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IBM Beacon Awards 2009 FinalistRevolutionizing Legacy System Modernization

LANSA's Rapid Application Modernization Process (RAMP) is the solution for legacy system modernization that addresses both your immediate tactical needs and strategic long-term modernization requirements. RAMP is a reengineering tool that lets you rapidly consolidate your 5250 applications into a graphical application framework to create composite applications. You can then incrementally replace your 5250 programs with new components in a timeframe that makes sense to your organization.

Why is RAMP different?

RAMP’s ability to combine the old with the new addresses both your immediate tactical issues for green screen to GUI modernization and your long-term redevelopment and replacement strategies for 5250 modernization.

With RAMP you start with a modern application. The application framework is already a rich-client or Web application where you combine your 5250 application with other applications to assemble a composite application. You evolve the resulting composite application by adding new parts and gradually replacing the 5250 application.

Just adding graphical controls to screens in a 5250 application will not enhance its business value. RAMP raises the legacy system modernization bar to a new level and delivers much more than conventional refacing technologies that provide little more than presentation enhancements. Applications modernized with RAMP also expand your choice of client devices including, Windows, Linux, Apple Mac, iPad and Android tablets.

For legacy system modernization you can use RAMP to mashup and consolidate functionality by combining 5250 and Windows applications with new components to create a composite application with a point-and-click graphical user interface.
Use RAMP to mashup and consolidate functionality by combining 5250 and Windows applications with
new components to create a composite application with a point-and-click graphical user interface.

What is RAMP?

RAMP is an application framework deployable as a Windows rich-client or Web browser application. You use the framework to mashup and consolidate functionality by combining 5250 and Windows applications with new components to create composite applications. The framework allows you to assemble composite applications from components built with RPG, Visual LANSA, Visual C# .NET, HTML pages, AJAX and many more.

The framework comprises a graphical user interface modelled on Microsoft Outlook, navigation tools, search filters, search results lists and an integrated work area with one or more tab panels. The tab panels display details from components and business objects. For example, the details for a customer business object will include customer name, address and credit rating. A tab panel can contain an existing 5250 screen, a C# component (Windows forms or Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)) or an HTML page.

A key component of RAMP is the metadata repository. The repository simplifies the task of combining existing with new applications by allowing them to share the same set of business rules. The repository holds business rules and definitions (such as field properties, display components, formula fields, validation rules and triggers) independent from the program code. Separating business rules from program code makes them available to any application. Rule maintenance and enhancement occurs in one place and the rules apply consistently across all applications.

No specific IBM i (System i, iSeries, AS/400) hardware upgrades and no i/OS (i5/OS, OS/400) operating system upgrades are required to deploy an application modernized using RAMP.


Snap existing 5250 screens into a rich GUI framework comprised of a graphical user interface,
navigation tools, search filters, search results lists and an integrated work area with one or more tab panels.

What are the stages when using RAMP for 5250 modernization?

Stage 1: Prototype and design the new application

The first stage defines your modernized application design.

Using RAMP’s Instant Prototyping Assistant, you develop a new vision for your modernized application and decide the parts of the application that require significant reengineering. RAMP removes the constraints of the user interface imposed by the design of your 5250 application. The modernized application will operate like a modern Windows rich-client or Web browser application.

Most importantly, the outcome from this stage is a working prototype of the application that is not thrown away. It evolves into a modernized application through Stages 2 and 3 of the RAMP modernization journey.

Stage 2: Navigation, integration and initial enrichment

Stage 2 uses the RAMP Application Navigation Assistant to reuse existing 5250 programs and snap them into the application prototype produced in Stage 1.

This stage retains the look-and-feel of the 5250 application converted to a graphical user interface within the framework. Adding RAMP navigation means that users no longer move through a menu hierarchy. You do this by identifying the menus and snapping them into the application framework. Now the entire 5250 application with modernized navigation is available to your users.

