October 17, 2014 by Jason Thomas
Development of ITAS for Windows (aka ITAS for NT, ITAS 1.0) started back in 1997 and was the eventual replacement for ITAS VMS. The migration of the technology took less than 18 months but clients continued using ITAS VMS for a number of years. In fact our support VAX wasn’t switched off until well into the next century.
The reason for this was a mixture of the fear of the unknown and the old adage, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. However history proves that standing still will eventually catch up with you by which point it will invariably be too late. The VAX went the way of the dodo and Windows – and pc/server environments – grew and became the benchmark for every serious business user.
There were obvious driving forces behind this migration; colour, icons, graphics but in terms of ITAS technology the biggest leap was the introduction of the ability to go anywhere on the screen via the mouse. No longer were users forced to enter information top-down. No longer were users restricted to single, modal application processes and this opened up a whole new way of working.
For us as developers, this opened up a whole world of pain! The advent of ‘event-driven’ programming introduced a new dimension never contemplated before… predicting user activity.
Traditional applications were developed around screens of tab-able data entry points. Enter one and you were moved to the next – equivalent to a modern-day wizard if you like. This made data entry predictable and process education simple. From a management point of view this was desirable as standards could be maintained, data security and integrity established through the application which could not be violated by any user.
Windows threw all of this out of the errr… window. Developing applications now meant we needed to respond to random events and user actions. Of course there were many positives and this is the point I am (laboriously) driving towards. Technology opened up the possibility of innovation and collaboration. Developer tools were added by other developers. Communities sprung up where like-minded individuals could share ideas, posting code and solutions for all to use. From this, new industries emerged and this led to new technologies. The web was the catalyst and as we are seeing now, this is now the norm. Evolution at its best.
So where does ITAS now sit in the grand scheme of things? If ITAS VMS was version 1 and ITAS Windows version 2, then ITAS NG – project name for this phase – is clearly the next major leap in its own evolution. Again we find ourselves in a migration phase, albeit on the same (Windows) platform, but now we have the opportunity to take advantage of today’s technology and can again start innovating. ITAS 8.0 is just the first step.