The Information Engineering Facility (IEF)
The Information Engineering Facility, or IEF as it was better known, was a product produced by Texas Instruments in the late 1980s. Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN), better known in the electronics industry as TI, is a company based in Dallas, Texas, renowned for developing and commercializing semiconductor and computer technology. ...
Based on the Information Engineering Methodology (IEM), the product was a full lifecycle Computer Aided Software Engineering (CASE) tool.
IEF rose rapidly in popularity, particularly among large government departments and public utilities.
The product initially targeted the CICS COBOL DB2 market. However throughout its evolution, it went on to support a variety of databases and operating systems. At the height of its popularity, IEF was capable of generating complete multi-tier cross-platform applications shielding the developer from the traditional complexities of such designs.
In 1995, Texas Instruments decided to change their marketing focus for the product. Part of this change included a new name - "Composer". Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN), better known in the electronics industry as TI, is a company based in Dallas, Texas, renowned for developing and commercializing semiconductor and computer technology. ...
By late 1996, Composer had built a reputation as a strong and reliable tool for development of large corporate transaction processing systems. However it never exactly "took the market by storm". It was frowned upon by IT theorists as being too restrictive and limited. Similarly, many potential clients lacked enthusiasm for the product due to its high per-workstation pricing policy.
However experienced Composer developers on successful projects were able to see the product in the correct light. Its limitations were in fact its true strengths. Of course IT development teams waste far too much time and money dealing with over-complex technologies. Composer on the other hand did exactly what businesses required - and not a great deal more. Ie. it allowed the very rapid development of stable and reliable transaction processing systems.
Nevertheless, in 1997 Composer began along a downhill march. In yet another change of focus, Texas Instruments sold the Composer rights to Mr Sterling L. Williams of Sterling Software. This came as a great shock to Composer clients around the world - perhaps more shocking was the subsequent name change by Sterling Software. The once proud "Information Engineering Facility" was to be known as "COOL:Gen". Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN), better known in the electronics industry as TI, is a company based in Dallas, Texas, renowned for developing and commercializing semiconductor and computer technology. ...
COOL was an acronym for "Common Object Oriented Language" - although there was still very little Object Orientation in the product.
Nevertheless, the product continued to survive - though not quite thrive. A number of upgrade releases were produced, including several significant improvements which allowed the generation of web pages and proxies.
Still, Sterling Software had other ideas for the product. In 1999 the company sold all rights to Computer Associates (CA). Computer Associates International, Inc (NYSE: CA) is a computer software company, founded in New York by Charles B. Wang in 1976. ...
With the change of ownership came yet another new name. Of course the new name had to be better than "COOL:Gen" - but not much better. After playing with the name "Jasmine" for a short while, CA came up with "Advantage:Gen". It could have been worse perhaps, but after several years named "COOL:Gen" it hardly seemed to matter.
Advantage:Gen is still used widely today, although more Advantage:Gen systems are now in maintenance than in development. Those which remain in development tend to focus on the tool's powerful back-end capabilities, leaving user-interface design for more modern tools.
Nevertheless, IEF/Composer/COOL:Gen/Advantage:Gen has left a mark on most who've used it. Many devotees think about the product with affection and most recognise it for what it was - truly ahead of its time.