As organizations transform and grow, different methodologies and development tools can come together, creating an extra level of complexity for your mainframe application development teams. In a perfect world, developers would be able to focus on delivering solutions without worrying about all the infrastructure necessary to make that happen. Building a better developer experience, or DevX, can make that a reality.
DevX is about meeting developers where they are, at every stage of their career, delivering compatibility with and connectivity to the tools and devices that they want to use so they can focus on what they do best: Coding and releasing high-quality mainframe applications faster and more frequently and fostering better productivity and more innovation.
Automation is integral to removing friction for developers. A modern integrated development environment (IDE) with built-in automation allows developers to find and manage code more efficiently and with greater quality and move quickly and easily from coding to editing to debugging to testing.
Modern tooling can simplify and accelerate how developers work by giving them a visual representation of their code layout in a single-pane-of-glass view. They can move quickly in a natural, easy way with more information at their fingertips while built-in automation offers assistance at the right moment without getting in the way.
This can seem difficult when dealing with mainframe application development and longtime mainframe developers who are still working with tools from the 1980s haven’t directly benefitted from the intervening decades of improvements. What they might not realize is that the improvements made for other platforms are available to mainframe developers, too. By engaging them in your DevX modernization efforts, you can improve their experience—and that of their team members.
Elements of a Productive Mainframe Developer Experience
- A modern DevX adopts flexible agile processes that give developers predictable capabilities and enable smaller, iterative changes with faster feedback. It also syncs distributed and mainframe development teams to foster greater collaboration for additional process improvements.
- A better DevX is platform-agnostic, creating a development environment where developers can focus on the functionality of the applications they’re building instead of the deployment mechanism, leveling the playing field for every generation of developer.
- With an improved DevX, developers can achieve the full potential of DevOps. Implementing DevOps for source code management (SCM) functions allows developers to understand the scope of any changes needed before they start coding, which helps speed approvals through concurrent work streams.
- The single biggest boost to productivity—and an integral component of DevX—is shift left automated testing that enables developers at all skill levels to test new code immediately and find and fix bugs earlier in the development cycle when they’re easier to fix—and before they reach the end user. Continuous testing also automatically prepares test data within the DevOps toolchain.
- An improved DevX delivers operational insights, so developers aren’t just catching issues but also understanding and prioritizing them, working hand in hand with the operations team to make the overall system better. It also empowers newer developers to address and correct any issues that arise in legacy code without poring over hundreds of modules to find what they need to improve. DevX tools work together to give developers an opportunity to leverage operational data in a whole new way.
Once you have the tools, your mainframe developers need to be supported by a culture and education that teaches them how to use them and understand the benefits they offer. If you implement new tooling that nobody will use, the transformation is for naught. It’s important to start with the user experience and find the right tools to address it rather than starting with a tool and forcing its use just because it’s new. Continuous improvement is an important part of this; otherwise, you could bring the mainframe developer experience from the 1980s up to today’s standards only to have it freeze in place. This is why metrics and analytics are so important.
As you speed up delivery, you also want to make sure the quality improves. With an improved DevX, you’re consistently finding defects earlier in the life cycle, which results in safer, more efficient delivery of better-quality code. By tracking velocity with metrics such as user stories delivered in one sprint, you can gauge how those changes are making a difference. You can also demonstrate how automation helps eliminate human error, increases code drops, and improves business agility.
If you’re giving your mainframe developers everything they need to do their jobs easily and more efficiently, they’re exponentially more likely to adopt the tool and advocate for it—because a better DevX improves the day-to-day employee experience for longstanding and next-generation developers. By removing the drudgery of tasks that take developers away from writing code, you’re unleashing their creative and enabling them to achieve even greater levels of innovation—and you’re also improving your hiring and retention practices.
Improving the mainframe DevX pays dividends across your business, from your developers to your customers to your stakeholders, so you can bring more new features to market faster and enable a competitive response for revenue-generating solutions. The mainframe is here to stay. Make sure you’re building a modern development environment that empowers your developers to respond nimbly in the face of change and make change your advantage.