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PHP Web Application Development now a pillar for new IBM i Web Projects at BCD

BCD's Professional Services Group sees increased demand for PHP web application development, and web enablement of existing IBM i green
screen applications.

View this Press Release in PDF format »

For Immediate Release

CHICAGO, March 13, 2009 – Business Computer Design, Int’l. Inc. is seeing increased activity for its Professional Services Group (www.bcdsoftware.com/services) and expects that to expand in 2009. BCD’s services group specializes in developing new custom IBM i web applications and modernizing existing green screen applications. Factors influencing greater demand for BCD services include the addition of IBM i PHP web application development services using WebSmart PHP, and services to modernize existing IBM i green screen applications using Presto, BCD’s IBM i web enablement tool. A video version of this press release on BCD’s new professional services offerings can be viewed at http://www.bcdsoftware.com/ibmiservices/pr/video

PHP Web Development on the IBM i

PHP interest continues to grow at a strong pace in the IBM i community and that has lead to an increase in PHP web development services. In addition to WebSmart ILE, BCD offers WebSmart PHP, which was released in May 2007. “We’ve already completed numerous PHP based projects using WebSmart PHP.“ says Kevin Cronin, Director of BCD’s Professional Services Group. “WebSmart PHP extends our reach beyond development on the IBM i to other platforms. It integrates directly with IBM i DB2 and MySQL and facilitates development in a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL & PHP) environment.” WebSmart PHP is a rapid web application development tool for creating System i and multi-platform PHP web applications and is used by the services team to deliver PHP apps quickly and efficiently.

According to Cronin, “The transition from ILE CGI development to PHP has been easy for our developers. Conceptually, the development process is much the same; the WebSmart IDE is common to both environments. Several team members had prior experience with PHP. Their in-depth knowledge of HTML, JavaScript and other web technologies transferred directly to PHP development using WebSmart. Using PHP also allows our developers to take advantage of thousands of available functions. Recently, we completed a project using PHP functions to create a PDF on the fly and then email it to the client as part of a web application for a large transport company. This type of functionality would not be possible with an RPG CGI program.”

5250 Application Modernization

Presto, BCD’s rapid green screen modernization tool was unveiled in June 2008. Presto has generated a huge response. Based on the number of downloads, high enrolment in webinars and new sales BCD expects 2009 to be a very active year. Along with new web application development, customers looking for a complete solution that includes modernizing existing green screen applications have also hired BCD Professional Services. The group’s in-depth knowledge of HTML and JavaScript makes it easy for them to add new functionality to web enabled green screen applications with Presto that include: Links, Images, Google Maps, Flash charts and Graphs, Drop down boxes, AJAX to call data from other servers and more.

This adds significant value to the modernized application while retaining a significant part of the original code. For some organizations refacing existing applications is currently a better fit because of the smaller investment required compared to rewriting them and reusing the backend RPG logic as you can do with WebSmart PHP.

The Economic Advantages of using Services

Current economic conditions have forced many organizations to curtail any new hiring initiatives, and in many cases cut back on staffing. This has put pressure on IT departments to deliver new projects as well as accurately estimate costs.

Hiring BCD’s Professional Services Team to develop custom web applications has alleviated these challenges for many of our clients. The services team is able to react with rapid development and deployment of new applications without clients having to hire full-time staff members or incur overhead for the developer. Ellery Soifer, IT Manager for Tricots Liesse, sums it up as follows, “BCD allows me to get my app developed and work with their programmers so that I'm able to maintain and enhance the programs. This represents a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time web developer.”

Development shops across virtually all industries are straining under expanding workloads, accelerated deadlines and ongoing budget cuts. Management and stakeholders are growing less patient and want to minimize delays in getting new systems online. “While WebSmart development tools are easy for IBM i developers to use, many organizations simply don’t have the time or staff to do the development work. Our team is often contracted to develop an initial, time sensitive application. After that application is rolled out, we facilitate the knowledge transfer so our clients can maintain and enhance the application moving forward. The code base and documentation provided helps clients maintain the applications and can be used as a framework for new development,” says Cronin.

Another factor that contributes to BCD’s success can be attributed to their ability to accurately assess the scope of a project before any agreements are executed. “Software development estimates are notoriously inaccurate,” says Cronin. “We work with our clients up-front to establish a detailed specification for their project. This service allows us to clearly determine the scope of the project. As any experienced developer will tell you, estimating development time and costs is not always easy to do. I’m pleased to say that we have established a very good track record based on the experience we’ve gained, and the number of projects we’ve completed over the years.”

Services Overview

BCD’s Professional Services engagements are managed remotely with developers typically accessing client’s servers using a VPN connection. By eliminating travel expenses, customers save thousands of dollars. Also, by handling projects remotely, the company’s developers have access to numerous resources that greatly improves efficiency. “We have delivered services in this manner for several years now which has proven to be very effective,” adds Cronin.

Aside from handling complete projects, BCD Professional Services can also help clients with jump-start projects and work in tandem with their staff. In many instances, when final systems are delivered, many clients chose to take over the maintenance going forward. To expedite a smooth project transition for clients, BCD uses a structured knowledge transfer methodology. The team provides a variety of professional services including:

  • Building new IBM i or multi-platform web applications
  • Web enabling existing green-screen applications and adding new functions
  • Establishing portals, dashboards and web reports
  • Training staff on BCD products and in PHP development

If you have questions on BCD professional services, BCD’s application modernization solutions or PHP web app development, please contact BCD at (630) 986-0800. A video on all of BCD’s professional services offerings can be viewed at http://www.bcdsoftware.com/iseries400services/webconsultants.

Questions can be emailed to sales@bcdsoftware.com or call 630-986-0800.

About BCD

BCD is one of the most successful modernization tool providers in the IBM i marketplace, and has garnered the respect and recognition of top-level executives at IBM. Since their inception, BCD has stayed focused on the needs of the IBM i user and multi-platform.

BCD has received 35+ industry awards, including 13 software excellence awards for WebSmart. They have 30+ years of experience in the IBM midrange marketplace. Over 30,000 copies of their software solutions have been licensed worldwide by 10,000+ organizations. BCD is a charter member of the IBM i ISV Advisory Council and an IBM Advanced Business Partner.

BCD offers unparalleled Technical Support. BCD’s Professional Services group develops a wide range of PHP and ILE RPG browser based applications including B2B and e-commerce web sites.

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