive Your 2016 Synergex Calendar?
Tech Tip: Did you know you can use the latest and greatest DBMS utilities even when using an older version of Synergy?
Industry News
Synergy/DE Links

Registration is now open for the 2016 Synergy DevPartner Conference!

2016 DevPartner Conference May 23-27 | Washington, D.C.

This must-attend event is your best opportunity to dive deeper into Synergy/DE and learn more about the latest features and how they can help advance your applications.

"If you are currently using or are considering going to the very latest technologies — it is very worthwhile attending."

- Todd Duininck, Computer Programming Solutions, Inc.
Attendee, 2015 Synergy DevPartner Conference

Today’s Synergy/DE offers the modern developer true power and performance, regardless of platform or environment. Join us in Washington, D.C., May 23 – 27 and discover what’s possible for your applications with all of the new capabilities in Synergy/DE.

  • Instructive technical sessions
  • Illuminating customer demonstrations
  • Numerous networking opportunities with fellow Synergy developers and the Synergex team
  • Optional pre- and post-conference workshops to help you advance your skill set

Learn more


Dream It and Reap

How Turn-Key Benefited Immediately while Transitioning Gradually from OpenVMS to Windows

Turn-Key Distribution Systems, a Synergex customer based in Malden, MA, celebrated their 40th business anniversary last year. As they recognized this impressive milestone, they couldn’t help but reflect on how far they have come—particularly in the past year. In fact, Turn-Key’s Director of Product Development Paul McMahon recently took to Synergy-l to share their good news and a brief summary of their journey.

Turn-Key’s application has deep roots in OpenVMS. As McMahon describes it, “We’ve been an OpenVMS shop for so long that we actually had to convert our code from DIBOL to DBL when we became DISC customers (pre-“Synergex”) many, many years ago. We’ve been developing all our code on OpenVMS using a terminal emulator and the EDT editor, and we became very proficient at it.” However, Turn-Key wanted to take advantage of the latest technologies available in Synergy, which weren’t possible on OpenVMS. “After the 2014 Synergy DevPartner Conference, we knew we had to move forward if we were going to be in any position to capitalize on the many advancements being presented in the language,” explains McMahon. Specifically, they wanted to deploy applications on mobile devices under iOS or Android and to update the look and feel of their software to improve the user experience. “Our UI predated the mouse, so we couldn’t take advantage of things like touchscreens,” states McMahon. “In fact, our users often had to memorize keyboard combinations and function keys not even shown on a standard Windows keyboard to perform simple tasks that could have been handled differently with other input devices.” They also wanted to interface directly with the office products and equipment that their customers used regularly from their Windows clients, instead of going through an intermediary.

Turn-Key’s dream scenario was to develop Windows code for a Windows environment that could be ported to other platforms, such as iOS devices. However, the idea of moving from OpenVMS to Windows was daunting. “Several things held us back,” explains McMahon. “Converting everything to Windows was definitely one of them. We also had some concerns about forcing a change on developers who were attuned to using our existing methods. We knew that if we were to make this move, we’d have to ensure the learning curve wouldn’t be so steep that it would hold them back, and there would have to be enough gain in it for them to make it worthwhile. It was a tall order.” They were a long way off from migrating their OpenVMS customers to Windows, and they needed to continue developing OpenVMS software and keep their existing OpenVMS procedures in place to ensure the continued integrity of their code. Another huge concern was managing a Windows server. New hardware issues, constant upgrades, frequent downtime, and the technical training and expertise needed to maintain a Windows server weren’t things they were eager to take on. 

So, Turn-Key began researching what options were available to them. They hoped there was a way they could edit in Windows and take advantage of all of the new functionality, while still maintaining their OpenVMS back-end. This would also put them in a better position to develop Windows code when the time came. As a first step, McMahon talked to his Synergex account representative, who was instrumental in helping him realize that what he wanted was indeed possible. Another Synergex customer at the 2015 DevPartner Conference, Chris Blundell of United Natural Foods, Inc., offered some great insight into how his company had tackled the same issue. Turn-Key then engaged the Synergex Professional Services Group to come on site and work with them to develop the procedures, configure the software, and begin moving away from EDT and onto Workbench. They also contracted with another Synergex partner, RiversSoft, to develop some of the scripts that would allow seamless integration between Windows and OpenVMS. And they used Rackspace’s colocation services so they didn’t have to worry about any of their concerns with maintaining a Windows server.

