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Network Development Kit

To develop new or upgrade legacy applications for today’s network environments, the NDK components TRANSACT, FASTPlus, EZTRAN, and THIN CLIENT are required as a minimum. A copy of the THIN CLIENT is required for each PC accessing the final application. The NDK / Server software component  can reside on UNIX, LINUX, or a Windows/NT server.

The remainder of this document describes each NDK / Server software component. 

NDK / TRANSACT ( Screen builder and transaction processor )

TRANSACT is a high-performance NDK software component for the design and development of interactive solutions for use over a network. Designed for speed and efficiency, TRANSACT can dramatically reduce application development and maintenance times. TRANSACT provides a full array of functions for building complete networked applications. It’s easy to use, flexible, and powerful enough for developing even the most complex interactive network solution. A fourth generation system, TRANSACT employs a sophisticated top-down approach for developing applications. Unlike typical bottom-up development with compilers, utilities and libraries, TRANSACT helps developers implement most applications without programming. It guides them through development with simple menus and prompts. While many applications can be developed using TRANSACT without writing a single line of code, developers can still invoke TRANSACT functions within most programming languages. TRANSACT provides fast application development through top-down approach. It also supports a variety of files, including ASCII, binary, FASTPlus, CISAM, and all databases currently supporting the ODBC standard. TRANSACT also supports large-scale files, plus extensive linked files and file networks. It operates on numerous terminals, PCs and Workstations, generates screens efficiently through menus and a Screen Painter, allows easy manipulation of complex files, simplifies recovery through an audit system, provides reliable security checks and levels, includes a library of routines compatible with many system languages such as FORTRAN, COBOL, PL/1 and C, and supports sophisticated program flow control routing (Legends) that lets developers define an application in building blocks.

Figure E; Screen Building Components

This technique allows the actual flow of the application to become independent of the components and ensures a rapid and easy to debug application. TRANSACT also allows developers to define powerful data Transports for file merging, dumping, and conversion. Additionally, TRANSACT incorporates a Data Management Library (DML) used by the Run Module to manipulate complex files. The DML is a comprehensive set of screen and file handling functions for manipulating data with custom subroutines or stand-alone programs. Users can input and output records interactively through data screens generated with TRANSACT. TRANSACT also maintains a complete security and audit recovery system. During the application development process, TRANSACT provides an audit trail of printable components, such as files, menus and screens. The system also provides controls for complete data validation.

The screen builder of TRANSACT also supports background graphics, sounds (wav files), tile images, bitmaps, jpgs, gifs, mpg (movies), and others. Therefore, along with the GUI look of windows, these same screens may be enhanced to achieve highly creative displays that can contain company logos, unique sounds, decorative graphics, etc.


Figure F; Sample GUI administrator menu created using NDK

The NDK component TRANSACT is comprised of two main subsystems; the Executive Module and the Run Module.

Executive Module

  • Help developers produce on-line interactive network applications.
  • Build screens, menus, and legends for program control.
  • Define data entry validation criteria.
  • Establish file and record parameters.
  • Display copy or print all application components.
  • Audit transactions and recover files.
  • Define and execute data Transport systems.

Run Module

  • Execute the developed application.
  • Add, change, delete, and display information.
  • Execute operating system scripts.
  • Execute custom subroutines including EZTRAN programs.
  • Execute external programs.
  • Traverse a menu tree structure and respond to legend directives.
  • Execute reports.

NDK / FASTPlus( File System )

FASTPlus is a robust, on-line, multi-key file management system that has proven its reliability and performance at hundreds of sites through the years. The system provides fast and powerful ISAM (Indexed Sequential Access Method) record storage and access for large files. FASTPlus is also capable of supporting large numbers of concurrent users in the most demanding large file environment and over networks. Menu driven file utility programs provide activity information, such as what files are open by which users.


Figure G; FASTPlus administrator screen

File template and usage information can be displayed and files can be quickly built, dumped or reorganized. Software Libraries are provided for both native development and emulation of other ISAM systems. FASTPlus is COBOL, FORTRAN, and C friendly, and is often used for native COBOL ISAM access.

FASTPlus Product Features

  • Especially suited for large scale ISAM databases.
  • Large file sizes (spans disk partitions).
  • Large number of concurrent users.
  • Full support for cross-network concurrence handling
  • Powerful menu driven monitoring and maintenance utilities.
  • On-line file integrity checking capability.
  • Multiple key types supported,  no required primary key.
  • Up to 199 indexes per file.
  • Non-contiguous keys supported, up to 128 bytes per key.
  • In-place file reorganization.
  • Ability to extract deleted records for recovery
  • Optionally recovers deleted record space during processing.
  • Optionally compress duplicate characters.
  • Comprehensive subroutine library.

