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SPF/PC Letter Sent to CTC

Letter to CTC Sales in response to new SPF/SE version

Hello   SPF Sales Team,               May 21, 2000
In reply to your most recent announcement:

I think you are completely out of touch with who your customers 
were.  Mainframe system programmers and applications
developers need REXX for macros for compatibility 
with what they had.  Macros written in C   just do not work for us.
You lost the big sales opportunity during Y2K conversions in the past
4 years  because SPF/PC and SPF/Pro were  not sufficiently 
compatible with TSO.   Concerning the newer  SPF/Pro I've 
heard mixed reports on whether it was better or worse
than SPF/PC.   In any case the consultants would have been
your market as they could have worked at home on their own
PC's without being connected to mainframes.   The others,
those still employed, simply continued to work on TSO at work
or with a connection from home.   Working with a PC version
from home would have been a lot faster for development.  

Now your best hope for customers is the old programmers 
retiring that need compatibility and the ability to use their 
REXX backgrounds, and program utilities that they already
have.    *BUT*  it must work the same,  you should resurrect
your SPF/PC and fix the bugs, and make it compatible with
long dataset names and larger window sizes.

SPF/PC,  I believe, handled larger record sizes 32,000 which
in a PC world is too small as there is not limit.   My impression
is that SPF/SE will not handle 32,000 byte records 
which if true simply makes SPF/SE even less useful.

On TSO there were those who wrote macros, and most of the
others weren't even aware that a lot of what they relied on were
macros.   For those that know what they are doing macros get
changed to add more function and new macros get written,
they are the building blocks and they are macros because
they are something that are constantly created, changed and
rewritten for applications.  That's what macros are, for the most
part they are not full fledged programs but pieces that fit together
and work interactively -- building blocks, that is
why they are macros.  SPF/PC proved that you could simulate
ISPF on a PC but it also showed that PC programmers
did not bother to follow printed specifications.  Any deviation
from specs was intolerable to were working of Y2K.

It would be far easier to write a valid SPF/xx package even from
scratch than to rewrite real applications from TSO.   In any case
you should tie into REXX from other sources.  Regina REXX is
free for instance, SPF/PC had it's own REXX which was decent
but it is rather outdated.    

Things you did right that were not provided on mainframes: 
1) The manuals are terrific, too bad the program didn't follow spec.
     Wish I had manuals like that 10-15 years ago or whenever it was that
     we started using REXX macros and ISPF dialogs.   The equivalent
     manuals on TSO filled up a shelf -- they may have had more 
     information but it was a lot harder to find in the IBM manuals, 
     even with BookMaster files.  Online manuals are nice but you
     need the paper ones for real work.
2) The HELP files as flat ASCII files are terrific for searching and
     and reading, a searchable version of the paper manuals without
     the GUI stuff.  Can exclude all lines and find all relevant lines
     and surrounding text -- impossible with modern HELP files. 
3) Block selects of members was a nice feature not available on 
     TSO and since it is for manual use only it is not an incompatibility
4) Not restricted to 255 characters as TSO was so could edit some
     files from TSO that could not be worked on in TSO.
5) Ability to work in ASCII or EBCDIC characters.

Things you did wrong:
1) Not having a web presence 5 years ago.
2) Not having Email 7 years ago.
3) Not testing for compatibilty with TSO which is what most people
     used,  not   VM and VSE which you used to see if things were
4) Not contacting customers when SPF/PC came first came out.
    Had I known, you probably could have fixed the bugs.    You
    have contact now 
     but too late.   Not mailing fix disks unless asked for. (That
     is a thing of the past now since everyone can use FTP online).
     CTC site and contacts:  http://www.commandtechnology.com
5) Not eliminating the bugs.   Not matching  specs on return codes, 
     not matching cursor positions with that of TSO.
6) Thinking that GUI interfaces are better than 3270 style, people
     were working on code not interactive word processing documents.
7) Not supporting REXX in SPF/SE versions. 
8) Dropping sales and support of SPF/PC and SPF/Pro that have  REXX 

David McRitchie,      

The REXX Macros Toolbox   (site changed 2000-04-15)
My Excel Macros:                    (site changed 2000-04-15)


SPF/PC® and SPF/SE® are registered trademarks of Command Technology Corporation.

and this stuff and a heck of a lot more is all IBM's

OS/390, SPF, ISPF, Dialog Manager (DM), Program Development Manager (DM).

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Copyright (c) 1997, 2000 F. David McRitchie
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