Mid-Michigan Computer Consultants, Inc.
Bay City, Michigan
Sales (989) 892-9242
Support (989) 686-8860
INTELLIGENT CONVERSION TOOLS
Mid-Michigan Computer Consultants, Inc. (MMCC) is a software and consulting
firm which specializes in software and data conversions.
This document briefly describes MMCC's services.
MMCC's conversion services are unique because of the high level of
automation. This automation has been named
"Intelligent Conversion Tools"
but is also referred to simply as the "toolkit".
The MMCC toolkit is not a single program or even a system of programs.
Instead it is a methodology
developed over 30 years by the founders of the company.
In the last few years the toolkit has achieved its
potential thanks to the power of the "personal computer"
and the ability to link PC's to mainframe computers.
The concept of the toolkit is simple:
Download source code and data from the old system.
Manipulate the code and data with powerful, interactive,
and fast software on the PC to accomplish the
Then upload the converted output to the target system.
The PC is central to the toolkit because of its speed in a single
user environment. PC editors can easily load
an 8000 line COBOL program into memory and instantly access any record.
PC programming languages
allow custom programs to be written, compiled and run in minutes.
Mainframe languages implemented on
the PC allows modeling of assumptions and techniques without building
a complete system on the mainframe.
An MMCC technician sits at his PC with an arsenal of these editors
and languages at his disposal.
Given a segment of the conversion project to complete,
the technician can edit by hand or write programs to do
repetitive edits automatically.
MMCC technicians are required to have a variety of skills.
They must write several computer languages and
be familiar with different computers and their operating environments.
This experience allows the technician
to understand what needs to be done and marshall his resources
to do the job quickly and accurately.
It is important to note that the toolkit includes few completely
prewritten programs. Instead it has libraries
of general routines and programs which can be tailored to a
specific conversion. This is the only practical
approach because every conversion is different.
To make a conversion work MMCC must understand the source and target
systems as well as the client's
goals and expectations. For this job one tool is more important
than any other. That tool is EXPERIENCE.
MMCC's senior analysts are fluent in multiple computer languages
and have worked on a variety of different computers.
MMCC insists that its staff has strong data processing background
but also looks for people who
understand computer science, operating systems and language theory.
MMCC's "Intelligent Conversion Tools"
provide three main benefits:
Speed is justification enough because speed lowers
the cost. By letting the computer do the routine work
after the rules have been set, conversion costs are cut by simply
reducing manhours. And automation also
allows a degree of conversion that is seldom practical when done manually.
Standardization justifies automation as well
because it provides long term benefits. Standards mean
programming rules which mean lower maintenance costs.
Automated conversion INSURES that the rules are followed.
STANDARDS mean continued savings over the life of the system.
Flexibility is provided by customizing the
toolkit to the job at hand. Traditional conversion aids only treat
language syntax. They are written for the general case and have few
if any provisions for the unique and unusual.
MMCC writes conversion tools that do exactly
what the client needs and wants.
"HAVE IT YOUR WAY
but DO IT RIGHT!
There are only a few ways to convert computer programs from one platform
to another. Most involve a great
deal of time and uncertainty. None are fun.
The primary obstacle is that personnel completely understand
the machine they're leaving but don't know
much at all about the one they're moving to.
They make assumptions based on quickly acquired "education"
then spend weeks or months converting programs.
After the conversion is done the converted programs begin to work.
Only then do the programmers really learn the new machine.
Usually they find things they
wish they'd done differently during the conversion ...
but it's too late to start over.
MMCC's conversion tools helps prevent these problems.
Instead of spending the hours converting
individual programs, the time is spent writing the conversion rules
as conversion tool programs. Once the
tools are written, the actual conversion is very fast.
When the converted programs begin to run and the
"better ways" are identified, it is a simple matter to change
the tools and reconvert the entire system.
Intelligent Conversion Tools
allow you to try things out, change your mind and try it again.
In the expensive world of computer programming,
it's the only intelligent way to run a conversion!
Generally speaking MMCC's conversion tools fall into these categories:
DOWNLOADERS are programs written for the source computer.
They talk to the terminal emulation
programs on the connected PC and download source code and data.
Some computers have utility download functions as part of
the operating system. Others do not.
As long as some form of communications is supported, however,
it is probable that data can be downloaded.
In cases where there are no data communications facilities,
it might be necessary to extract data to tape
or diskette and use a different computer to transfer the data to our PC's.
QUICK ANALYZERS are PC programs written to
gather facts about the conversion job. These programs
digest large volumes of raw code and help paint a picture of
what the source system is really made of.
They look for data names, files, techniques and oddities.
As a picture develops detail, the analyzers are tweaked, modified and
rerun to look at specific areas.
These programs are heavily used at the beginning of the project
and then less frequently as the
conversion is defined.
PC LANGUAGES are sometimes used to model assumptions
and test hypotheses. COBOL 74 and COBOL
85 are fully implemented on the PC as is RPG, FORTRAN and, of course,
BASIC. When used intelligently
these languages provide excellent and fast testing environments.
DATABASE BUILDERS come into play at all points
during the conversions. Quick analyzers store their
facts in files, print lists, and build tables.
The conversion programs themselves write exception files and lists.
All of this information becomes a database which the programs and
technicians share and draw on to implement the conversion.
CONVERTERS are the programs which do the greatest
volume of actual work. They are tailored to the
rules of the conversion and become as sophisticated as required.
MMCC converters are actual language processors like a compiler.
They include parsing routines to pick
apart the syntax of statements; store data names, files and operations;
follow the logic and look for
special coding conventions.
The conversion programs are comprehensive and powerful.
They can do simple things . . . like changing
every occurrence of a specified data name.
But they can also do the hard jobs like picking apart a
COBOL IF / ELSE sentence and putting it back together in a new fashion.
They can enforce standard techniques,
insert or remove blocks of code, even realign sloppy indentation.
Individual convertors are written for each language, for screens,
for JCL and for data. Some convertors
are multi-pass operations, others can do everything in one pass.
Where appropriate, pre-processors may
be written to massage the source prior to final conversion.
TEXT EDITORS on the PC's are the most powerful
in the industry. After the automated work has been
done it may still be necessary to "hand smooth" the converted programs.
In these cases both the target machine's
editor and PC editors are used to do the hand work as quickly as possible.
UPLOADERS transfer the converted programs and data
to the target machine. The IBM environment has
excellant utility programs to facilitate this transfer.
LOGIC ANALYZERS have been written for both
the PC and the mainframe sides. These tools help MMCC
technicians understand and restructure the logic of old, unfriendly code.
MMCC's COBOL LOGIC ANALYSER
is actually the oldest program in the toolkit. Written in 1980,
it has been ported from machine to machine over the years because
of its exceptional ability to figure
out what old programs do.
Write to MMCC Technical Support at:
600 W. Midland
Bay City, MI 48708
© 1997 MMCC, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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