Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Converting NOMAD 4GL to WebFOCUS

If your organization still uses the NOMAD 4GL, Kencura Systems have a cost-effective option for modernizing your applications and retiring NOMAD.  With our software, we can leverage your legacy investments by automatically translating much of your logic into WebFOCUS. 

Back in the 1980s, the competing 4GL products were NOMAD, RAMIS, and FOCUS.  Today, only the FOCUS 4GL is still owned by its original developers.  Companies still relying upon NOMAD and RAMIS are few and far between (see my 2008 blog entry). 

Since releasing the next-generation web version of FOCUS around 1995, Information Builders and their customers have done extremely well with the new architecture.  Thousands of well-known organizations use WebFOCUS: NASA, American Express, JPMorgan Chase, Ford Motor Company, Nationwide Insurance, FedEx, Target Stores, Sony, and JCPenney, just to name a few.

If you still have NOMAD, now is the time to consider moving to modern technologies.  Here is a list of how the BI Modernization application converts specific NOMAD features into a WebFOCUS equivalent:

• Report verb (LIST) and extract file verb (CREATE)

• Multiple verb requests in a single program file

• Original program comments carried forward into generated WebFOCUS code

• Calculations of virtual columns (DEFINE)


• Aggregation functions (CNT, SUM, UNIQUE, MAX, MIN, AVG, FIRST, LAST, NUMBER)

• Distinct Count

• Page headings and footings (TITLE and FOOTING)

• Report footings (SUMMARY)

• Report body (columns)

• Report sorting (BY column) and subtotal break (SUBTOTAL FOR)

• Sort control breaks (BYHEAD and BYFOOT)

• Matrix report sorting (ACROSS column) and row-total (ROWTOT)

• Descending sort option (DESC)

• Report options (NEWPAGE, FOLD, SKIP, OVER)

• Report grand totals (TOTAL ALL)

• Body and sort column invisible option (NOPRINT)

• Column titles (HEADING)

• Column reformatting (AS format)

• Selection criteria (WHERE, SELECT)

• Column spot markers in text (COLUMN)

• Symbolic variable setting (SET &variable) on sort columns

• Symbolic variables used in text (&variable)

• Symbolic substitution using the ‘?(&variable)’ syntax after pre-scan and prior to execution

• Prompting of symbolic variables and formatting (DECLARE AS) *exception is DATE format

• FOR WORKSHEET and LOTUS123 extract file options

• ON filename option

• Extract file (CREATE) subsets with MATCHING (EXTRACT, SUBSET, MERGE, REJECT)

• Support for NOT IN phrases

• Support for some system variable (&NOTAVAILABLE, &NOVALUE)

• Equivalency tests with &NOTAVAILABLE converted to MISSING tests

• Support for DUP option to force sort values not to be suppressed (WebFOCUS BYDISPLAY)

• Procedural scripting labels and unconditional GOTO statements


• HEADING option on DEFINEd columns (ignored)

• NAMED option on columns (WebFOCUS “AS” and ASNAMES setting)

• SYSTEM ALLOC and FREE commands (translated to TSO commands – may need to translate for USS)

• CALL routines translated to EXEC (see translation notes)

• TEST and LIMIT statements are translated to RECORDLIMIT

To convert legacy BI products, Kencura Systems employ our "DAPPER" approach, proceeding through the following phases:
D - Discover
A - Analyze
P - Perform Pilot Conversion
P - Plan for Full Conversion
E - Execute the Plan in a phased approach
R - Retire the legacy BI product
One of our first steps in a BI conversion is to get an accurate inventory of the existing legacy environment.  Using our automated discovery and inventory application, we can quickly provide you with details for scoping a conversion effort.  Contact us for more information.

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With over 20 years of industry experience, Doug Lautzenheiser has provided business intelligence services for well-known organizations such as Procter & Gamble, JPMorgan Chase, Omnicare, Wendy’s International, the State of Indiana, and the State of Oklahoma. ComputerWorld recognized one of Doug's projects with honors for innovative use of technology.  Doug is a featured blogger on BI software at Smart Data Collective.

With his broad knowledge of technologies, business processes, and industry best practices, Doug provides client value by performing strategic advisory services; leading tactical BI application development projects; and enabling dramatic reductions in time, cost, and risks through his unique automated BI consolidation application.

Doug has hands-on experience with a variety of enterprise applications. He is degreed summa cum laude in Information Systems from the University of Cincinnati. An experienced trainer and mentor, Doug has provided educational services to organizations such as National Semiconductor, Ford Motor Company, Northwest Airlines, Principal Financial Group, and Target Stores. Doug is the owner of Kencura Systems.

Talk to Doug before manually performing a large BI initiative. Doug will show you how other smart companies saved time and money by following proven methodologies and automating BI processes instead of letting somebody "wing it" with a manual approach.


B2B software vendor leadership. BI implementations, standardization, and consolidation; data warehousing; WebFOCUS; iWay; BI vendors (Cognos, SAP Business Objects/Crystal Reports, Microstrategy, Actuate, Hyperion/Brio, SAS, Tableau Software); ERP; and full SDLC.