We are currently a mainframe shop but will be moving to NaturalONE sometime next year. We will possibly have 100 developers. Any tips for an initial setup? Install NaturalONE on all developers laptops or on a citrix server somewhere? If we go for all laptops will that impact future upgrades? What other things should be considered? At the moment I have many questions relating to performance / security / setup so would rather see what type of setup works in the real world than go down the wrong path. Any tips, shared experiences gladly welcomed.
That is a question with a complicated answer since it all depends on what you want to achieve. Do you want to use NaturalONE as ‘just another’ editor, i.e. editing directly on the mainframe, or do you want to go the route of taking the editing off the server and do it locally in Eclipse instead?
Both ways have their own particularities and their own pros and cons. My own, very subjective, feeling is that using NaturalONE as a straight mainframe editor is like using a Ferrari to do the shopping. Sure, you will have a lot of people looking at you and praising you for that nice looking car, but when it comes to bringing home the shopping you will notice that it actually doesn’t have a few of the things that you need (like a lot of space, for example). And a lot of the bells and whistles that it does have are not really meant to be used while doing the shopping, making them a lot less usefull.
According to SAG NaturalONE was always meant to be used to ‘decentralise’ mainframe development. Yes, you can use it to edit directly on the server, but SAG have consistently refused to add particular requested server functionality to it, stating this. One thing that is sorely missing, for example, is a command line like in SPoD. There is a command line in NaturalONE but that only works on the server, you cannot use it to open a source for editing in NaturalONE for example. This means that selecting the right source that you want to edit can be a bit of a pain compared to how it works in SPoD. That said, as an editor Eclipse is still one of the best as long as you take the time to get to know it a bit and there are a lot of other very usefull things in there.
Anyway, getting your sources off the server and into a versioning system has the advantage that you will be able to leverage existing (or new) dev-ops tools, it will make it a lot easier to do automated testing for example(although this requires a lot of other things as well). If you are in a shop that also has Java developers, bringing the Natural developers into the world of pc based editing with Eclipse, an SVC system and other standard tools will bring those 2 groups (previously literally ‘worlds apart’) much closer together.
Regarding the Citrix or laptop issue, that would also depend on what you want to achieve. NaturalONE can run on Citrix. We have it running here, although it took a little bit of tweaking that I don’t really know all the details of. You have to realise that in a lot of shops load balancing is used for Citrix, which means that you have more than one server and depending on the load the user will be directed to one of those servers. Since Eclipse is not meant to be ‘server’ software, and your workspace would normally just be on the machine itself, you will have different workspaces on each of the Citrix servers. We did try to put the workspace on a personal network share, but that impacted the performance considerably. I think in the end we only installed it on one server, so it is used without load balancing.
As you already realised, there are a lot of things to consider when starting this journey but it can be very rewarding. I hope this will help you somewhat, I will be glad to answer any specific questions you have.
Hi Ronald. Thanks for that - a very comprehensive reply. Your answer has just confirmed our thoughts. It is a big step that needs to be thought through. The Citrix comments are very useful especially with relation to the workspace of the users in a load balancing environment. I will take that on board. I am sure we will have more questions but they will only surface when we start to use the product in anger.