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SoftwareMining's COBOL Business Rule Extraction Guide

NOTE: Now integrated with our COBOL to Java Translation Toolkit.

Legacy COBOL applications encompass a myriad of operations like Transaction Processing, Database Access, and screen management. Given their vast scope and complexity, pinpointing the distinction between business-centric and auxiliary code for documentation generation becomes challenging.

Business Rule Extraction (BRE) focuses on separating code segments pertinent to business procedures. This article delves into the merits and challenges of BRE as a modernization tactic for:

We also introduce a transformative approach:

Documenting Business Rules

For instance, consider documenting the rule for calculating "discounts" in a "Customer" transaction. In standard systems, extracting such rules might pinpoint 500 COBOL code lines from an original 5,000, all pertaining to "discount" computations. Yet, these lines often contain extraneous details, obscuring the core "discount" calculation logic.

While heuristics can reduce redundancies, they may inadvertently skip vital information. Hence, a labor-intensive, error-prone manual review becomes inevitable.

Our analysis suggests that the BRE approach, despite its potential, involves high risks and costs. Instead, providing clear translations offers our clients superior benefits. Effective translations yield self-documented, maintainable applications, enabling gradual manual reimplementations while retaining functionality.

Shifting to a Rule-Based Framework

Large COBOL system perform many tasks such as generating reports, data-entry screens, printing, ... , and sometimes they invoke procedural implementation of rules (e.g. "Eligibility" rules in an insurance application).

Realistically, rule-centric systems aren't the best fit for programs centered around printing, reporting, or data-entry. A better strategy is converting the application into an easily maintainable Java or C# system. Post transition, a select few programs can be manually reintroduced within a rule-based infrastructure.

Addressing BRE with a Translation Strategy

Several features pivotal for "Documentation" are freely accessible in development platforms like ECLIPSE IDE or Microsoft's Visual Studio IDE. An example is the "Find References" tool, offering insights on variable usages, modules, methods, and impact evaluations. Such a tool can predominantly fulfill BRE's documentation aspirations.

To expedite this, SoftwareMining proffers a translation to Java (or C#) for documentation aims. Initially, the translated Java code serves purely for documentation (sans runtime licenses). Should you desire to deploy the generated Java code operationally, additional runtime licenses can be procured.






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