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Modernizing Legacy Code - Getting Started

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"Transformation" has become a popular term in the ABL for various kinds of application modernization -- moving to a new User Interface (UI), implementing a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), evolving toward the OpenEdge Reference Architecture (OERA), and other projects directed toward upgrading old versions of legacy ABL applictions. Today's ABL is just not the same language it was back 15-20 years ago when many ABL applications were first written and our ideas about good architecture have, if anything, evolved more than the language.

To many people "transformation" also tends to be a synonym for "big expensive project for which we don’t have funds," and sometimes also means "we haven’t a clue how to approach this project". But, that doesn't always have to be true and I'm here to help you find the path that fits your specific business.

Transformation is a good word for any kind of change to an application which goes beyond maintenance and minor feature enhancements to address underlying architecture or technology. As such, it applies equally well to modest, gradual efforts as it does to major end-to-end restructuring.

Many people who need Transformation, and even some working on various Transformation-type projects, don’t connect with the word “Transformation”. But, Transformation includes everything from a cleanup project fixing tacky pieces of ancient architecture, to adding in a few webservices, or turning bits of common code into a service. If you want to change the architecture, then you are doing transformation whether the change is small or large.

There is a spectrum from very small, very focused projects to extremely large and sweeping ones. Perhaps we all would like our application fully modernized with choice of UI and full blown SOA, but few can afford the expense of such a project. Fewer still, really understand the target architecture toward which they should be evolving.

We will be talking here about the many different kinds of Transformation, what impact each has on the application – short and long term, what kind of costs are involved for each, and what tools and techniques exist to increase efficiency and lower cost. My hope is that armed with more understanding of possibilities, you can make better choices.

Let me know what issues you see in your Transformation planning and I will incorporate what I can into this evolving discussion.