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May 4, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

Belfast, Northern Ireland-based Unibol Ltd has been previewing Unibol/400 at its international partners meeting in Belfast. It is a native AS/400 environment running under Unix and results from growing customer demand to move AS/400 applications over to open systems. Unibol sees environment emulators as a superior development route over software engineering tools, object-oriented programming and language translators. The success of the product, it says, lies in emulating a high percentage of OS/400 functionality despite the amount of development that this involves. The product will provide a fully featured command processing facility that incorporates a command compiler to create command objects for both standard and user-defined commands; a command analyser to validate, provide fast support for and to execute commands and a control language compiler that offers a faithful implementation of AS/400 Command Language syntax. RPG/400 version 2 is fully supported, including externally-described files, external calls and display subfiles, as is Cobol/400, and C can be integrated with RPG/400, Cobol/400 and Command Language programs in a Unibol/400 job. Unibol/400 supports disk files, providing support for AS/400 physical and logical file structures along with the access methods that application programs need based on Amalgamated Software of North America Inc’s Datagate product; display file support providing complete 5250 emulation protocol block mode terminal facilities on ASCII terminals, with subfiles and DDS-described help formats and user definable panel groups being supported in later releases. It supplies a full set of standard menus and supports use of system request key to interrupt an interactive job. Unibol/400 is currently in beta test and will move into controlled release later this year depending on the product stands up and the level of functionality adequate to support complete application suites, with general release expected in during 1995, by which time it will have been renamed because IBM has apparently copyrighted all /400 suffixes. Unibol was established in 1979 as a software services company under the name Software Ireland and was bought by Atlanta, Georgia-based Unicomp from its owners, the National Westminster Bank Plc, in 1993 when it was renamed. Ian Graham, vice-president of sales and marketing, said that the company has no plans to move into the services market as it see its as a risky business, and he is not convinced that it’s all its cracked up to be.

Software products that users want

Instead it believes in focussing on the software products that users in the market want today, making use of currently available technology, by developing products such as the new Unibol/400 rather than simply developing technology for its own sake. Other products it has on offer include Unibol/36 which enables System/36 users to convert their applications to Unix, based on the idea that it saves on re-engineering and new staff training and offers benefits of Unix price-performance; and its Unibol Desktop, which went into beta test last November, and is a tool that links host-based applications to their own icons on the Windows desktop.

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