#1 – First things first… let’s get “one” thing sorted

Welcome to the blog, enjoy the tongue in cheek deriding and let’s begin this journey together. Yes and Mr Natural One is a play on words, while NaturalONE is involved, so is Mr Natural, did you know one is the loneliest number?

Welcome my weary comrade, let’s hope this is the beginning of solving some of your problems and expanding some of that significantly declining grey matter.

Whether you stumbled on this site from a search result or are forced advised from a colleague, you are not obliged to discern my views, but rather, I encourage something particular from you. Our long standing community of “lost art” developers (Mainframe, Cobol, Adabas, Natural etc.) purvey a renowned reputation of exclusively retaining knowledge and retiring without passing that knowledge on (and numbers of “lost art” developers worldwide continues to dwindle). I would encourage you to be open, publish something yourself, whether it is through a forum, through this site, contributing to the GitHub Xenat project even in StackOverflow, please contribute!

Your knowledge is valuable, your contribution will continue to benefit our community and ensure the master techniques derived from an ‘aeon’ of software and hardware development are passed on. Things like understanding the precious data integrity, what and why field definition is important, harnessing speed through correct method specification and further demonstrating the cornerstone of your businesses data operations (and ultimately the clients we all impact) continues to flourish in this digital transformation era.

Right, now the formalities are over, let’s begin.

Why did I make this?

  • The mainframe editor is now defunct “NaturalONE and only”, most of my team (and teams around the world) echoed a collective panic! Fear not, there are ways forward and hopefully even brighter horizons.
Try getting rid of this bad boy though, am I right IBM?
  • NaturalONE (Eclipse Hybrid by Software AG) seemed daunting, scary to most of my established developer colleagues. In a way to alleviate their troubles and demystify the complexity, rather then surmise manuals and structure courses, I found talking and guiding in a relatable way much more beneficial to help overcome fears. One of my key sayings when questioned on certain items or when things go wrong is “once you understand and appreciate the techniques of the IDE, it will become second nature”
NaturalONE – It really can do all this, and more!
  • I made some funky “frankenstein” natural / web combinations to make it easy (and not as daunting!) for people to code on a mainframe still yet fool them into thinking it is a cool, swaggerised all singing dancing application. Luckily for you, I have open sourced this too! I bet you have a Natural tool or implementation you are dying to get out there, so please feel free to contribute or ask me to get it in. It’s coming soon so stay tuned, the space is secured: https://github.com/Trentan/XeNat
Check out the potential of things to come in my open source XeNat solution, this is trawling modules over multiple environments / DBIDs, pretty neat huh!
Automating N2O job creation and deployment while co-existing on the Mainframe (Ant script or Git not required***Though as always recommended), try it, you’ll like it!
  • To further improve my own knowledge too!
  • I strongly believe we have a tight knit community with a focus of our organisations of integrity – to cut it short, really good, genuine people. This is my way of giving back to that combined user group.

So, Mr “Think’s He’s Smart Guy”, what content are you going to publish then?

As I said before, just like Magical Mr Mistoffelees, “I’ve got plenty of tricks up my sleeve” (A) I didn’t say that before B) I don’t think he ever said that, it was just a shameless reference to the first magician I thought of, sigh, seriously the one out of “Cats the musical”, Oh well, I never).

I will try to focus on things I’ve picked up with Natural One which will hopefully benefit you, among a plethora of other mainframe terms, Natural code conventions and Software AG conventions (not to be mistaken with conferences, but those too).

While we’re on the subject, i’ll get on a soap box: It is with much chagrin, I am heeding the advice of Australian celebrities with a staunch objective to resist releasing a podcast. Not that podcasts don’t have their place, but when you’re searching the web for a quick solution or a good read, they don’t “cut to the chase”. Plus this way, you can imagine my voice in anyway you want, another positive?

I’m not going to keep you in suspense any longer, I have a personal wiki I made (and I strongly encourage you to adopt devOps asap or at least research a little if you haven’t started yet) which I will ‘blogify’ on a weekly basis. I will also monitor the Software AG forums for things that peak my interest and also this blog will hopefully generate the banter required to produce further topics.

Here is the list, i’ll try add to it over the weeks, but it’s a start, this table will be the main display identifier for the Table of contents page for quick searching. (When I get going, if the blog title exists and there is a link, that means there is a blog page all wrapped in my lovely colloquialisms and soliloquy 🙂 ).

Here’s the link to all of the site current (and future content!) – Updated sparingly. Table of Contents (It’s also available in the top menu for a quick “keyboard shortcut” [ctrl+f] – similar to a macro in a mainframe emulator).

Take a good look and feel free to ask for something you would like featured (either through contact me or comments).

Two different blog styles? Really?

Blog pages will carry this unabashed classless charade double entendre, just like the one you are enduring now. Fear not, there is a method to my madness, or at least that’s what i’ve told myself.

Example pages will cut the jovial demeanour (mostly) and demonstrate good practice (i’d put best, but you can’t please everyone). These are great if you don’t want to wade through my ramblings and rumblings and just want to get straight to the point and solve a problem. Most of my blog posts will nearly always point to an Example page (or examples hosted elsewhere in the universe).

I’ll give you the hot tip

Right, now i’m really laying down the law of my blog! So i’ll include a hot tip or fervent response in every blog, just to sweeten the deal. So elegantly named, here’s the first one:

Tip of the Blog-berg

If you are not familiar with DevOps yet, but crave organisation in your life, I’ve recently switched from Google Tasks to a product called Notion. It is fantastic and similar to Confluence {Wiki} / Jira {Task management}, but all rolled into one for your own personal use (or your teams. Check it out, recently they have allowed personal use free! Check out the cool templates and set yourself some todo lists and a wiki for your household or team!

As another wild ride bonus, given we’re all new to this ‘touchy feeling’ scenario and breaking down the barriers for our community.

Even though really we are probably all stranded behind some desolate, blank, dark flashing screens… no thanks to Covid-19!

The fine folks from Software AG are going to “link me up” for some quick 5 minute interviews with a varying array of outstanding developers, committed technicians, new starts to adabas and natural, executive leadership and everything in between. Stay tuned and i’ll be sure to post them in my blog (along with a dedicated Mr Natural One YouTube channel!)

How I imagine some of my interviews might go – credit https://imgur.com/gallery/ZKgM8

Finally (wow you made it this far, good on you!), as it is always nice to finish with that warm fuzzy feeling, thank you for embarking on this journey with me, i’m sure we’ll have a lot of fun along the way.

Mr Natural One

PS: As a BONUS, I’m going to throw this little contender down the bottom of every blog post to allude to the next upcoming post!

Check out my sweet ASCII styles!

Yeah I know, I promised no Ascii art, but it is kind of hard to ignore ( 😀 and so cool 😎 , how many games stemmed from simple good ol’ ascii – well before those damned Emoticons! 😡 )

If you didn’t guess from that, we might be looking at #2 Standards, Code conventions and Structure for Natural / JCL / Cobol … until next time, stay calm, stay safe, keep coding.