Shawn M. Gordon
MIS Manager at Talin Tire Inc.
It seems my purpose in life lately is to review products as they come out. Hopefully this is an advantage to everyone since the vendor get’s exposure and you, the reader, get to find out more about them. So in keeping with this current tradition I decided to review DB/Advisor from LeeTech software.
Let me give you a little background about LeeTech to start out. The president of the company, Lee Tsai, has been on the HP doing programming and consulting for quite some time. A few years back one of his major clients had started using Allbase quite a bit and they were finding it tedious to deal with ISQL (this is the Allbase equivalent to Query for TurboImage). This inspired him to write DBA Query, this gave you an almost perfect Query like interface for Allbase, and for those of you who have had to try to find out entries vs. capacity in Allbase you can realize what a boon this would be. The other product was DBA Plus, this was an Allbase structural manipulation tool, this is the program that get’s called when you use DB/Advisors Allbase functions.
Ok, to start out with let’s explain some basics so we are all starting from the same point. DB/Advisor is a Client/Server application that runs under MS Windows on an IBM Compatible PC. This is then connected to, in this case, your HP 3000, through a data link. This can be a serial, LAN or network connection. The PC is then the Client and the HP is the Server. The only real network available on the HP is NS/3000, under MPE/iX 4.5 Berkley Sockets are supposed to be introduced as part of the whole Posix thing, and on iX 5.0 they should be part of the FOS. LeeTech has already coded to take advantage of these when they are available. They have even go so far as to support OLTP DCE multithreading when it becomes available. This should really give incredible performance.
They are using the ODBC API from Microsoft to provide the common interface layer. As more and more companies start to support this standard it will become easier for LeeTech. I understand the standard is still pretty new.
The advantage to all this up front work and support of open standards is that it should be very easy for LeeTech to support all sorts of data base types on a myriad of platforms. I understand that IBM is very hot to have them work on their RS/6000 RISC machine.
A connection to the 3000 is always established through the Server, so the first thing to do when you run the software is to connect to the Server. Once this is done it is time to decide what you want to do. Before I get into that though let me explain some of the connections that the product currently supports.
You will always get a toolbox of general tools and interfaces to the HP data base utilities. These include DBUTIL and DBSCHEMA currently. The general tools let you do things like purge file sets, including privileged files, among other things. For the interface for Allbase you will always be using the LeeTech products DBA Plus and DBA Query. For TurboImage you must make a choice, currently you can choose Adager or HP’s DB Change+. Since each of these interfaces cost money, you should decide which one you are going to need.
Once you have established the TurboImage product you are set to go.
You can even have the software build a batch job for you if you don’t want to perform the functions online. The first way would be to let Adager build the job for you through DB/Advisor, if it was an Adager task. The second way is to let DB/Advisor build the job for you. This can be built either on the HP or the PC. This will let you make a batch job of ANY of the DB/Advisor capabilities that operate on the HP. Pretty neat stuff.
One of the problems with the current interface to Adager is that when you are doing structural changes you can only do one thing at a time. In other words, say you want to add a new item to your data base and then assign it to a data set. With the current version you would have to add the item, apply the changes and then add the item to the data set and apply the changes again. This will go away in version 2 when Adager supplies their API to LeeTech. I am told this should happen before you read this review.
Usability (also installation)
The software is very simple to set up and use. It use’s the MS Windows standard of having a SETUP.EXE file that needs to be executed from Windows. This will walk you through creating the directory structure, copying the files, and creating a program group. After that it’s just a matter of clicking on the icon.
The main screen’s selections of icons is pretty intuitive, making it easy to step through the various functions that are supplied. Help is available at every step and follows the MS Windows standard for help. This includes having an Index and key words available.
The software accurately sent and received information with the applications on the 3000 that it was designed to. I was never able to make it ‘break’ in that respect. You could potentially have a problem if they are talking with a program like DBUTIL and HP changed the way DBUTIL was prompting and you found out before LeeTech did. This is why LeeTech is trying to get API’s into as many things as they can. Fortunately the API to Adager should be available by the time you read this. Since that and HP DB Change Plus are really the two nastiest things they are interfacing with, it will make it much more dependable as well as adding functionality.
They get some pretty respectable speed out of their Client/Server layer. Instead of uploading, downloading and parsing the requests and response’s from the 3000 they have a Server Message window. This is the window that shows the information that is going through the communication interface. Since they wrote their own bare bones terminal emulator they aren’t dependent on someone else’s connection to the host. This is what seems to make the software run so fast. The only real limitation in speed that I noticed, is how fast the application on the host will load up and spit out information.
Supportability (including Doc)
They have some really sharp people working for them, and a really solid product. Since I was working with a very early version the documentation was pretty much non-existent. However I didn’t find that there was anything I needed to know that wasn’t either intuitively obvious or easily found in the Help facility.
Since this is a really technically oriented company I don’t know how their tech support is going to end up being organized, but some of the guys have very heavy accents and it is hard to understand what they are saying sometimes. I imagine that this won’t be the case when they get going full swing.
I think that this is a very exciting product with some amazing potential. I think this concept can go way beyond just data base handling and manipulation. I wanted to have it just because it was fun to use. Everyone could make use of this product, but it may not make sense for everyone to spend the money on it.
The two major situations that I see this product being applicable is number one, the shop that is using both TurboImage and Allbase and want a consistent method of interacting with both for maintenance. The second, is where you don’t want to worry about having to train people in how to manipulate and interpret information from your data base’s. This is no small issue either, it isn’t easy to learn all the little nuances of TurboImage and what you should do for maintenance.
The ability to theoretically (since I couldn’t test it) control and manipulate all your data base’s across a world wide network from one easy location within one easy interface should be appealing to some people. It was to me.
So should you get DB/Advisor? I think you should definitely take a look at it.
DB/Advisor version 1.0
LeeTech Software Inc.
20410 Town Center Ln #220
Cupertino CA 95014
Call, write or FAX for more information or a demo
Great Client/Server driver
Consistent interface to Allbase and TurboImage maintenance
Easy to use
I would like to see a function that makes recommendations on their information
API to Adager wasn’t done yet