Now, Turn-Key edits all code on Windows. States McMahon, “The change didn’t happen overnight, but it was a lot easier than I anticipated. The new configuration has opened new avenues for managing our software that I had never expected.” And, now that the development team is working under Windows, it’ll be a much smaller step to move from Workbench to Visual Studio when the time comes.

Turn-Key’s new configuration includes the following:

  • A server in the cloud (Rackspace) that can be accessed from anywhere. (“We don’t need to maintain it. We don’t need to support it. We don’t need to patch it,” McMahon proclaims. “I can’t stress enough how worry-free this server is.”)
  • Subversion version control software that tracks all their changes and allows multiple users to maintain the same software at the same time—something they could never do before.
  • Workbench, with access to all of their code for quick navigation, searching, referencing, double-checking, and all the other features that make editing a breeze.
  • A nightly archive of all their software to the cloud. They still back up their OpenVMS servers to tape, but this level of redundancy helps safeguard against mission-critical events.
  • On-demand tools to move source from the cloud server to their local OpenVMS server or vice versa.
  • Nightly batch procedures that compare both systems and ensure everything is in sync.
  • Plus all of their existing procedures and tools for maintaining their customers and ensuring their development changes didn’t affect them at all.

Additional benefits include the ability to more easily hire new developers to add to the team. The pool of available programmers capable of navigating an OpenVMS system and using EDT is very small, and it made hiring difficult. Plus, the learning curve was too steep to train new hires willing to learn the legacy tools. Windows developers are much easier to find—and the colocation server makes it possible to hire developers to work remotely, something they had previously only been able to do in isolated, standalone projects.

McMahon is enthusiastic about the results. “Thank you, Synergex, for making this possible. We’re in a much better position today than we were a year ago, and we’re eager to continue our march forward. There’s nothing holding us back now.”

Tech Tip: Did you know you can use the latest and greatest DBMS utilities even when using an older version of Synergy?

The most current versions of isutl, fconvert, irecovr, ismvfy, and chklock are available for download in the Resource Center. We offer these utilities in a separate download so that customers who are not yet able to upgrade to the latest version of Synergy/DE can take advantage of the latest fixes and performance improvements in database file management.

To download the utilities, go to https://resourcecenter.synergex.com/product/download/v10.3/dbms-util.aspx. (you’ll be prompted to log in to the Resource Center), find your operating system, and click the link to download.


Our developers send in facts/jokes/tidbits that might be interesting to Synergy-e-News subscribers. This one was provided by Matthew Reyes, Synergex Salesforce developer.

Mouse wheel

When I'm working with other employees and they're navigating web pages, I notice a lot of people right-clicking links and selecting the "open in new tab" option.

You can open links in new tabs by clicking the mouse's scroll-wheel. This works with most modern browsers and mice.

Did You Receive Your 2016 Synergex Calendar?

If not, let us know!

2016 Synergex calendar

Designed by local artist Daniel Tirapelli of Crux Design, this year’s calendar illustrates the theme “Imagine the possibilities…Think Synergy.”  With Synergy/DE, the possibilities for your applications are endless: Simply imagine where you want to go, and let Synergy technologies take you there.

If you did not receive a Synergex 2016 calendar, or if you would like additional complimentary copies, please e-mail us at synergy@synergex.com. Include your address and the quantity you’d like, and we’ll send them right out to you.

Make sure to read the next issue of Synergy-e-News to participate in some calendar-related fun!

Industry News

Microsoft move to agility hastens Bing’s deployment cadence
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Microsoft finally has a proper way to opt out of Windows 7/8 to Windows 10 upgrades
The Windows 10 Store has a serious app discovery issue, and its developers aren’t pleased
Looking for signs that Apple’s runaway growth is waning
Here’s Microsoft’s list of Skylake devices that will be supported when running Windows 7
Amazon makes it easier to encrypt sites and services on AWS with free SSL certificates
How many devices do we really need?
Server retired after 18 years and ten months – beat that, readers!

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