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Sad news about Grant Shayler

November 16, 2011 3 comments

We are deeply saddened to inform the MasterTerminal community of the death of Grant Shayler. He died on 29th October 2011, aged 42. We have delayed this news until his loving sister and father have been able to deal with his affairs and return him to his native land of New Zealand.

Grant was a prolific contributor to this blog, both as a contributor of original articles, and as a respondent to Ask a Question. He also actively participated in the CICS-L mailing list. His depth of knowledge of CICS was outstanding.

Grant joined IBM in 1989. He was initially a tester of the CICS Security restructure, but his security expertise was so extensive that he became an honorary member of the design team. The complex table of CICS ISC userid selection was Grant’s creation.

He temporarily moved to WebSphere MQ to perform a similar service there.

Grant returned to CICS in the CICSPlex/SM Change Team, and later became a lead architect and developer for CICSPlex/SM for many years. In the last few years he led the team that brought in the CICS Deployment Assistant.

Grant was greatly respected by his friends and colleagues in the CICS and CPSM Development and Change Teams, both for his technical knowledge and for his friendly, helpful, and approachable character. He will be deeply missed by us all.

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Categories: CICS, CICS-L, CICSPlex SM, Grant

Life begins at forty

CICS - I am 40!

CICS is 40 years old today!

Today is forty years since CICS was first released to the unsuspecting world, in the month that saw the first Moon landing, and just weeks after the first flight of Concorde. While those other technological triumphs have faded away, CICS remains at the centre of the software industry and continues to run the world’s business.

Followers of this blog already know of CICS’s strengths, but this anniversary is a useful time to review some of the innovative features introduced by CICS in those four decades. It’s hard to imagine now, but all of the following, which we now take for granted, were difficult new concepts at the leading edge of technology when they were first introduced:

  • Separately priced software, unbundled from hardware, effectively spawning the “software industry”
  • An application programming environment that isolates programmers from having to understand low-level details of telecommunication and data storage devices
  • Support for multiple high-level language applications running concurrently
  • Support for the 3270 terminal, which was brand new in 1972, originally in monochrome but later in full colour
  • Exploitation of virtual storage
  • Client-Server architecture, through APPC and MRO
  • Atomic transactional access to files and databases, using two-phase commit
  • User identity management and security control
  • Distributed systems on multiple hardware platforms
  • High availability and warm takeover, with XRF
  • Support for Java and Enterprise Java Beans
  • Access from Web browsers over HTTP
  • Support for SOAP, Web Services, and the Service-oriented architecture.

And of course CICS continues to introduce leading-edge features with Event processing, Atom feeds, and RESTful access just some of the facilities available in the all-new CICS Transaction Server Versions 4.1.

Not bad for a forty-year old!

Categories: CICS, nostalgia

A SupportPac for creating Atom feeds

April 7, 2008 7 comments

SupportPac CA8K, released on 20 March 2008, shows you how to introduce some of the very latest Web technologies into your CICS TS system. The primary technology it demonstrates is how to create an Atom feed from existing CICS data, such as a Temporary Storage queue. The purpose of the SupportPac is to show that this can be done today, using existing CICS facilities. So it uses the funky new URIMAP and PIPELINE resources to map Atom feed request URLs into CICS resources that you want to publish. In its simplest form, this means that if you want to publish some data into a feed, all that your application needs to do is write the data on to a TS queue, and then let the SupportPac code do the heavy lifting of the Atom protocol.

Now you might have thought that PIPELINE definitions were only for use by SOAP and Web Services, but that’s not strictly true. You can also configure a pipeline to execute an arbitrary program as a message handler for any protocol, and that’s just what this SupportPac does to handle Atom. But it also uses the pipeline’s XML configuration file to provide some of the Atom metadata, and to help you to specify exactly which CICS resource you want to publish, and how its data is laid out.

If you want to publish CICS data that is not in a CICS TS queue, the SupportPac lets you do that, too. It can link to a program that you provide, which can extract data from wherever it likes – from your database manager, for instance – and return it in a container for insertion into the feed. There is a sample program that demonstrates using the sample FILEA file that is distributed with CICS.

Once you can deliver stuff into an Atom feed, it’s then fairly easy to request it from a Web browser using Ajax technology, and the SupportPac also includes some JavaScript to help you to do this. This could lead you on to develop mashups that incorporate CICS data, but the SupportPac doesn’t go that far.

The SupportPac doesn’t only let you request data from CICS, it also lets you manipulate it using a REST interaction style. So, as well as using the HTTP GET method to request TS queue items, you can use the POST, PUT, and DELETE methods to create, update and destroy them as well. The ability to use all four of these methods in a pipeline request did show up a CICS problem, so you have to apply the fix for PK58721 before using the SupportPac.

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