RAMP lets you mix-and-match your existing 5250 screens and batch jobs with brand new components that execute on IBM i (System i, iSeries, AS/400), Windows or Linux servers.

At the end of this stage you have a fully functional and modernized application ready for deployment.

Stage 3: Ongoing reengineering and enrichment

The final stage builds on the modernized application developed in Stages 1 and 2. You decide which programs will be enriched and enhanced and the depth of modernization to apply.

At your own pace, you incrementally replace functions from your 5250 applications with new, modern, repository-based LANSA components that support new technologies such as Web services and SOA.

If server platform independence is a vital objective of your overall legacy system modernization strategy, replace the RPG, COBOL and DDS dependent programs with new components.

The final result is more than modernization, it is a fully reengineered application built with your vision, to your plan and ready for your platform of choice.

You can deliver a modernized 5250 application incrementally. You don't have to do it all in one go.
You can deliver a modernized 5250 application incrementally. You don't have to do it all in one go.

How long does legacy system modernization take?

The answer depends on how much of your application you intend to modernize and the extent to which you add new components.

The quickest step is navigation modernization. Typically, this task takes about a day for an application with around ten menus.

Modernization of the user interface takes longer than modernizing the navigation, but adds significantly more business value. The length of time for this task depends on the complexity of the application and the extent of planned modernization. In stage 1 you determine the parts of the application you wish to modernize, for example, by combining two 5250 screens to display on one tab in the framework. During stage 2, developers will create a new form on a tab within the framework and configure RAMP to retrieve the details from the 5250 application. How long this step takes depends on how much of the 5250 application you wish to modernize in this way. Some parts of the application may not be modernized before they are replaced by new components.

The key points are:

  • Navigation modernization is very rapid.
  • Application modernization takes longer, but adds significantly more business value.
  • You can deliver a modernized 5250 application incrementally. You don't have to do it all in one go.
  • RAMP does not force you to modernize the entire 5250 application.

Modernize your 5250 applications at your own pace

You determine the extent and speed of 5250 modernization. You determine the level of consolidation. You determine the most useful enhancements to your application. You can Web-enable parts of your application to provide a self- service portal, consume and publish Web services or deliver new .NET components – all within the same application framework that will serve as your platform for full enterprise application modernization.

Run your modernized applications on a wide selection of client devices

Provide your users with flexibility in their choice of client device. Your RAMPed applications deployed to the Web support the Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer browsers running on netbooks, laptops and mobile devices such as iPads and Android tablets. This means that existing 5250 RPG or COBOL applications are available to anyone anywhere!

Synchronize IT with business needs

Companies rewriting their core applications with traditional tools or implementing new packaged solutions must continue operating their existing systems while they redevelop or migrate. By the time they are ready for implementation, often years later, requirements have changed and the new application is already out of date. RAMP’s incremental approach to legacy system modernization lowers the risk of failure, speeds up delivery time and synchronizes the modernized application with the evolving needs of the business.

Boost user productivity and minimize disruption

The RAMP modernization process is non-intrusive, easy to deploy and takes into account the real-world requirements of companies who want to modernize their 5250 applications without disrupting day-to-day business activities. By consolidating functionality from multiple in-house developed and packaged applications into a single application framework, you increase user productivity significantly. New functionality can be introduced incrementally, without serious impact to business operations. The user interface becomes consistent across all of the applications.

The benefits of RAMP

Mix the new with the old and improve ROI

Extend the life of your existing applications by building composite applications. Mix modernised 5250 applications with new components to extend their capabilities and improve your return on investment (ROI) in your applications.

Mixing the new with the old is a unique feature of RAMP that goes beyond just taking 5250 applications from green screen to GUI or to the Web. RAMP allows you to add components to extend the application with features that are impractical for a 5250 program. For example, you can retrieve a part number from a 5250 application and use a new multi-media component to show a video of the associated part structure.

