CASE STUDIES

A rich Windows Energy Monitoring System Was Transposed in a Calendar Month to Run on Windows Azure

Limon

“The first time we saw the migrated application running over the web, we couldn’t tell the difference between this version and the original Windows application and that says it all. We were truly amazed by the results and completion time.”

Lars Martin, Product Manager

Overview

Limón GmbH is an energy efficiency service and solution provider that transforms innovations explored and developed by the University of Kassel into energy efficiency products and services that increase the profitability of companies in the course of rising energy prices. Limón’s focus is supporting their customers in the entire optimization process; from identification to implementation with innovative and customized solutions.

é.VISOR is an energy monitoring system by Limón that, in addition to collecting relevant energy and production data, allows users to generate key data and to evaluate energy efficiency. It also supports relevant processes by using the energy management and overall a tool for increasing the energy efficiency.

Business needs

Limón chose to move its é.VISOR energy monitoring system to a web-based technology to offer the application as a SaaS via web browsers and through the cloud computing model by deploying to Windows Azure.

The original Windows application is extremely data-centric and extensively relies on a dynamic and editable visual presentation of that data in several types of graphs and charts. The company looked to duplicate the complete functionality, behavior and design of the original Windows application in a web environment. Thus, in order to maintain the original application’s look and feel, it was necessary to migrate the rich interface as is including the variety of graphs, charts, graph annotation, drag & drop control, and many other functions.

In addition, the rich, data-centric nature of the application conveyed real concerns on the part of the customer about the overall performance with the move from a local deployment to being served over the web. Needless to say, response time and performance were also very important requirements in this process, as well as the need for a reliable solution.

The Solution

The Limón team sought a solution to web-enable their é.VISOR system. In their search for an alternative to a complete rewrite of the application for web, they found Gizmoxts, which seemed to perfectly meet all of their requirements.

The first step was generating the assessment report which automatically analyzed the original applications code and indicated that about 95% of the code can be automatically migrated to web with TranspositionTool.

“We downloaded the free AssessmentTS and were quite surprised to see that almost our entire code could be transferred automatically by the Instant CloudMove tools. Compared to our other alternatives, it was by far the best option, so we decided to go with it and see if Gizmox could live up to their promises.” - Lars Martin, Product Manager

The report also indicated that the other 5% of the code would need some manual attention and work while listing the potential challenges in the process of moving from client/server to web. Among the items “flagged” in the report as potential challenges were:

  • 3rd party ZedGraphControl for Windows Forms
  • Custom Drag & Drop control
  • Intensive use of Table Layout Panel control
  • Non-standard use of “Tool Strip”
  • Modality issues

 

After submitting the detailed report to Gizmox, the migration team was able to provide a fixed price quotation and an anticipated completion time of 35 days (profound QA not included).

The migration process then began using the Mapping Studio, which defined the actions that should be taken for the “flagged” items and the custom behaviors found in the assessment report placed within the 5% manual part.

During the mapping process, the team found that with only minor tweaks to ASP.NET, the Windows Forms application ZedGraph can be used in the target web environment. This prevented the team from either rewriting the user code of this component or having to replace it with a compatible web-based component.

When the team completed the mapping work, they were able to run the TranspositionTool on the code. This tool combines the original code with the rules defined at the mapping stage and generates the code accordingly.  “Using our tools we were able to achieve code that compiles in a matter of only a day or two, which allowed us to open the code in Visual Studio Task Solution and access the manual touch-ups.” - Eyal Albert, Gizmox Migration Team Leader

Another task that required manual touch-ups and that the team chose to resolve after the transposition process was the implementation of the Drag & Drop control. The team succeeded in implementing this Windows Forms custom control without extensive rewriting or replacement. The migration team offered a way to reuse the custom control with only minor changes to the code in order to bridge the architecture gap between the original client/server technology and the target web environment. The required changes used existing ASP.NET infrastructure and thus were fairly easy and simple to implement.

“Now that we have completed the migration and are familiar with the application and the code, I can confidently say that rewriting it would have taken between 6 and 12 months, and we have done it in one month.” – Eyal Albert

Benefits

Choosing the unique TS solution generated huge savings in terms of time, personnel resources and of course finances. The savings begins even before the actual migration is undertaken, since this solution doesn’t require any understanding of the application as opposed to most other alternatives. As a result, the customer saved the time and resources of putting together a scenario definition or analyzing the application screens.

As for the migration itself, the application was fully migrated to a web-based environment within only one month and with only one developer dedicated to the task, while maintaining the exact capabilities and functionalities of the locally-installed, original Windows application.

