As a consultant to BASIS, Jim brings more than 15 years of experience developing and supporting Business Basic solutions.
BBx®, the language behind the PRO/5® and Visual PRO/5® products, belongs to a family of similar languages known generically as Business Basic. These languages, which date back to the early 1970s, all share a common core syntax. They've diverged in the past several years, especially in how they address the requirements of GUI environments like Microsoft Windows. But legacy applications, which are typically character oriented, can be moved to BBx with a minimum of difficulty.
If your application is working well enough as is, why would you want to put in the time, effort and expense to move it to BBx? One of the most pressing reasons, especially now that we're into 1999, is the Year 2000 issue. Some older Business Basic dialects do not correctly handle dates past 1999. For example, Thoroughbred Basic versions 8.2.0 through 8.3.0 will refuse to load after December 31, 1999 (see www.tbred.com/year2000.html).
Editor's note: You can find the BASIS Year 2000 compliance statement and other Year 2000 information on the BASIS Web site at www.basis.com/year2000.
In some cases, Year 2000 will be the main reason for converting your legacy Business Basic systems to BBx (PRO/5 or Visual PRO/5), but it's by no means the only reason. In most cases, you'll experience increased reliability and improved performance when you move your business systems from an old - possibly obsolete or unsupported - platform to a modern UNIX, Linux or Windows machine.
Another good reason to move to BBx is to take advantage of features that aren't available on the legacy system. Maybe you need the ability to work with large files (up to 4GB). Or you might want to interface with the Internet in general.
Or maybe you want to be able to integrate your legacy application with Windows or UNIX-based programs. There are many good reasons to move your applications to BBx.
The Conversion Process
Once you've decided to move your legacy
Business Basic application to BBx, how do you get started? The key is
the BASIS conversion utilities, which are included free with both
PRO/5 and Visual PRO/5 and which are available from the BASIS Web site
at www.basis.com/products/utilities.html. A detailed
description of the conversion process is available in the file
Once you have
But storing the programs and data files is only the first part of the conversion process. This is where the real conversion work starts. We'll talk about programs and data files separately.
The various Business Basic dialects are similar, but they're not
After you've transferred your program files, you should scan them
for syntax errors. Some verbs and functions can't be automatically
converted to BBx and will remain in the program as syntax errors. The
PRO/5 and Visual PRO/5 standard utility program
Most versions of Business Basic come with utility programs that perform system-level tasks. For both technical and legal reasons, these programs can't be moved to BBx. If the application uses any vendor-supplied utility programs, you'll need to review the code and find, or create, equivalent programs. Also, if a program file is protected (saved in a format that disables access to the source code), it can't be transferred to a new system.
Converting Data Files
Most data files convert without any special effort. (MAI OpenBASIC
MULTI files are a special case; see the
This new package of conversion utilities is included with PRO/5 and
Visual PRO/5. You can also visit the Conversions page on the BASIS web
site at www.basis.com/conversions.
Copyright 1999, BASIS International Ltd. All rights reserved.