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IBM Journal of Research and Development  
Volume 36, Number 4, Page 564 (1997)
IBM Centre for Advanced Studies
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The software bookshelf

by P. J. Finnigan, R. C. Holt, I. Kalas, S. Kerr, K. Kontogiannis, H. A. Müller, J. Mylopoulos, S. G. Perelgut, M. Stanley, K. Wong
Legacy software systems are typically complex, geriatric, and difficult to change, having evolved over decades and having passed through many developers. Nevertheless, these systems are mature, heavily used, and constitute massive corporate assets. Migrating such systems to modern platforms is a significant challenge due to the loss of information over time. As a result, we embarked on a research project to design and implement an environment to support software migration. In particular, we focused on migrating legacy PL/I source code to C++, with an initial phase of looking at redocumentation strategies. Recent technologies such as reverse engineering tools and World Wide Web standards now make it possible to build tools that greatly simplify the process of redocumenting a legacy software system. In this paper we introduce the concept of a software bookshelf as a means to capture, organize, and manage information about a legacy software system. We distinguish three roles directly involved in the construction, population, and use of such a bookshelf: the builder, the librarian, and the patron. From these perspectives, we describe requirements for the bookshelf, as well as a generic architecture and a prototype implementation. We also discuss various parsing and analysis tools that were developed and integrated to assist in the recovery of useful information about a legacy system. In addition, we illustrate how a software bookshelf is populated with the information of a given software project and how the bookshelf can be used in a program-understanding scenario. Reported results are based on a pilot project that developed a prototype bookshelf for a software system consisting of approximately 300K lines of code written in a PL/I dialect.
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