“The first time we saw the migrated application running on the web, we couldn’t tell the difference from the original Windows application, except it ran within a browser, and that says it all. We were truly amazed by the results, the completion time and the fact that Gizmox lived up to all of their initial promises.” – Lars Martin

TS tools successfully migrated about 95% of the code automatically as predicted by the AssessmentTool and allowed the reuse of 99% of the original Windows Forms code. Reusing most of the original code (including a large portion of the code that was not automatically transposed) means that future development and maintenance of the application should be easy due to the familiarity of the Limón development team with the migrated code. A rewrite would have completely changed the code and required the developers to adapt to new concepts and learn new skills.

Moreover, the migrated application utilizes ASP.NET, which contributes to an improved performance over the web and additional savings on cloud expenses by reducing the consumption of resources.

Finally, among the adaptations that the solution provides to fit web environments were the provision of cross-browser compatibility for the application and flexible resizing of the screen to accommodate different usages and screen resolutions.

 

 

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A Windows Health Care Application successfully migrated to cross-platform web in less than 2 months

Mihealth

“When we received the project estimations from the migration experts at Gizmox we were a bit skeptical at first as it seemed too good to be true… not only that the solution was exactly what we needed but it was also priced lower than all other alternatives.”  

Dr. Wendy Graham.

Overview

mihealth™ is a health care application that empowers patients with the information they require to take better control of their own health and wellness by combining a physician-validated personal health record with messaging functionality. This approach not only reduces dependency on the health care system but also facilitates a proactive approach to health management so overall health and wellness could improve dramatically.

Mihealth Global Systems Inc. is a private company that is offering a new way to organize, manage and communicate a summary of the patient's health and relevant personal information in a form that is available to the patient at all times. Critical health information will be validated by their physician.

Business Needs

During its official launch of mihealth™, Mihealth Global Systems Inc. experienced significant interest from the medical community within Canada. However, clinics/physicians that wanted to use mihealth™ were fragmented in their use of operating systems. They often used older, outdated versions of Windows, as well as Mac computers. This presented a significant challenge as mihealth™ was only compatible with Windows, and had strict system requirements. In addition, the individuals who installed the application in clinics/physicians’ offices were traditional sales representatives and usually not technically proficient.

Mihealth needed a cost-effective way to accommodate all operating systems without reducing the existing functionality and security. As a result, it was determined that a web-based version of mihealth™ was the best way to overcome the installation roadblocks. As tablets’ and especially the iPad’s market share is growing very quickly, support for iPad also became a requirement. Still, it was important that the web-based system would incorporate the same functionality while reproducing the successful look and feel of the Windows system’s UI.

The Solution

Mihealth searched for a solution to turn their local Windows application to a cross-platform web-based solution without rewriting the application and with minimal changes and resources involved. Gizmox’s TS seemed exactly what Mihealth were looking for in terms of their requirements as it provides migration tools that allow converting the existing Windows integrated application, with its layers of encryption and security, into a web-based application that could be accessed by all platforms.

Running TS assessment tool on the existing application provided estimations that almost 98% of the code could be automatically migrated into rich ASP.NET using the TS tools. “When we received the project estimations from the migration experts at Gizmox we were a bit skeptical at first as it seemed too good to be true” said Dr. Wendy Graham, Mihealth CEO and added “not only that the solution was exactly what we needed but it was also priced lower than all other alternatives.”

Those optimistic estimations turned into reality very quickly as the code migration was completed by Gizmox in only a couple of weeks. Then, in less than 2 months the entire project was completed and the migrated web-based physician tool was ready for delivery.

Benefits

Gizmox TS conversion was accomplished at a very cost-effective price, and in an extremely short period of time to meet Mihealth’s business needs. Gizmox was very responsive to Mihealth’s input and the finished product was being used by physicians within 2 months of the project start date which means Mihealth delivered the updated application to their customers in the tight schedule.

The final product was a completely identical version to the Windows application, with all of the functionalities, appearance, and feel, but was available through a web-browser from anywhere in the world. This allowed Mihealth to reach all clinics/physicians without turning away any potential customers. Implementation of mihealth™ also became much easier, as sales representatives did not face any of the previous complications when installing the application in a busy clinic on unfamiliar hardware or operating software. “Migrating mihealth to a web-based technology means we can now reach more customers with much less operative efforts and resources on our side. I can definitely say it made us more competitive” concluded Dr. Graham.

Screenshots

 

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Fortune 500 - projects of the year 2014

Fortune500

Two projects in a Fortune 500 company won “projects of the year in 2014”. These mission critical applications, close to 1 million lines of code, were Transposed in four months. 98.5% of 110,000 automated acceptance tests scripts passed at the first run: “this is unprecedented”!

