Information Engineering Facility

Information Engineering Facility

The IEF (Information Engineering Facility) was the first name of a full lifecycle computer-aided software engineering (CASE) tool, which has now gone through three different owners (Texas Instruments, Sterling Software and CA) and several different names (IEF, Composer by IEF, Composer, COOL:Gen, Advantage Gen, AllFusion Gen and, in 2007, CA Gen).


It was initially produced by Texas Instruments, with input from James Martin (author) and his consultancy firm James Martin Associates, and was based on the Information Engineering Methodology (IEM). The first version was launched in 1987.

IEF became popular among large government departments and public utilities. It initially supported a CICS/COBOL/DB2 target environment. However, it now supports a wider range of databases and operating systems. IEF was intended to shield the developer from the complexities of building complete multi-tier cross-platform applications.

In 1995, Texas Instruments decided to change their marketing focus for the product. Part of this change included a new name - "Composer".

By 1996 IEF had become a popular tool, however it was criticized by some IT professionals for being too restrictive, as well as for having a high per-workstation cost. But, it is claimed that IEF reduces development time and costs by removing complexity and allowing rapid development of large scale enterprise transaction processing systems.

In 1997 Composer had another change of branding, Texas Instruments sold the Texas Instruments Software division, including the Composer rights, to Sterling Software. Sterling software changed the well known name "Information Engineering Facility" to "COOL:Gen". COOL was an acronym for "Common Object Oriented Language" - despite the fact that there was little object orientation in the product.

In 2000, Sterling Software was acquired by Computer Associates (now CA). CA has rebranded the product three times to date and the product is still used widely today. Under CA, recent releases of the tool added support for the CA-Datacom DBMS, the Linux operating system, C# code generation and ASP.NET web clients. The current version is known as CA Gen - version 8 being released in May of 2010, with support for customised web services, and more of the toolset being based around the Eclipse framework.

There are a variety of "add-on" tools available for CA Gen, including Project Phoenix from Jumar - a collection of software tools and services focused on the modernisation and re-platforming of existing/legacy CA Gen applications to new environments Jumar, GuardIEn - a Configuration Management and Developer Productivity Suite by IET Ltd and QAT Wizard, an interview style wizard that takes advantage of the meta model in Gen.

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