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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About Me

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I am a project-based software consultant, specializing in automating transitions from legacy reporting applications into modern BI/Analytics to leverage Social, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, Visualizations, and Predictive Analytics using Information Builders' WebFOCUS. Based on scores of successful engagements, I have assembled proven Best Practice methodologies, software tools, and templates.

I have been blessed to work with innovators from firms such as: Ford, FedEx, Procter & Gamble, Nationwide, The Wendy's Company, The Kroger Co., JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Siemens, American Express, and others.

I was educated at Valparaiso University and the University of Cincinnati, where I graduated summa cum laude. In 1990, I joined Information Builders and for over a dozen years served in regional pre- and post-sales technical leadership roles. Also, for several years I led the US technical services teams within Cincom Systems' ERP software product group and the Midwest custom software services arm of Xerox.

Since 2007, I have provided enterprise BI services such as: strategic advice; architecture, design, and software application development of intelligence systems (interactive dashboards and mobile); data warehousing; and automated modernization of legacy reporting. My experience with BI products include WebFOCUS (vendor certified expert), R, SAP Business Objects (WebI, Crystal Reports), Tableau, and others.