Quick Background on my current CICS integration project

I’m currently working on a stop-gap legacy integration project that is geared toward data integration between a legacy CICS system and a new 3rd party product.  I have 2 major tasks in this project, the first being a web application for bulk data entry into both systems simultaneously and the second being cross-system data transformation and transfer.  The integration points between the two systems are expected to support operations for the next 12 months.  Past integration projects have been handled through cron’d UNIX scripts, PL/SQL stored procedures, triggers, CICS batch jobs, etc.  Past projects also have left a dearth of documentation in their paths.

The current integration approach to the CICS system is pre-defined, so I just have to work with “what is” in that regard.  I’ve had the joy of reading COBOL ctl files to complete requirements and design docs.  Integration involves FTPing flat files to and fro.

The 3rd party product has a service-based API, but service calls are not chunky at all; so interfacing through that is a bit too wordy for the batch processing that I’ll need to be doing.  To make things more fun, I have no ER diagrams for the new system’s DB (which has a couple hundred tables), many entity relationships are not supported by foreign keys, no one seems to know what sequences are used to generate keys, the 3rd party system’s source is closed and lacks technical documentation, I have no customer contact (from XP PoV, I only have a manager and a developer to interface with), my wife left me, and my dog died (okay, maybe not the last two).

In any case, this is proving to be a delightful challenge (ah yes, and I failed to mention that the client wants betas for 5 batch interfaces and a the web application written in 3 weeks).  The client wants the solution written in VB.Net and has asked that some “best practices” be introduced into the organization along the way.  I’ve been constructing a domain model(s) that can speak between the two systems and believe that I’m making good headway in understanding the business better.

I’ll be blogging (maybe?) on some of my approaches as I work though this project.  I’ve done a fair bit of VB6 in the past (distant past), but the VB.Net syntax has felt strange having done so much C# over the last few years (at least now I can relate better to the VB.Net guys’ questions at the local UG meetings).  Generics, attributes and reflection look especially weird.

As far as tools, I’ll be using some of the usual suspects, but will probably emphasize my use of NHibernate.  I’ve also had my first experience with using LDAP with forms authentication (if anyone wants an example I can do that too).  In fact, if there’s anything about this project that may be of interest to you, drop a comment and let me know.

VB.Net oddity of the day – Assignment/Comparison operator