Programmer not Jade-d despite changes

Don't ever be afraid of changing technologies, says Jade design and development consultant Kerry Glynn.

Don’t ever be afraid of changing technologies, says Jade design and development consultant Kerry Glynn.

Glynn helps organisations that use the development environment to build good object-oriented systems, giving them advice on how to design their applications, advise on performance tuning, coaching on development and helping manage the development process.

Over the past few years he has converted from Linc to Jade, both programming languages developed by Aoraki. The transition follows other changes in his 20-year IT career. The 42-year-old first worked with the Navy in Porirua as a database administrator and systems programmer on Sperry hardware. He then moved to PC programming (using Turbo Pascal and Dbase) and had a spell in the health industry in Christchurch as a systems programmer on IBM mainframes before ending up at Aoraki in 1987.

“No one should be afraid of change as many of the skills that you’ve learnt apply even though the tools may change," he says. "Capable people in one toolset can be equally capable with other tools given training, time and mentoring."

Glynn learnt Linc on joining Aoraki. Linc is a software tool used for programming Unisys mainframes, some Unix environments and Windows platforms. It was created in the late 1970s by Aoraki founder Sir Gil Simpson who then sold it to Unisys in the US.

Unisys and its customers used Linc to write systems for corporate clients worldwide, in the banking, retail and manufacturing sectors. Until June 1999, Aoraki was retained by Unisys as the engineering plant for Linc.

“Linc was pretty sophisticated in its day and it simplified the task of programming those platforms. Unisys still sees it as a pretty important technology for it,” says Glynn.

In 1997, he began switching to Jade as Unisys want to shift the engineering of Linc to one of its internal facilities. Jade is a software programming tool used for building big systems with many users that run on PC and Unix platforms. Aoraki created Jade in 1996 aiming to simplify the programming of corporate systems.

“The big difference is that Linc is based on Unisys and Unix terminals, whereas Jade is based upon Windows functionality. Also Linc sits on top of other databases, whereas Jade has its own database,” Glynn says.

Jade is not as pervasive as US technologies but has a strong development community in New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

Glynn began learning Jade by attending evening training courses run by Aoraki once a week and by using work-supplied books and software at home. He also learnt on the job from mentors at work. It took a few weeks to reach a ‘first’ level of basic programming, but took a year to reach a design and OO stage.

Knowing Jade meant Glynn had shifted from relational (and prior) technologies with green screen characters to a Windows event-driven GUI. It has made him more marketable, but he says he hasn’t explored its effect on his salary. While he enjoyed learning the new technology, he is still using computer software to develop applications for customers.

Glynn says retraining helped Aoraki keep staff with experience in building big systems.

“It’s pretty hard to find good people like that in the market today. In most cases it’s easier to teach these kind of people a new language than try and educate people on the basics of enterprise computing,” he says.

Glynn will be ready for the next leap in technology, but with Unisys still using Linc after 20-odd years he feels Jade will still be around for a while yet.

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