Modernise OpenInsight Applications

Our legacy application modernisation journey started with the challenge of one of our subsidiary companies "Powerforce Software" Without a doubt OpenInsight and even its DOS predecessor Arev, have been fundamentally excellent development environments for many years (at the time). We like many other successful software houses have written uniquely competitive applications when the world was uniquely Windows application focused. Then came the internet, quickly followed by the cloud and all its iterations.

Because OpenInsight was quite simply the toolkit with which we built our application, we looked forward to the next release from Revelation Technology to help us enhance and migrate our platform to the browser and cloud services. OpenInsight's future is still tied to the desktop model, whereas our client base is very much mobile and cloud focused, with new demands and expectations.

Using our own experience in migrating from a 20+ year legacy application built around the time of the Sydney Olympics (2000), we found ourselves with a world-class application sitting on an island, whereas everyone around us was in the clouds. We found no reason to ditch 20+ years of development, of business logic embodied inside of code, so we set on a path to get off the island and reach for the clouds.

Right of the bat, let me say that this does not mean that you have to convert your 400+ forms, your 200 database tables, your 1000 processes before you reap the reward of your migrating process. The world when you first wrote this application was very different, it was different 10 years ago, and it's again very different in this covid-pandemic era we find ourselves in presently. Your customer requirements and service expectations are very different now, to what they were when you likely wrote the bulk of your software. So, we chart out what you need to modernise in the short term, the medium term and the long-term.

We analyse the software use to identify the order of the migration, followed by the planning and scheduling of regular, quick wins, particularly those that show immediate returns in value to your customers and to your business.

Frustrated by inaction by the tools vendor and a need to move forward we undertook many trial and error prototypes to migrate our now ailing legacy applications. We've now developed a methodolgy and tooling to migrate from OpenInsight to the open web, to a completely non-proprietary world, where we can interface with any other application or service that exists today.

It might appear that to migrate off OpenInsight is impossible and fraught with a greater % chance of failure, the truth is, is that with training and guidance and support, its doable.

Vendor Lock in?

Vendor lock-in refers to a situation where the cost of switching to a different vendor is so high that one is essentially stuck with the original vendor. Modernising and migrating to an Open Source based environment removes that significant impediment as well as opening up access to tens of thousands of developers to support your new platform base. Moving away from vendor database lock in gives your application so much freedom of choise as well as room for expansion

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Supporting the multi-value universe

Without a doubt, the OpenInsight DB server was in its time xxxxx, and as the Non-SQL world came hurtling down in the past 10 years, those of us using OpenInsight wondered what all the hooha was about. Nonetheless, its performance has for many years been lacking when challenged with large scale databases. So, you might think that migration will involve a long, labourious and very costly exercise to convert to SQL. We can put aside by using PostgeSQL, a modern, advanced and feature rich database, which supports the OpenInsight multi-value paradigm out of the box. This lends itself to a straight forward migration with no need to spend months re-designing and re-factoring the database. This

the new Database platform

Sounds impossible!

Along the way we found that many other companies across the globe had already started their journeys, so much so that organisations such as Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft had partner programs to help with the whole process. We weren't naive in thinking this was a way forward, we found a world of resources, training resources and methodolgies to help in the development of the path forward.

What's the new tech stack?

Revelation Software’s OpenInsight 10 — What have you been doing?

An excellent article which canvases the direction of OpenInsight

BasicPlus B

Like many we have enjoyed the dynamic nature of BasicPlus, the ability to use 'x' however we wanted. The thought of learning something as mind-twisting as javascript kills many of us in our first steps. The good news is, is that we don't need to learn javascript.

So, what do we need to learn?

Case Study

Refactor, re-home and redesign Powerforce