Performance Features

  • State-of-the-art optimized B-tree design.
  • Optimized duplicate key processing.
  • Efficient concurrence control using memory, semaphores and spin locks.
  • Advanced caching of both data and control information.
  • Configurable cache size for optimal performance.
  • Variable block packing density.
  • Fast recovery after system failure.

NDK / EZTRAN ( 4th Generation Programming Language )

EZTRAN replaces traditional programming languages and provides developers with a simple yet powerful programming tool. Although traditional procedural languages such as COBOL, FORTRAN, PL/1, and C are available to users of NDK, EZTRAN has significant advantages over all the previous high level languages. e.g.; Developers never have to be concerned with migration incompatibilities to other platforms when using EZTRAN. (Since compilers vary from platform to platform, the use of EZTRAN completely removes these annoying issues.) An additional advantage using EZTRAN over other programming languages is the fact EZTRAN programs/subroutines do not require its compiled binary be integrated with a “run-time” executable. This simple fact allows developers to test and debug EZTRAN logic instantly, thereby saving significant time in the overall development process. Additionally, unlike traditional methods of developing and testing applications, EZTRAN does not require a production application be restarted for debug purposes. As an example of the significance of the preceding, consider an EZTRAN program that is tested and debugged within a test bed - then installed on a production version on perhaps another machine. If the program/subroutine had been created in another language, the new logic would require the production system be stopped and restarted to take advantage of the enhancement. (Typically the new logic would not be available until the following day!) Of course, even with EZTRAN, there are exceptions to the previous.


Figure H; Sample EZTRAN program

TRANSACT’s complete DML has been incorporated into EZTRAN giving developers a full complement of data access and manipulation routines without the constraints associated with programming languages. Programming with EZTRAN is much easier than with other languages. Simple programs can be entered and maintained on a full screen within DSC products. For larger programs, developers can create and maintain EZTRAN programs using a text editor. EZTRAN programs are compiled using a utility which produces clear and concise diagnostic messages. These programs can be either stand-alone or can operate within the entire NDK environment. For example, EZTRAN programs can be EDIT or INIT routines validating information as it is read from a screen. Likewise, EZTRAN programs can be invoked from TRANSACT menus, from TRANSWRITER reports, or even from TRANSPORT systems. EZTRAN programs are automatically “linked” into DSC software. Thus, the maintenance of EZTRAN programs is easy.

EZTRAN is easy to learn and with its use of free-form program input it eliminates many of the mistakes encountered with traditional programming languages. The language is completely integrated with all NDK components. It supports screens, files, menus, formats, and many other elements typically required for application development. Comprehensive programming constructs including various program flow control statements are also supported.

Complete access to the NDK DML (Data Manipulation Library) component also provides developers with robust capabilities to support even the most complex requirements. EZTRAN also contains a wide variety of reserved functions and variables. Other features include;

  • Support of graphics.
  • Special data formatting capability.
  • Complete diagnostic messages during compile.
  • Run-time debugging capability.
  • Portable across a wide range of computer platforms.

Creating EZTRAN Programs

EZTRAN programs can be created using the EZTRAN Program Maintenance function. EZTRAN programs can also be maintained using a standard text editor. Once created, the program is compiled and automatically cataloged within the DSC dictionary.

EZTRAN Program Structure

An EZTRAN source program is a very simple structure. All commands are free form. Programs contain statements for declaring any local or global variables, program control statements, and EZTRAN action commands. By simply selecting a file or by invoking a screen, developers have complete access to the dictionary definitions of the file or screen fields. Program flow statements include IF THEN ELSE logic, WHILE constructs, as well as loop control using the FOR and NEXT operations. EZTRAN action commands include over 150 statements inclusive of the entire DSC DML.


NDK / TRANSWRITER - ( Report and Display Writing )

TRANSWRITER is a menu driven report and display writing system. Designed for the development of simple and complex reports, TRANSWRITER lets developers build displays or reports in a fraction of the time required using traditional programming methods.  By simply depressing function keys and filling in the blanks on the screen, developers can define complex reports or displays in just minutes. Although TRANSWRITER minimizes the need to employ programming, developers can still integrate subroutines within a report. This combination gives developers both high level report definition plus the flexibility to perform special processing.  TRANSWRITER is not a programming language nor a program generator. Instead, it is a step-by-step report definition system that lets developers create and maintain reports from a menu driven system.  TRANSWRITER produces complete documentation for each report. Novice users can produce simple reports in just minutes. Experienced users can produce very sophisticated reports in just hours.


