This paper introduces a hybrid method to update legacy programs, thus combining the visual interactivity of window programs with the qualities of legacy code. Because migration from C, Fortran or Pascal to another programming language is very time-consuming and error-prone, it can be more beneficial to integrate legacy executable files into a visual interactive window shell. Such a shell program is described in this work. Its main part is a multi-file manager with an executable file as the main building block and MyFile as the base class of the resulting UML model. The window shell chosen here runs under the Microsoft Windows 9x/NT/2k/XP operating systems, and the program language to implement the designed shell is Visual Basic. The final shell program was tested with different types of executable files for earth satellite orbit determination, tidal acceleration computation and deformation analysis. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.