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As technology advances many organizations wish to modernize their applications which often cover a significant part of their business.

Modernizing ADABAS/Natural mainframe applications by rewriting them, or by replacement with OTS package, could be a very risky and very costly project.

On the other hand, using automated tools to refactor legacy applications can yield best results, the applications can be refactored to newer technology at the lowest risk and cost. Legacy applications contain unique business functionality which was developed over many years thus becoming a significant asset to the organization. The refactoring option keeps these business functions intact.     

Refactoring ADABAS / Natural


MOST Technologies have been developing innovative solutions for customers seeking to modernize their legacy applications for more than 20 years.  Our automated tools support the modernization solution of a variety of legacy applications including ADABAS/Natural.

MOST is well known for its in-depth knowledge and capabilities in ADABAS/Natural internals, as some of MOST’s employees have been working for Software AG and were involved in the development of certain SAG features before joining MOST.

Our low risk and short implementation solutions have been proven worldwide and they offer a cost-effective way to remove the dependencies on legacy technologies.

What we do

MOST offers multiple solutions to refactor ADABAS/Natural to modern technologies. In this section we will focus on our approach to refactor Natural to COBOL, Java or C#, and migrate ADABAS to any relational database management system. Please contact MOST to discuss our solutions in detail.    

3-tier architecture
When the code is refactored MOST restructures the application into a 3-tier architecture, i.e. presentation layer, business layer and data access layer (DAL). Creating the DAL provides the mechanism to address the differences between ADABAS and modern databases. Our tool automatically generates processors and adapters to access the new database while the business logic is not impacted.

ADABAS Natural 3-tier v1.jpg

With OnTarget, existing business logic and user interfaces are fully preserved by the end of the automated refactoring  process.

Automatic Natural Refactoring

Automatic Natural Refactoring handles many issues arising from the multitude of programming differences between Natural and other languages such as COBOL, C# and Java.  For example:

  • Preservation of Natural online transaction logic

  • Preservation of Natural 4GL functions, such as loop management, report (screen) titles generation, page control, on-condition statements, and more

  • Emulation of Natural system variables functions

  • Identification and simulation of Natural Write commands that write to screens

  • Identification and handling of Natural language naming conventions that may not supported in the new language, for example, variable names beginning with the symbols '#' and '+' not supported in COBOL.

  • Conversion of Natural / ADABAS data access commands

  • Conversion of processing rules written inside MAPs  

  • Preservation of Natural STACK functions

Automatic refactoring to COBOL

Natural is converted to COBOL using MOST's OnTarget engine as shown above.

Each Natural entity is mapped to the relevant COBOL entity:

Automatic refactoring to C# or Java 

When migrating Natural systems to open system customers often prefer to refactor the Natural code to either C# or Java. 

The source code of the Natural entities is being parsed into OnTarget and then the new code is generated. The refactoring process is a 1:1 Natural to C# / Java statement.  

The following are some examples: 

Natural 2 C#example.jpg

Additionally, the original Natural code and program comments can be imbedded as comments within the relevant C# / JAVA programs.  

Database Migration


Automated Database Design - OnTarget automatically designs a normalized relational database model based on the ADABAS file’s structures. OnTarget considers special characteristics of ADABAS such as: Multiple fields (MU), Periodic Groups (PE) and ISN – Internal Sequence Number.

The data model of the newly designed RDBMS is reviewed by the customer and can be  fine tuned. 

Following the completion of the RDBMS design, during the application refactoring, OnTarget automatically generates the modules of the data access layer which take into consideration the new relational structure and transform it into the previous record structure expected by the application business modules.  

Automated Data Migration - OnTarget automatically produces basic DDLs for the creation of the new tables and generates the programs that migrate the ADABAS data to the target RDBMS tables, based on the target tables design. The Data Migration process can include customer-defined integrity checks, fine-tuning for data validation (e.g., numeric checks, date, and time format, etc.), that ensure a totally accurate migration of data.

The migration modules together with the complete migration process including ADABAS extraction tools are delivered to the customer to execute the migration process.

The complete database design and data migration solution is illustrated in the diagram below.

Migration Diagram.jpg
Natural to COBOL.png
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