Friday, March 26, 2010

WebFOCUS Dropping CGI and ISAPI Support

On March 26, 2010, Information Builders' Customer Support group sent e-mails announcing that WebFOCUS would stop supporting the use of web CGI and ISAPI calls. 

Nobody needs to panic.

These interfaces allow the end user's browser to communicate through the web tier to the WebFOCUS Report Server.  CGI refers to "Common Gateway Interface" programs which enable web pages to talk with other systems.  ISAPI, or the "Internet Server Application Programming Interface," is a Microsoft version of this technology. 

There was a period in early web application development when people asked, "Should I use CGI or Java Servlets?" but those days are long gone.  Instead of using these legacy technologies, IB would like all customers to switch to their Java Servlet method.

IB says that the CGI/ISAPI calls are not being installed with WebFOCUS Client component as of their most current 7.6 releases. 

In Q2 of 2010, IB will release WebFOCUS 7.7 and will "deprecate" the use of the CGI/ISAPI at that time.  Basically, you can still use those calls temporarily but you have been given notice that IB will sunset the features sometime soon.

Your deadline is when WebFOCUS 8.0 comes out -- the legacy CGI/ISAPI features will then be gone, officially "desupported" by IB.

If you have only developed WebFOCUS Business Intelligence applications for a few years, you most likely started with a Java application server (and may not even remember CGIs and ISAPI calls).  You will not be impacted by IB's sunsetting decision.

If you have used WebFOCUS from its genesis in the mid-1990s, you probably did use CGI calls to build the initial web BI applications.  Sometime in the last decade, however, it is very likely you dropped the CGI and switched to the newer Java Servlet. 

However, if you really do have legacy WebFOCUS BI applications out there with CGI calls in them, Partner Intelligence's BI Consolidator product has a feature to automatically convert your HTML pages to use Java Servlets.  If you have ISAPI calls instead of CGIs, we should be able to easily handle those in an automated conversion as well. 

Our automated conversion application can process about 20 programs per second, so talk to us before doing this manually.  If you are unsure if your WebFOCUS HTML pages use CGI, Partner Intelligence can automatically scan, inventory, and discover what your logic is doing. 

If Partner Intelligence can be of service, just let me know.

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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.