Sustaining Members’ News
HMW Systems Ltd.
It’s a while since anybody from HMW got around to writing something for the Sustaining Members News. It’s not because we have nothing to say, just that we have been busy.
Partially, the cause of our state of rushing about (wearing our “Blue-Arsed Fly suits” as Marc Griffiths used to say) is mildly embarrassing – we have actually be working on and installing new users for our DOS based system. Yes folks, I did say DOS. A client (who shall remain discretely nameless) has spent 3 years attempting to replace an extremely old APL*PLUS DOS system running on 486 PCs with a state of the art C++, running under Unix on Sun Sparc machines with an Ingress Database. The week before going live they finally let the users test it – who simply pointed out one or two shortcomings (it may have been more), including the fact that the APL system managed to run about 50 times faster (and that bit is not a joke). Combined with the need to replace a couple of other systems due to Y2K problems, this lead to not only the continuation of our DOS system, but an expansion of our user base.
We have not entirely neglected the 21st century. Our other products have been developed in slightly more modern versions of APL (not that I an criticising DOS based APLs – anything that earns that much money for our company is all right by me). We have had our first sales of Inca (Software Change Management for APL systems) and Maya (a development and coding environment for APL) in the last year. Completing our South / Meso-American theme we are finalising Aztec, an APL task environment capable of running real-time jobs, scheduling batch tasks, automatic restart and recovery, etc., all those things normally associated with the less exciting, but still vital end of software development – namely making it run smoothly in a live situation. I'm sure that when we started naming this range of products we had grand visions of the significance of the names. Think of all that cyclopean Inca masonry fitted so neatly together – what an image for software management, piecing together all those little changes, or an Aztec pyramid lifting its temple out of the jungle, just like a task scheduler would raise our (small but elegant) application from the liana shrouded hinterlands of the operating system. However I’m equally sure that a certain peculiar sense of humour is resident at “HMW Towers” (as one client nicknamed our modest offices) – things like “May ’Ah show you something I’ve been working on” probably had as much to do with the names as a did a coherent marketing strategy.
As to the future: We hope to persuade our clients to move completely to an Aztec-run version of 4XTRA (how much longer can DOS go on?). We have become members of the Dynamic Systems Development Corporation, an organisation with many members much larger than us (IBM, ICL, BT to name but 3) dedicated to promoting a RAD methodology – we see a lot of synergy with both APL and our current work (but that could take quite a while to explain and could well be the topic of a talk to the APL group, if anyone is interested). We have a lot of ideas which are now coming to fruition under the Aztec environment – so you might not have to wait so long to here more news from us next time!