 Fortune 500, Health benefits company, IT manager

Overview

Insurance claims and reporting is one of the critical activities for insurance companies and medical health professionals. In the US, medical health insurance claims is a complex process. Without a well-designed and verified application, making claims and assuring payment, becomes a Herculean task. Large health insurance providers rely on custom applications to run and manage their customers’ claims. As of 2013, this large health insurance provider served 35 million members directly and through affiliates. The two applications needed modernizing quickly, pressured by both new regulatory requirements and need to upgrade from old operating systems to new ones.

Business needs

A Fortune 500 company needed to extend and upgrade their VB6 developed applications. Regulatory requirement and new Windows environment pushed the company to modernize their application. At one point the company considered complete rewrite. Transposition was an alternative to a complete new application rewrite. Non-standard code refactoring and reengineering needed both the speed of automatic and the flexibility of manual refactoring. The Gizmox POC phase (Proof of Concept) enabled detailed assessment of the refactoring involved in Transposing and customer approval. A POC also gives a snapshot of the benefit in Transposition. While the application ran well on legacy hardware and OS, once the company needed the modernization, the need was immediate. Gizmox needed to provide a solution quickly. A quality code optimized to the company standards was part of the POC evaluation.

The Solution

Gizmox Transposition service started with a POC (Proof of Concept) of 100,000 lined of code. Gizmox Transposition POC is a complete Transposition process performed on a small subset of a real application. The POC was completed in three weeks. It showed the technical owners (end customers) the quality of the code, and refactoring ability. The business owners received the ability to predict how a full project will pass the full Transposition process. Also, since a POC of real code passes through the complete Transposition, completing a full application project is a matter of applying the POC rules across the application, and adding additional rules to handle the challenges that were not handled in the POC.

The Gizmox Transposition process needed to deal with customized code refactoring and reengineering updated to organizational and .NET standards (and best practices). Here, Transposition is a great fit with the need to refactor code and update (modernize) code to new environments (i.e. new OS and API targets). In addition, the automatic translation, mapping and architecting with the Transposition Studio, essentially automates all processes and enables not only fast work completion but also high quality resultant code. The newly Transposed applications passed 98.5% of 110,000 automated test scripts right after the first compile and code smoke tests. This made the company’s acceptance test shorter than anticipated. The “new”   Transposed application will enable application extension and maintenance in the latest development environment (i.e. latest Microsoft Visual Studio).

Benefits

Gizmox Transposition was accomplished at a cost-effective and in a short period of time. Gizmox was responsive to the customer’s input both in requirements for code refactoring and re-engineering as well as in high quality new .NET code base. These were crucial factors in the decision to use Gizmox Transposition instead of a full application rewrite. With a completely Transposed application as if written from scratch, extension, addition and modification of an original application are possible. Transposition gives new life to an application. The original legacy functions, features and even user interfaces are left as they were. This benefit is clearly an excellent solution in the case of new regulatory requirement, modernized OS environments (which do not support legacy applications coded in old languages, in this case VB6) and new business requirements which fall in addition to the other legacy modernization requirements.

Technical Details

This project’s Transposition process was a complete flow with a set of steps. The steps in the process perform code refactoring (change or re-engineer), mapping, translating and behavior substitution as well as application architecting (to a new WinForms target environment). After each of the processing steps, a top level step manages the individual steps and put together the final application. The Transposition Studio prepares a code base in one language and environment to be compiled in another language and environment (API, architecture, components, code patterns, etc.) Converting this project from VB6 to WinForms in the Transposition Studio uses rules to define component mapping, code mapping (identify and substitute code patterns), preparing code with refactoring (change and correct code statements), change the application through re-engineering, and finally code mapping and substitution through behavior rules. Using a rule based process enables fast and accurate mapping of code components. Here a POC (Proof of Concept) phase is extremely helpful in predicting the amount of work and time to completion.

Once the rules are defined for the source and target environments, the Transposition Studio tests code with these “change rules” and give the user a before-and-after view. Since the work is done with rules, the overall translation, substitution, mapping and assembly functions become a well-defined workflow. The Transposition Studio is also designed to give a wide range of experts and workers freedom to work on various levels. Just as designing code using a standard IDE is used by architects, coders, debuggers and QA specialists, so is Transposition Studio designed to work for a wide range of domain experts. This project proved a good example for one senior engineer defining rules and running test cases while a few junior engineers performing the bulk of mapping, and code testing tasks.

 

 

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