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Rapid Business Change and ABL Productivity

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Providing the ability to generate code using MDA techniques is a key opportunity by which Progress Software can provide substantially higher productivity in production of new code and dramatically facilitate nimble revisions in response to changes in business requirements. This capability will provide an important market advantage for the users of its products and a marketing advantage in the high productivity levels which can be claimed7.

PSC’s acquisition of Savvion helps to underscore this conclusion because, within the sphere of business process management, Savvion does something strongly related to MDA. Models of business processes are constructed in a design tool and automatically converted to executable form. As there may be a need for manual interaction in this conversion for some tasks, Savvion is not 100% Model-to-Code, but the ability to regenerate and continuously modify existing models is strongly related to the advantages to be found with MDA.

I propose that Model-to-Code translation represents a major opportunity for increased productivity in ABL and one that is very much in tune with developments for other languages. Implementing such translation and making it available to ABL developers can boost productivity and increase quality and nimbleness, improving competitiveness with other development tools and enhancing the fit of OpenEdge to the rapidly changing requirements of modern business. This productivity advantage is not a minor issue of a few percentage points, but often can be as much as 10X8.

An investment in Model-to-Code technology will return more substantial gains in core ABL productivity and responsiveness than any other possible investment9.

  • 1. By John Rymer of Forrester in Grow Fast or Become Extinct.
  • 2. See for a blog on this subject and for a link to a slide deck further explaining the ideas.
  • 3. The Pareto Principle is the original formulation of what is often referred to as the 80/20 rule, i.e., in software, it takes 20% of the time to write 80% of the application and 80% of the time to write the other 20%.
  • 4. For example, a 5X gain in the 4GL portion would only reduce the 20% to 4% while the 80% would remain fixed, so the total reduction was only from 100% to 84% of the original time.
  • 5. AlphaBASIC was a business oriented language for use on the AlphaMicro platform.
  • 6.
  • 7. It should be noted that translation technologies are already in use in 3GL environments where they provide high levels of development productivity and nimble response to change. However, this usage is most common in certain specialized applications such as real time environments or telephony systems so there is still a marketing advantage for ABL in providing translation technology for enterprise business applications. Indeed, it is compelling to provide that productivity in order not to be outcompeted by 3GL systems using translation.
  • 8. Personal communication from H.S. Lahman, a 20 year veteran of Model-to-Code translation in complex real time applications.
  • 9. See A Path to Model-to-Code Translation in ABL for a description of issues and plans to achieve these productivity gains.
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