Austrosoft S.A.

 

The origins of Austrosoft date back to the early Eighties, when a group of software engineers, after working jointly on a major software project, decided to pool their resources and collaborate as partners, initially on an informal basis.
 
Given the considerable expertise in low-level systems programming, IBM/Siemens Assembler and Macro-Assembler remained for several years the software development tools of choice. Later on, higher level languages came to be used as tools for systems and applications programming. Today, assembler (e.g. ARM embedded) and object-oriented programming languages and techniques are utilized. Eventually formalized as Austrosoft SA, partners have over the years been involved in numerous projects, both locally and abroad. A few examples, chosen for variety, show the scope of the tasks performed.



 


A U S T R O S O F T   I N F O R M A T I O N   T E C H N O L O G Y

 
The early years: a few examples of projects completed
on behalf of Siemens AG Munich and Siemens Ltd. Johannesburg

Upon release of the Siemens 404/3 minicomputer in the mid-70's, Austrosoft founder member H. Syrowatka is put in charge of OS support and maintenance. He authors the OS/Assembler manual and produces various system utilities over the following two-year period
 
Conversion of a FORTRAN IV weather forecasting package for Deutsche Wetterwarte, Frankfurt (the German meteorological service)
 
Assembler development of an IBM-CICS emulation package in cooperation with Softlab AG, Munich. The software enables IBM CICS applications to run under control of the Siemens BS1000 transaction monitor ASMUS
 
Conversion of the AVBOB IBM S/38 site to a Siemens System 7.531 (RPG) for Siemens Ltd. S.A.
 
Conversion of programs in preparation of benchmark testing for Siemens S.A. in aid of  the bidding for various tenders

Siemens 404/3 manual
 
Siemens 404/3, Systems Manual and
Assembler Programmers Guide,
written and edited by H.F. Syrowatka

Conversion of a FORTRAN IV CAD package for South African steel producer ISCOR.

 
 
Iscor
 

The construction of a new Transnet railroad yard at Bapsfontein (Sentrarand), the largest facility of its kind in the southern hemisphere, necessitates the installation of a broad range of electrical and electromechanical gear, electronics, networking systems, computer hardware and software. 
Siemens AG (Munich) and Siemens Ltd. (Johannesburg) is awarded the contract under which duplicated, fail-safe computer systems capable of running yard operations 24x7 are to be developed. A "hot standby" system of six interlinked mainframe, front-end, and network computers is proposed and implemented. The software is to be jointly developed by two groups, located in Germany and South Africa; H. Syrowatka is appointed "Team leader for system software and OCS (Operations Control System) integration" of the South African group and performs this function through a 2˝-year period until successful project completion. The tasks involved require the development of low-level device driver and OS interface software in assembler language, in support of COBOL applications programming.

SA Railways

 
 

 

Contracted by Johannesburg merchant bank Mercabank Ltd. for an eight month period to run and upgrade the 'orphaned' computer installation until suitable new staff can be found and trained; the contract is later extended to incorporate the development of a 'general ledger' package to run on the Siemens 7.531 mainframe.

Mercabank

Contract work for Standard General Insurance (StanGen) results in the assembler modules SISAM and SISAMT, which stabilize the existing flat-file database system by adding efficient record locking and deadlock resolution features.

Standard-General

Chemical firm Bayer SA requires additional human resources to cope with a backlog of COBOL programming.

Bayer

Contracted on various occasions by Siemens Ltd. and Siemens-Nixdorf Ltd. for assembler-based developments.

Siemens-Nixdorf

Design and implementation of ConPLAN, a comprehensive compiler/emulator package for ICL 1900/2900 PLAN programs. 
ConPLAN emulates the ICL 1900/2900 instruction set, I/O system, and OS services. It enables ICL PLAN Assembler programs to execute on IBM / Siemens mainframes while at the same time supporting program maintenance by means of the built-in PLAN compiler functionality. 
The package is used for several years as "virtual machine" for ICL assembler programs that process and print the South African and Namibian telephone and fax directories (dubbed "white and yellow pages")
The Siemens-Nixdorf Unix-derivative Sinix is chosen to handle communications between the Siemens mainframe running ConPLAN and the print shop hardware, a Linotron photo setting machine (the connection module 'Linotran' implements a proprietary transmission protocol build on RS232C).

ICL

Contracted by Nasionale Pers/Perskor to produce a machine language run-time interface module that enables certain Unix COBOL programs to communicate with the Siemens BS2000 API's.

Nasionale Pers


After 1995, the focus shifts from mainframe to client/server and web server platforms. Programming and systems development concentrate on the Microsoft/Intel platform in combination with Borland software tools.

Borland

Various projects have since been completed, a few posted on the Internet. One experimental application enables UDP-based Internet communications between clients with dynamically allocated IP addresses without arbitrating server by exploiting the SMTP/POP3 protocols to achieve a sustained exchange of messages in near real-time (delay < 5 seconds).
A C++ demonstrator project results in a nautical navigation program, which allows the user to manage a mixed archive of paper and electronic charts. Plans are to integrate a public domain database of the "coastlines of the world" and combine the information with relief data to create a false-colour screen display, onto which a continuously updated GPS-derived position can be superimposed.

screenshot "Chartfinder"

In December 2005 the first beta-version of AS Club is released for download from the Austrosoft website. 
The application combines the functions of a newly developed accounting package, aimed at clubs and various other membership organizations, that adds Internet connectivity, thus not only enabling a club to communicate with its members via database-controlled email and SMS dispatches but also to run the club website in-house, turning its own computer into a web server. This functionality allows members to query their accounts online by directly accessing the club computer through the Internet and to sent instant messages back to the operator (e.g. the club secretary) which pop up on the AS Club window.   
Payments made into the club bank account can be imported from electronic bank statements in OFC/OFX (i.e. Microsoft Money™) file format.
Added in are convenience features, among them the printing (and automatic reprinting) of club ID cards, or a webcam interface, allowing member photographs to be taken on site and imported directly into the database; flatbed scanners are supported as well.

A special 'one-click' feature allows the user to send the encrypted and compressed database to Austrosoft for diagnostic purposes.
Highest on the list of priorities are the stability of the system and its ease of use through an intuitive user interface. AS Club is coded in C++ and comprises in excess of  ~100,000 LoC.

screenshot "asCLUB"

Software projects have been implemented using the following compiler and development systems:

  • Assembler Control Data CDC 1700 (a process control computer)
  • Assembler Siemens 404/3 , a mini computer (for three years, H. Syrowatka had been involved in the development and maintenance of the operating system and authored the Assembler and OS manuals)
  • Assembler (and Macro Assembler) IBM 370 and later, Siemens BS2000
  • Assembler PLAN ICL 1900/2900 (resulting in the ConPLAN emulator spin-off)
  • FORTRAN IV (IBM, Siemens and CDC)
  • ANSI COBOL
  • RPG III (program maintenance)
  • PASCAL (Borland)
  • C, C++ (Borland, Microsoft)

        Austrosoft founding member
         Helmut F. Syrowatka

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Austrosoft bases current software design on the following tools and systems:

  • Microsoft Windows OS 2000 / 2003 / XP / Vista / 7 / 8 / 10
  • Borland C++ Builder, Borland Delphi;  both CLX cross-platform ports to Linux
  • Embarcadero RAD Studio
  • Microsoft Visual Studio
  • Linux OS, leveraging CLX and the RAD tools mentioned
  • Interbase; ODBC/SQL compliant DB systems
  • fast and efficient cgi-interfaced web applications, built with Embarcadero RS
  • Drupal-framework (open-source) for interactive websites (PHP, mySQL)