Figure I; Sample report development screen

Features include; Fast report development through sophisticated top-down approach; Support of multi-file reports using relational techniques; Directs output to multiple media including PCs, workstations, terminals, printers, files and aux ports; Extensive multi-file sorting on ascending and descending keys; Unlimited breakpoint support with flexible output at each level; Complete Boolean search criteria at each level within a report including multiple file search capability; Unique Report Painter that allows developers to describe the report on the screen exactly as it will appear when output; Extensive field editing including conditional compute, display, update, and a full range of field edits; Immediate and batch report execution; Complete run-time support library including report execution and report modification as well as data manipulation routines; Fully integrated HELP Utility at each point within the development phase of a report.

TRANSWRITER general capabilities

The Executive

With the Executive system, developers define, create, maintain, and document custom reports. Development functions such as defining report files, file relationships, field labels, report layouts, and report output media are a few of the processes that are controlled through this utility. Other features of the Executive are complete report documentation generation, print and display utilities, copy functions, and much more.

Run System

The Run System of TRANSWRITER controls the actual report execution. Once a report is created under the Executive, a separate run system executes the report. The Run System is comprised of both on-line and batch utility programs. Therefore, any report may be executed from any user terminal or PC, or through the TRANSWRITER batch control program. Custom run system programs may be created incorporating user written subroutines to perform complex reporting functions. These subroutines may be written in any programming language, as well as in EZTRAN.


NDK / TRANSVIEW - ( Data Query and Report System )

Although TRANSVIEW can significantly reduce application development time, this NDK component is directed at both the user of the final application, as well as the developer. For the developer, it provides a tool to propagate a test database quickly, recreate the test database easily, verify data in files have been updated properly, and a variety of other useful tasks to help expedite application development. However, TRANSVIEW also provides a powerful AD HOC capability for the users of the final application (if user is given full or partial access to this component’s features). The ADHOC user data can also use TRANSWRITER’S displays or reports previously defined.

Figure K; Sample TRANSVIEW help screen.

  • Easy to use, interactive language.
  • Menu-driven responses with descriptive prompting.
  • Fully integrated HELP system.
  • Relational-like file linking, including relating different file types.
  • Complete file update capabilities, including Add, Change, and Delete.
  • Powerful file transfer, including reformatting of data.
  • Complex Boolean data search expressions, including linked file search.
  • Flexible merge function linking to word processing documents.
  • Sort capability, including related file reordering.
  • Global compute and update feature, including linked file updates.
  • Security access control, including file and command restrictions.
  • Standard report writing capability.
  • Program interface allows TRANSVIEW to be invoked from any application program.

Database Maintenance

Data management begins with data files. TRANSVIEW lets developers create, modify, and delete data files. File relationships, or links, can be easily defined which let developers relate two files through a common field. These links provide developers with a much broader access of data than with a single file system. Once these links have been described, developers may access many files at one time, including different file types. Thus records can be accessed, sorted, changed, and printed using several files at one time.

Data Search Capability

To access a TRANSVIEW file, users must first select it. Additional related files may likewise be selected. To locate records within a database, use the FIND command. Powerful search relationships may be used within this command, including Boolean operations. This command locates records in all related files; therefore, the search criteria can be from any file users select. Once the proper records requested have been located, they are stored in a “set”. Users can create multiple sets at the same time. Data queries use search expressions stated in simple language terms.

These expressions can be combined using Boolean “AND” and “OR” operators, parenthesized for compound conditions. All relational operations, as well as inclusion, are valid in a search expression. Data Access and Manipulation.

TRANSVIEW provides users with a variety of file access and update commands. Users can perform all of these functions from a screen by simply filling in the blanks. Once a record has been located, it is displayed on the screen and users may change or delete this record, or simply display the next record that meets the search criteria. Users can also perform global updates, computations, and deletions through very simple commands. Multiple files can be accessed and updated using these functions. TRANSVIEW presents users with a single screen for command input and prompts users to enter a TRANSVIEW command. Commands can be entered on this screen in free form.

If a command requires additional information prior to execution, TRANSVIEW will prompt users with an additional self-explanatory screen. By simply depressing a function key, a complete HELP system is available describing the operation of TRANSVIEW and each of its commands.

Product Information

For a complete product presentation, download and view the WOW demonstration.