Topaz Workbench
March 3, 2016 Workforce

Compuware’s Topaz Workbench Bridges Mainframe Generations

In the 1960s, the mainframe dramatically altered corporate computing. This powerful platform went on to become the leading U.S. export of the 1970s, and globally a generation of mainframe practitioners was established. These people are now retiring in droves, and the loss of their valuable intellectual property is creating a knowledge gap the incoming generation of developers prefer not to jump across.

Developers with experience in a modern GUI IDE are repelled by the siloed mainframe subculture, its legacy waterfall processes that utilize low-level languages and archaic character-based development tooling. From a language-character perspective, young developers believe working with mainframe applications equates to a career dead end.

Confronted with a lack of mainframe expertise and a looming deadline for hiring and training a new workforce to take over, organizations have tried and failed to abandon the mainframe for other pseudo-solutions time and again before realizing the mainframe remains the most reliable and economic technology for complex, high-volume transactional applications.

Despite its necessity, the mainframe has remained stuck in the past, siloed from other platforms within the enterprise. Companies must forget this bimodal IT approach and find a way to keep pace with the digital economy by mainstreaming the mainframe.

Mainstreaming the Mainframe With Topaz Workbench

To accomplish this, a bridge of modern tools must be built to allow highly-skilled, young developers to cross the mainframe knowledge gap and assume responsibility of the technology. Compuware’s Topaz Workbench is becoming that bridge, and it’s continuously being enhanced to help mainstream the mainframe.

As an Eclipse-based IDE, Topaz Workbench lets developers access mainframe development tools as well as mainstream development products in a modernized user interface. A new developer’s learning curve is accelerated through the availability of tooling that allows them to work on a mix of cross-platform applications.

Topaz Workbench provides easy access to the essentials of mainframe development, testing, and maintenance through these Compuware products:

  • Abend-AID – mainframe application failure resolution
  • File-AID – cross-platform file and data management
  • Strobe – mainframe application performance monitoring and analysis
  • Xpediter – debugging and code coverage

In addition, Topaz Workbench also functions with non-Compuware products and distributed solutions like Atlassian JIRA, SonarSource’s SonarLint and SonarQube, and Jenkins, and integrates with SCM solution ISPW.

Topaz Workbench leverages these tools and the z/OS functionality of its interface to capitalize on an Eclipse framework that eliminates the esoteric nature of mainframe development. This makes it a useful tool for new mainframe developers as well as veterans. Topaz Workbench experts, Kevin Corbett and I cover the core functionality included in the base, no-charge version of the interface in the most recent “What’s New in Topaz Workbench?” webcast replay.

Mainframe applications have proven to be resilient and adaptable. COBOL applications written 20—30 years ago have transitioned from 3270-only interfaces to the backend provider of on-demand customer-facing information served up by web and mobile applications.

But the “age of the customer” has placed new demands on this venerable platform, necessitating the modernization of mainframe development tools for a new generation of developers. With products like Topaz Workbench, Compuware is mainstreaming the mainframe for that next generation.

Photo: Flickr/Mark Goebel