Migration Tool Automates .NET Shift To Cloud

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Mobilize.Net’s WebMAP2 migration tool is designed to automatically migrate outdated .NET applications for mobile and cloud environments

Playing on the Microsoft strategy of delivering a mobile-first, cloud-first environment for its customers, Mobilize.Net announced its new WebMAP2 migration tool, which brings cloud and mobile to millions of legacy enterprise applications.

Mobilize.Net said with its solution, businesses with legacy applications trapped on outdated platforms now have an efficient way to move their apps to popular mobile devices connected to the cloud.

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Automatic update

Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Developer and Platform Evangelism division, and John Shewchuk, a Microsoft Technical Fellow and the CTO for the Microsoft Developer Platform, demonstrated WebMAP2 for the first time in public during their portion of the 3 April keynote address at Microsoft’s Build 2014 developer conference in San Francisco, in front of thousands of software developers.

During the keynote, Guggenheimer said Mobilize.Net has “been working on the ability to update apps for a long time” and had launched WebMAP2 to help in that regard. “This isn’t about sort of just connecting Office 365; this is taking really old .NET applications and moving them forward,” he noted.

“Our goal with WebMAP2 is to help enterprises preserve and extend the value of their Windows line of business application assets,” said Tom Button, president and chief executive of Mobilize.Net, in a statement. “IT wants to move apps to the cloud and users want these apps accessible from their mobile devices. WebMAP2 delivers both – by efficiently re-architecting these enterprise applications for the cloud-powered, mobile world of the future.”

Since Windows XP will no longer be supported after 8 April, enterprise developers are racing to move applications built for XP to supported platforms. Mobilize.Net offers tools for a “double jump”. The first jump is from Windows XP-based Visual Basic 6 to .NET. WebMAP2 automates the second leap, from .NET application to modern web application. Using patent-pending algorithms to separate business logic from user interface code, WebMAP2 converts business logic to native C# on ASP.NET, while user interface code is migrated to HTML5 with JavaScript. The UI and business logic are kept in sync using Microsoft’s web app architectural pattern, Model-View-View-Model (MVVM).

Modernisation

During a demo, Shewchuk showed a transformed VB6 C# project where the Mobilize.Net tool helped modernise the app. “It’s actually analysed the code, it’s identified the business logic, what’s happening on the UX, and it’s pulled those apart into an MVVM controller,” he said. Moreover, it “moved it so that the C# code can run on the server and we can actually project that UI now out as HTML5. And that’s a pretty unbelievable transformation.” He then showed the app running on Microsoft’s Azure platform.

Reiterating the process, Shewchuk said, “We’ve now taken an app from VB6 through WinForms, now we’re projecting it out into the cloud, running logic up on the server, and then projecting it out on the client. And there’s some really cool things you get to do once you can project this thing out as HTML5.”

Taking it from there, Guggenheimer showed how that same app could be easily moved to the phone. “So now we’re taking that old VB6 app and taking advantage of the CSS work and the rest of what’s been done,” he said. “We can now run this not beautifully but well on this phone. So we’ve gone a long, long way from that application to this phone in basically a short amount of time, didn’t take much at all to do this.”

Since WebMAP2 generates code that is fully native to the target platform, customers have no dependency on third-party runtime libraries, reducing long-term cost and risk, and further “future proofing” the application. In this release, WebMAP2 includes mappings to convert Visual Basic 6.0 and C# .NET WinForms code to HTML5 and JavaScript. WebMAP2 also provides an easy-to-use GUI that allows direct side-by-side comparison of code before and after the transformation, a common developer request.

Flexibility

“It’s pretty incredible to be able to use CSS and these transformations to create a touch-friendly version of that app with very, very little touch on the part of the developer,” Shewchuk said of the demo.

Shewchuk added in a statement: “Today we are not only showing the future, but by working with Mobilize.Net we’re also helping you get there. The MVVM architecture generated by WebMAP2 is flexible, scalable and ready for cloud and mobile. WebMAP2 is one of the best ways we know of to move VB6 and .NET apps to mobile and cloud.”

Mobilize.Net officials said building a robust, high-performing, modern web application from traditional client-server code is complex and many developers assume they have to start from scratch. However, since the only definition of many business processes is application source code itself, starting from scratch comes at a steep price.

“WebMAP2 helps you avoid devastating disruptions to business by automatically preserving good, debugged, business logic,” Mobilize.Net’s Button said. “WebMAP2 gives developers a huge jumpstart on that re-architecture with enormous savings in time, cost, and risk, compared to a full rewrite. This means developers can spend their time creating new features and functionality for the business rather than re-inventing the wheel on a new platform.”

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Originally published on eWeek.

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