Understanding Business Function and Rule Support in Natural Engineer

Issue 3, 2011 Download pdf

What if you could easily identify and document Business Functions and Rules? Imagine how much that knowledge could help simplify maintaining and re-engineering your applications. Natural Engineer, the go-to product for understanding Natural, COBOL, and JCL applications, provides just the tools you need to identify and document Business Functions and Business Rules to improve application maintenance and re-engineering. Already available in current versions of Natural Engineer (NEE), Business Functions and Business Rules will officially be released in Natural Engineer v8.2.2 at the beginning of Q2 2012!


Business Functions
In Natural Engineer, a Business Function is defined as an object type that is typically represented by one or more Natural programs (of any Natural object type). Business Functions are shown in the Natural Engineer navigation view under “Business Functions”. Filters can be defined to view only the business functions required. Defining filters with wild card notation and starting points are supported. The maintenance (add, modify, delete) of Business Functions is provided through the Business Function navigator.

A Natural Engineer Business Function consists of following information:

  1. Business Function Title: A short description of the Business Function
  2. Entry Point Application/Object: The Natural application that the Business Function belongs to and the program that represents the Business Function entry point
  3. Keywords: Keywords associated with the Business Function
  4. Comments: A more comprehensive description of the Business Function
  5. Extended Documentation: Detailed documentation for the business function that can link to a document, e.g. of type .DOC


Figure 1: The Business Function Documentation Dialog


Business Function Documentation
You can add and maintain business functions using the Business Function Documentation Dialog in Natural Engineer, as shown in Figure 1. You can add search words and keywords for Business Functions, a short description or detailed documentation via a link or URL to an external object such as a word document. Up to 20 keywords can be assigned to one Business Function. In the Business Function dialog you will see a list of all Business Functions which have already been defined. The List of Functions can be refined to define a new start position for the list.

Retrieving Business Functions with Natural Engineer Web Interface
Detailed information about Business Functions can easily be retrieved thanks to the Natural Engineer Silverlight web interface. Business Functions are found in the Natural Engineer Navigator under the term “Business Functions”. Using a simple right mouse click, information about the Business Functions can be displayed.

Figure 2: Business Functions displayed using the Natural Engineer web interface

As shown in Figure 2, the details include:

  • The Business Function documentation (Title)
  • The objects called—in and out—by the Business Function
  • A Business Function Xref diagram
  • A Business Function diagram showing the Map (IO) flow

Business Rules
A Business Rule is a statement or set of statements that defines or constrains some aspect of the business application and is identified with Natural Engineer field tracking.

Identify Business Rules with Field Tracking
With Natural Engineer Field Tracking, Business Rules can be identified by tracking a field backwards through all Natural statements used to calculate the result of that field. The field can be tracked inter-object wide. It is also possible to track a field forward. Field Tracking for Business Rule identification, as shown in Figures 3 and 4, can be invoked in the object viewer by selecting “Field Tracking Forward/Backward” and selecting the appropriate field.

Figure 3: Field Tracking with Natural Engineer

Harvesting Business Rules with Natural Engineer Impact Analy sis
With the powerful Natural Engineer Impact Analysis, you can search for Business Rules in the source code of an application. There are three recommended search methods that can indicate
the presence of Business Rules:

  1. Search for Natural Keywords (Example: Statements like Compute or Assign can indicate calculations for a business rule)
  2. Search for Field Names (Example: A field name like Tax_Calculation can represent a business rule
  3. Search for Literals (inclusive search in comments)

Searching for Literals in the source code and comments may be the most powerful feature to finding business rules in the source code. Let’s explore the following example of a Literal search.

Figure 4: Objects called from Business Function “Maintainpatient”

Step 1: Define the criteria
First set the criteria to find all references to validation rules in the source test of the application inclusive of comments as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Define criteria

Step 2: View impact results
The results of the impact analysis can be reviewed using the impact maintenance, shown in Figure 6. You see in all details the impacts and the associated parts in the source code. The impacts
are also marked and colored in the source code for better visibility.

Figure 6: View impact results in source code

Natural Engineer continues to evolve and provide comprehensive functionality for re-engineering Natural applications. Supporting Business Functions and Business Rules is instrumental in unravelling applications to modernize and re-engineer. The tips provided in this article enable you to use Business Functions and Business Rules features today to quickly harvest rules in Natural applications. Learn how others may have used these features or share your own experience on the Software AG Tech Community Natural Engineer Discussion Forum.

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