4Sight Application Analysis Tool Overview

4Sight is an application analysis and documentation tool that examines a set of programs, by breaking the code (including related workflow scripts and data definitions) into elements and establishes their inter-relationships and dependencies. It parses each source document into a compressed and indexed XML representation. The collection can then be explored using the 4Sight Workbench's query facility with output as relationship diagrams or comma-delimited text. Every element can be instantly cross-referenced and hypertext linked to a copy of the original source document.

Untold man-years of effort and many dollars are spent to create a software suite. But often one cannot respond positively to questions such as:

  • Do you know what constitutes a full set of components for each of your application suites?
  • Which parts are critical to your production?
  • Are you sure you have all the source code?
  • Which batch control scripts, programs, files and databases are obsolete?
  • Which are duplicated?

Other questions arise when you want to enhance an application suite or migrate it to a new platform:

  • Can you determine the impact of intended enhancements to business logic?
  • Which components will need conversion?

If you need to add a field to a file:

  • Which programs will be affected?
  • Are your business rules being consistently applied?

All of these questions and more could be answered if you had a detailed inventory, or ‘collection’, of all of your current “in production” software assets. Very few organizations attempt this because it is so hard to ensure its continued accuracy. Every time a program or job stream is modified the inventory may need to be updated. Unless every change is recorded, the inventory rapidly becomes outdated and therefore increasingly less useful. Many analysis products require the total code base to be re-parsed and reprocessed. 4Sight instead maintains collections of XML files extracted from each source document. When the timestamp changes on any document, only its file in the collection needs to be refreshed and this can be an automated process.

4Sight is a set of PC-based tools that programmers and managers can use on a daily basis to make existing systems and the impact of proposed changes clearly visible. Unlike hand maintained documentation, it always reflects reality because its information has been parsed directly from the production code sources.

The 4Sight parser applies a modifiable set of phrase patterns to the source document in order to recognize and tag key information in the document. Multiple parser patterns may be applied to a source document for different purposes. As each file is added to the collection, 4Sight dynamically updates a composite overview of the available information.

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