Converting an existing Oracle Forms application to J2EE

My company is looking at a potential project that involves converting a fairly large Oracle Forms application to J2EE. Given the size of the application what we have suggested is that we spend a week to learn their application. This will be followed by three weeks of HLD which will involve the following
- Develop an overall Feature Breakdown Structure
- Develop a high level object model of the overall application

This will be followed by a detail design phase of two weeks for the features that will be tackled in Phase-1. Phase-1 will comprise 3 iterations, each about 3 weeks long.

Does the group have any advice on how to approach the HLD phase such that we can get a high-level overall object model without trying to get into details ?


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Jeff De Luca's picture

Scope and Sizing Estimate

Hi Rajesh,

some good questions and I'm sure we can help you. I'm on the road at the moment however, but I wanted to at least post "something" to let you know that I saw your question and that I'll post something more substantial during this week.

Gee, Oracle Forms is a blast from the past for me. I worked on a big project that was looking to either migrate/rewrite from Forms 3 (yes, really!) to Forms 4.5 (back then) or rewrite in OO (C++ back then).

Developing the overall model without getting into all the details is fundamental to making that process work and to FDD itself. Having said that, there does need to be sufficient detail to be able to scope a model in the first place. i.e. otherwise you have nothing to faciliate with and you will end up modeling the world. (more to come on this in another post)

3 weeks of modeling suggest a project construction phase of about 9 months. Does this match your current estimate?

If you search this site or use the "interesting threads" links on the homepage you will find some good discussion on modeling and other concerns of the startup phase.



Thanks for the response. In the first week we are actually getting training on the existing application. There is also existing documentation such as Help guides etc that I am planning to use as a starting point for building the FBS. Once I have a rough FBS put together we will use that as a starting point for Object Modeling. In the first three weeks which we are calling HLD our goals is to develop a pretty high level object model of the entire system (as much as possible). We are going to start with the most important parts of the application so that even if we dont get everything done by three weeks we atleast have got the core parts covered.

While that is happening in parallel we plan to identify the module or feature sets that we plan to tackle first. So after the HLD phase of 3 weeks we will do some detail designing for the first module or feature set. This will include not only detailed object modeling but also refining the feature list and also building some hi-fidelity mockups.

The existing system is huge about 2500 Form modules. So I have refused to give the client an estimate for the total effor till I get through the first iteration.


szego's picture


Hi Rajesh,

it sounds interesting - Oracle Forms is a real blast from the past for me too! I'd just like to clarify a few things before I run off in the wrong direction here. The initial 3 week HLD exercise you mention a features list and modelling - are you planning to do them in that order?

I'm not sure, because you describe developing just the FBS. That could be many things - is it more of a scoping exercise, given that you've just spent some time investigating the current system. Or do you plan to fully enumerate all the Subject Areas and Busines Activities but not the Features? If you are talking features, do you mean development level features as fine grained as "generate the unique number for an order", or are you talking more along the lines of marketing features like "the system must be able to display contextual help"? I am very curious.

I'm also interested in the plan for the detailed iterations, but will wait to hear your plans for the initial acitivites so that I have some more context.

Thanks, Paul :)


Thanks for your reply. Please see my comments below

>>.....The initial 3 week HLD exercise you mention a features list and >> modelling - are you planning to do them in that order?

Yes - that is the plan. Please see my response to Jeff's posting where I have described the approach in more detail.

Regarding the granularity of the FBS - at the end of the HLD I am not intending to create a fine grained one. As we get into the detail design phase for an iteration we will also refine the appropriate feat ure sets and get them as fine grained as possible. The goal is to get them to between 0.5 - 2 days in effort estimates.


There is another way...

Hi Rajesh,

There is another way...which will ensure complete accuracy, lower risk and enormous cost savings for your project.

I represent Quintessence Systems (see We have a tool which delivers a 100% automated migration from Oracle Forms (and Oracle PL/SQL) into Java. We work closely with partners - I'm sure Jeff's team can help here as well - who are skilled at taking this Java code and creating a model in rapid time. This modeling process can uniquely be extended to a create a Requirements Model directly related to the features/functionality of your Forms application.

Once you have a model to your satisfication a fully functional J2EE application can be automatically generated. Future development and maintenance can take place at either the model or code level.

The benefits for your company and your customer would be:

- No need to eyeball a massive Forms code base to manually distil functionality/features upfront - you can deduce this from the initial model generated.

- An initial model is quickly derived from the automatically generated, well organised Java code (no doubt some re-modeling will be required). This is a significant deliverable which will give your customer early confidence in the process you are undertaking.

- Your customer inherits a very rich set of model-based information which links Requirements to Features and Functionality.

- Obvious elapsed time, resources and economic savings that come from using proven automated tools.

Hope this helps.