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It's a Mac Happy Day!

October 11, 2016

Well it has been too long since we wrote, but now we are back with some really happy news to convey.

A few weeks ago, IBM finally announced something that we had been begging and pleading for, for a very long time: support for a fully native Mac version of RDi. Thank you, thank you, thank you IBM!

Now admittedly, welcome as the news was, it didn't come as a complete surprise to us. IBM had asked us to check out the beta version some weeks before the announcement and we had been very happy with what we saw. But, of course, we couldn't talk about that at the time.

The Mac support is part of the 9.5.1 version of RDi and while to us it was THE big item, there are many other great features in this new release. For example there is now a toggle available in the Outline view that lets you remove all entries for unreferenced fields, prototypes, etc. Oh how we would have loved that feature when we were working on a project a short while ago. In that situation the prototypes for hundreds of subprocedures were contained in a single /COPY file but typically any given program only used four or five of them. Plowing your way though all the unused ones to find the parameter details of the one you wanted was, to put it mildly, a royal pain. This feature would have saved us hours of work. Another new feature that many people had asked for, Kerberos authentication, is also available in this release.

But this blog post is about the Mac version, so we will concentrate on that for now and return to talk about all the other new features when we have had a bit more time to assimilate them. When we first requested Mac support from IBM we told them that if the Verifier was not part of the initial package we would gladly give it up in return for running natively on Mac.  We knew that the Verifier was not written in Java and therefore would present more of a porting challenge than the rest of the product. So when that was indeed not part of the new support we were not surprised. We were however a little more concerned that syntax checking was also omitted. In practice we have found this to be less of a disadvantage than we had expected it to be. Not sure if this is because the color-coding tends to make typos more obvious but regardless, it has not so far been a problem. Needless to say we would still like IBM to add this support in the future and no doubt others would like to see the Verifier but frankly we are so happy to be able to dump Windows (other than when teaching RDi to Windows users) that we aren't going to complain too loudly.

So how well does it work? On the whole very well. In many areas, as expected, it is much faster than running in the Windows Virtual Machine we have been using. The biggest problem we faced when we started out was that some of the keyboard shortcuts had moved from using the Control key to using the Apple key. But not all of them. And there's no apparent logic behind which have moved and which have not. We're still wrestling a bit with this aspect.

For those of you who use Macs, you can use your existing 9.5 license key to activate the new version. Give it a try; we think you'll be happy with the results. We'll write another more detailed blog on the Mac version differences once we've managed to work them all out.

One thing we should warn you about. The addition of the Mac package has raised the size of the full download image to a massive 6Gb. Given that IBM seem to assign their slowest servers to host these downloads that means it can take a very, very long time to download. For that reason, we have found it far better to use the Installation Manager (IM) to do a web installation rather than to download the full image. That ensures that only the components you need are downloaded and in our experience that takes a fraction of the time that the image download takes.

Instructions for doing the web installation via IM can be found here. Note that there are two options discussed there: an automated procedure and a manual procedure. We haven’t tried the automated procedure, but it seems that it may only work for Windows installations, so for Mac users, we suggest you jump to the Manual Procedure on that page.

Of course if you install IM for Mac you do have one additional challenge: finding how to start it!  Obviously IBM's new association with Apple has not extended to their learning how to install products properly on a Mac. Access Client Services (ACS) has a similar problem but IM is even worse. To launch most applications on a Mac you simply select the app from the list in the Applications folder. In rare cases (Cisco being one example) you have to click down an additional level. To launch IM however, you have to go to Applications then IBM then InstallationManager and finally eclipse before you can find the IM application. That's just silly. If IBM want Mac users to take their software seriously they really need to do a better job. Even Microsoft manage to get this bit right (mostly) with their Office products for Mac!

If you want to check out the full announce details you'll find them at this link:

http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg27038481 or http://ibm.biz/rdi_hub

For our fellow Mac users, you can find a blog post on DeveloperWorks here. That post also contains a link to the specific known limitations for the Mac support in the announcement letter.





Posted October 11, 2016 | Permalink

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