Designed for today and suitable for tomorrow’s business environment

The framework provides the foundation for multiple applications and deploys as a Windows rich-client or Web browser application. The framework insulates the application from the complexities of the underlying hardware and operating systems. This means that your modernised applications will always be ready and enabled for changes in technology. Your developers concentrate on building the software to support business operations.

Improve user productivity

Users used to graphical user interfaces will feel familiar with applications modernized using RAMP. The application is easier to use because users do not need to navigate through the 5250 application screen hierarchy. The modernized navigation produced during the RAMP project follows industry standards for graphical user interface design and thereby simplifies the interaction for users.


RAMP removes the constraints of your 5250 applications. With RAMP you choose what parts of the 5250 applications you want to modernise and you choose the user interface (Windows rich-client or Web browser applications).

RAMP offers flexibility in making your 5250 applications available to users. No longer are you limited to 5250 emulation software installed on every computer or 5250 emulation presented in a browser.

Faster development means IT is more responsive to business needs

The framework provides the plumbing for the applications, allowing developers to focus on building the business functions. This approach to 5250 modernization reduces the code developers need to write. RAMP helps developers assemble composite applications from components making the application less prone to error and simpler to test.

The prototype evolves into the modernised application so the effort needed to build the prototype is productive and not wasted as is the case when a developer codes from a drawing or wire frame model.

Easy component deployment

RAMP reduces administrative costs by simplifying deployment. Only new components and/or enhanced components need to be deployed to the application server. There is no need to redeploy the whole framework and application.

The rapid development and deployment capability allows you to provide users with continual enhancements. You do not have to wait until every part of an application has been modernised or enhanced before deploying new functionality.

RAMP features:

User interface

  • Snap existing 5250 screens into a rich GUI framework – RAMP gives your green screen applications a Microsoft Outlook-style user interface familiar to most users.
  • Solve the 5250 application navigation problem – Replace complex 5250 tree-like hierarchical menu structures that have many hidden paths with a point-and-click graphical user interface.
  • Enhance the image of the application – A modernized user interface can vastly improve the image of an application.

Modernize and extend

  • Add new features to the application at your own pace – Extend the application’s functionality with email, video, voice, Web browser interfaces and desktop integration without disruption to your business and customers.
  • Extend the modernized application by adding components built with Microsoft development tools – Write components in C# using Microsoft Visual Studio and snap the components into the framework to extend the functionality of the 5250 application.
  • No need for source code – RAMP is a non-intrusive method for 5250 modernization. RAMP requires no change to the 5250 applications and therefore does not need the source code. You can modernize packaged applications even when you don’t have the source code.


  • The framework is mindful of performance and operates on a load-on-demand model. The initial load requires only the essential components. The framework loads other components only when the user invokes functions in the application that use the components.

Developer tools

  • Developers can take advantage of components shipped with the framework – The framework includes ready-to-use components that developers can implement when modernizing 5250 applications.
  • RAMP supports prototyping when modernizing 5250 applications – Versions of the prototype can be quickly emailed to users for evaluation and feedback.
  • XML schema – The modular design of the framework means that many developers can work on different parts of the application at the same time.
  • Simpler to code – Developers work on components rather than the whole application.
  • Faster testing – Testers can check individual components. When the components pass their tests they are added to the framework and then tested in the application.
  • Developers do not need the source code – With RAMP developers do not need to change the existing applications and don’t require the RPG, COBOL or DDS source code.


  • Generate Windows rich-client applications.
  • Generate Web browser applications that support Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer 9 or later.
  • Run the modernized applications on your choice of platform: IBM i (System i, iSeries, AS/400), Windows or Linux.

Gradual introduction to object-oriented concepts

  • RAMP is based on object-oriented concepts such as inheritance. The benefits of object-oriented-programming methods will become more obvious to developers as they progress through the 5250 modernization process.


  • Supports multilingual and DBCS applications