BACKGROUND: For the past 11 years, NexGen Technologies has been developing software predominantly used to add computer-aided dispatching functionality, records management, and imaging and mapping capabilities for the law enforcement and public safety communities.

PLATFORMS: Data Junction's products run on Windows 95/98/NT and UNIX.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Our client, a global provider of integrated outsourcing services for information management, contracted us to transition their legacy law enforcement system over to NexGen's, which is compatible with the National Incident Based Reporting System, the standard for all reports generated and submitted by law enforcement agencies. It was our task to integrate, transform and load their existing files into SQL tables that would then be compliant with the NexGen System. Armed with NexGen's added functionality, our client could then do analysis of their data to spot trends and geographically visualize crime activity such as break-ins, car thefts, etc., for future sales efforts.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The client had 150 million records of data in COBOL and Btrieve files compiled over 15 years from 200 disparate departments, each with its own set of data transformation issues. We have found that Data Junction was essential to the success of our project and employed it to clean, integrate, transform and load the COBOL and Btrieve data into Microsoft SQL 7 and Sybase SQL Anywhere databases. Utilizing Data Junction's graphical user interface and SQL Passthru capabilities, more than 175 conversions were written which covered the gamut of transforming the old data formats to the NexGen System operating on Microsoft SQL 7. In many instances, the built-in functions found in Data Junction made complex tasks simple and limited the time it would have taken to write custom expressions.

STRENGTHS: We are continually thrilled with the functionality that Data Junction offers. In particular, since we were connecting to an SQL source, Data Junction has a function called SQL Passthru. This feature allows the user to leverage all the SQL capabilities in the native SQL environment, such as lookups, filters and joins, before they are read by Data Junction. Due to this capability, Data Junction enabled us to shorten our development cycle by 60 percent by joining tables that were a direct mirror of the COBOL files we needed converted. Another feature in this version of Data Junction that had us jumping with excitement was the ability to define multiple record types for single files and define many-to-one file relationships. This one feature alone is worth the price.

WEAKNESSES: Although we found Data Junction's documentation complete and effective overall, we like the portability of written documentation and found that Data Junction's documentation is primarily online.

SELECTION CRITERIA: At the beginning of this project, we considered the alternative of purchasing a transformation tool rather than writing our own custom code. We evaluated other products but found that they didn't offer the functionality and flexibility we required. We decided to choose Data Junction on a recommendation. We were so pleased with Data Junction's flexibility and ease of use and so happy with the developer who recommended it that we tried to hire him.

DELIVERABLES: Data Junction was able to save us innumerable programming hours and brought our whole project in under budget. The best choice for our company, Data Junction was the only product that we tried that has the functionality, ease of use and price point that fit our needs.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We have utilized Data Junction's support staff very heavily and found them to be very responsive in handling our questions or issues. We really got the impression that they were willing collaborators ­ doing everything they could to make sure that we were a success.

DOCUMENTATION: We have found that the documentation is complete and very helpful, and the Data Junction support staff was always able to provide further details if necessary.

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