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What is Legacy, and is it a bad thing?

The development of ClipX has its roots in an emerging and somewhat twisted notion in the IT world about something everyone calls "legacy".

The American Heritage Dictionary defines legacy as "something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor or from the past."

In the world of information technology, legacy is regarded as:

  • An application to which a company or organization has become committed due to considerable investment of time and money, or
  • A technically obsolescent component of the infrastructure of a content management environment.

Typically, legacy applications are database management systems (DBMS) running on mainframes or minicomputers, or on microcomputers in a 16-bit environment.

Legacy systems are those which have become (or are deemed) technologically obsolete, and

  • function as standalone system(s), or
  • pass usable data to enterprise processes, and finally
  • can no longer function as designed or written.

Is it a bad thing? Only if you believe the myth that a legacy leads to a dead end.

It does NOT, and we'll show you why.

Remember: "Legacy" is also defined as something of value handed down through time, and that can be a GOOD THING!

The Fear of Legacy ~ the MYTH

Who fears Legacy?

Programmers question their job security as they begin to realize the speed at which their knowledge is becoming less and less valuable in the ever-changing market that tends to leave them behind.

IT Professionals - the fear of becoming obsolete equates to an incessant need to "keep up" or continuously upgrade systems, which themselves will become obsolete in a matter of years.

Bean Counters don't merely fear Legacy, they HATE it. They're convinced that legacy is a lose-lose proposition where either maintenance costs or conversion costs will ultimately devour the company.

The Power of Legacy ~ the FACT

The fact is that the current factors defining a system as "legacy" include fully functional systems that have not become obsolete. In fact, "legacy" systems such as Clipper®, Quicksilver®, and Foxpro® continue to maintain databases around the world. These languages only lack the resources to access the Web.

In the current eConomy, business to business relations have not tapped into their full potential due to an inability to communicate between databases. The world is a database. The supposed and mythical - inability of businesses to use their existing legacy systems in conjunction with leading edge technology has been driving them needlessly into costly software development cycles, which perpetuates the endless succession of unnecessarily upgraded systems.

At intraSys, We're Setting the Record Straight

What is xBase, and is it Legacy?

Contrary to conventional wisdom, xBase is NOT a legacy application in the accepted and erroneous - sense.

But as something of value handed down through time, xBase most certainly IS legacy, and justifiably so. The fact is, xBase is simply a file storage format, and a great one at that, having no dependency on outdated operating systems.

The myth is that the xBase file storage format is obsolete because of its association with legacy operating systems and languages. As a result, xBase itself is considered outdated because of an assumed interdependence with outdated systems. Two misconceptions have perpetuated this association:

Myth #1:

A 16 bit program will not function in a 32 bit operating system.

Myth #2:

An xBase application cannot function as a CGI (Common Gateway Interface) program.


Oh, yes it will, and yes it does!

A Valuable Legacy

Since 1979, when Ashton-Tate released the dBase® RDBMS, companies around the world have stored their data in the xBase format. The next evolution began when Clipper, Quicksilver, and FoxPro arrived as more robust, full featured compiled languages. This forever changed the database landscape, and for good reason. The benefits of this storage format include:

  • Easy infrastructure maintenance
  • Large storage capability holding 1 billion records per database
  • Programmer resource availability
  • Speed - seeks one record in 1 billion in 1/70th of a second
  • Powerful programming tools - Hundreds of third party libraries are developed for lanuages using this format
  • Interoperability - Storage is independent of operating systems
  • Cost effective storage and access solutions
  • Compatibility and operability with in-place databases still in use all over the world

The fact is, xBase is a living legacy, with the ability to bring a new data explosion to the Internet!

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ClipX Review by Niel Freeman

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