Audit-proofing IMAGE databases
OpenMPE opens up request to HP

Python snakes toward migration prep

Years ago, when HP did not yet offer an MPE/iX 6.5, 7.0 or 7.5, the company's engineers ported the open source tool Python to the platform. The fast, extensible, object-oriented scripting language is more self-describing than its better-known cousin Perl, with fewer add-in modules. Python also offers good support for XML, a technology that has been well-linked through the XML Thunder solution from CanAm Software.

The Python software never made it to "supported portion" status on MPE/iX, but Joseph Koshy's work has been pressed into service on some HP 3000s. Back in 2002, a 3000 NewsWire contributor offered a Python cookbook for the HP 3000 user.

More than five years later, some customers can benefit from a Python that could brought up to date. HP has said the user community needs to take charge of this kind of revival of open source elements. Robert Mills of Pinnacle Arvato tried to contact Koshy about getting Python ready to play on the HP supported versions of MPE/iX: 6.5 through 7.5. Alas, Koshy had moved away from the 3000 group in Bangalore.

Mills sees a use for Python in his company's steady and careful transition away from its HP 3000. PowerHouse portable subfiles at Mills' firm could make their way to CSV or tab-delimited format files — if only the Python interpreter was up to date on the HP 3000.

Mills seems ready to roll up his programming sleeves to help do the work. He's waiting on the white paper HP promised for 2007, a document that will assist in porting open source software onto the HP 3000, or forward an existing solution to a more modern version. Pinnacle Arvato plans to be off their 3000 before HP's support of the system is ended. Taking the PowerHouse subfiles into a more common format would cut down on migration development.

So here, in HP's forthcoming white paper, rests a resource that might make the DIY migration shop more efficient and cost-conscious about getting onto a new HP system. Mills reports that the need for a modern Python has immediate application at his site.

We create hundreds of extract files each week that are sent to customers/suppliers — and the list is growing all the time. Our main language here is PowerHouse ,so any utility that can take a subfile and convert it into CSV/Tab/Semi-Colon would reduce our development workload.

Mills took note of a forthcoming program in the PowerHouse community from Vaughn Steward, PSConvert. The utility in beta testing  converts PowerHouse Portable Subfiles to CSV and other formats. Steward plans to release PSConvert as open source to the PowerHouse community when it's passed testing. But there's a hurdle for PSConvert to overcome to be MPE/iX-ready.

The only problem with this utility is it requires the Python interpreter (unless you are on Windows or HP-UX; there are EXE builds for these OS's). Python on MPE/iX is version 1.5.1, and according to its page on Jazz only works on iX 5.5 and 6.0, which is not much help if you're on 6.5 or higher.

Python has many uses for an HP 3000 shop that is looking toward an open source future. Mills said, "As we will be moving off of the HP 3000 within the next two years, I’m trying to make any new applications we create as non-MPE/iX specific as I can — trying to reduce the headache caused by the move as much as possible."