This is the second of three articles on JavaScript tools and their value for mainframe integration.

In the series’ first article, we heard testimonials from web services developers and team leaders responsible for mainframe integration at large enterprises. They reported productivity gains ranging from 4 to 25 times when using a JavaScript tool compared to more common tools.

In this article, I’d like to explain how and why these kinds of improvement are possible. If you are resolved to do more with CICS and mainframe data, and spend less, here are 10 quick reasons – from familiarity and flexibility to unique mainframe integration capabilities – to look at JavaScript tools.

10. JavaScript is widely known. Look around your own integration team. I bet many of your services developers already know JavaScript. I’ll even double down – I bet more know JavaScript than any of the most common mainframe programming languages – COBOL, REXX, you name it. Choose JavaScript and a much broader set of developers – .NET, Java, web – are ready to help you reach your integration objectives.

9. JavaScript is easier. With its straightforward rules and procedures, JavaScript is easier to master and use than almost any other programming language, especially of the mainframe variety. JavaScript requires no extra development tools, and the latest versions, with built-in generators and iterators, make scripting easier than ever.

8. JavaScript costs less. In the exciting new math of this article, 10 + 9 = 8. Less programmer training plus faster development will save you money. Or from a business perspective, more programming resources plus quicker deployment might just make you money sooner. With JavaScript-based integration, you can do more, spend less, and accelerate your Return on Integration.

7. JavaScript is flexible. Because it’s a scripting language, JavaScript unlocks those old proprietary silos – instantly. It “speaks” all the industry-standard integration languages – HTTP, XML, web services – and it enables you to bring together existing and emerging technologies – from 3270, IMS, and COMMAREA to SOAP, REST, and Atom. You name it, JavaScript integrates it.

6. JavaScript is standardized. Netscape had the right idea when they submitted JavaScript to ECMA, the European Computer Manufacturer’s Association, for standardization years ago. The latest ECMA-262 specification – ECMAScript Edition 3/JavaScript 1.8 – ensures consistency and compatibility as the language grows and libraries evolve. Recently ECMA also defined the ECMA-357 standard for E4X, ECMAScript for XML, which extends standardization to the wide world of XML-based integration.

5. JavaScript is for servers. Many still think of JavaScript as a client-side technology. Au contraire. Powerful server-side engines/interpreters have proven their mettle, and new ones are introduced regularly. With these advances, JavaScript is fast becoming the programming language of choice for dynamic cross-system interaction and integration. On this point I recommend a recent article by Kris Kowal in the December 2009 Ars Technica entitled “CommonJS effort sets JavaScript on path for world domination.” Reasons No. 6 and 5 borrow from his article; I’ll provide a link below.

4. JavaScript’s integration power has been dramatically enhanced by HTTP request capabilities. Though the capability emerged more than five years ago, it is catching on with mainframe integration developers slowly. It’s an opportunity untapped. (I considered this for reason No. 1, but I haven’t gotten to the mainframe yet.) JavaScript-driven HTTP requests are the pivot of the pendulum that is swinging mainframe integration toward a brighter tomorrow. Simply put, JavaScript-driven HTTP requests make mainframe applications interactive and dynamic, and they enable the mainframe to integrate with anything – faster, easier, better, cheaper.

3. JavaScript’s object-oriented methodology is taking hold in the mainframe world. JavaScript is a good citizen of the mainframe world. Your programmers will find it easy to integrate mainframe functions using any service-oriented technology – SOAP and REST, integration objects, situational mashups, or full-blown SOAs. Using JavaScript in compiled form, developers can script interactions and save the reusable scripts on the mainframe to be invoked as services. And just a cursory glance at the latest System z product releases and development directions shows that IBM is fully in sync with the object-oriented paradigm.

2. JavaScript simplifies mainframe integration. Now that the vast majority of mainframe applications and distributed systems can call and respond to scripts, integration programming is infinitely easier (and “infinitely” is only a slight exaggeration). Ask developers or IT managers. It’s much easier and much, much safer to modify scripts than to rewrite mainframe code.

1. JavaScript is ideal for integrating CICS transaction micro flows. It’s a given that reusing CICS data and application logic brings tremendous benefit. But integrating terminal-oriented CICS applications, which happen to be the most common, has been a very tough challenge. Problem solved.

JavaScript is uniquely capable of orchestrating and executing the most complex terminal-oriented micro flows, involving dozens or even hundreds of screen transactions, as a single service. So interactions that used to require dozens or hundreds of HTTP requests/responses across the network can now be completed with one request/response when a JavaScript engine resides on the mainframe. For high-performance, high-fidelity integration of terminal-oriented applications, JavaScript tools are emerging as the No. 1 choice.

There you have the JavaScript Top 10. And to close, here’s the link to Kris Kowal’s article in the December 2009 Ars Technica:

Biography: Russ Teubner is the CEO HostBridge Technology