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Hear Ye, Hear Ye! It's Announcement Time!

April 29, 2014

We had an unexpected week off last week due to some issues related to a DDoS attack on the blogging platform's server. Did you miss us? We know a few people did because they wrote to us, which was nice, but we're back now and just in time for the 7.2 announcement, which took place yesterday (Monday, April 28).

In all honesty, the first thing we should point out is that there is very little new RPG content in this release. And most of what is there will probably not immediately impact the majority of you as it relates to CCSID conversions. As Barbara Morris pointed out to us when we discussed this topic in Toronto last week, "You had your presents early, you can't expect to still get another great big gift now." Of course the "present" that she was referring to was the introduction of completely free-form RPG that debuted back with TR7 at the end of 2013. The best part of getting our present "early" was that more of us can get our hands on it now, as the support made it into V7.1. Much better than having to wait until the shop installs 7.2. We'll be experimenting with some of the new 7.2 options as soon as we can get our hands on an upgraded system to see how many of the issues relating to UTF-8 fields 7.2 helps resolve. You can read Barbara's take on the enhancements here.

In fact the only non-CCSID enhancements relate to the ability to control the length of the year portion returned by a %SUBDT. In addition you can also specify the number of fractional seconds in a timestamp. However, this enhancement is really only for external compatibility. RPG will still only populate the same amount of data--we just get more zeroes!

For RSE users, RDi V9.1 was also announced yesterday. The biggest item in the new release is a code coverage tool for testing. You can test your programs and the tool will tell you which lines of code were executed--or perhaps more importantly, which were not executed! Initially it will work only for testing programs in batch but we're hoping it will offer more options in the future.

Also in the new release is yet more proof of how important it is to let IBM know what features you want to see in the future. Several popular Requests for Enhancement (RFEs) were answered with this release. Two of them related to one of our all-time favorite features--the Outline view. The RFEs asked for searching or filtering on items such as field names in the outline, so in 9.1 there's a search box at the top of the outline similar to the one in the Preferences dialog.

The RDi F1 help key will now recognize BIFs and keywords (hurray!) and the wizards for procedures, D specs and Java method calls now have the option to generate code using the new all-free format syntax introduced a few months ago.

So what else is there in 7.2 that is likely to be of interest to developers? Well for one thing the IBM i Integrated Application Server is now powered by Liberty 8.5, the latest app server from the Websphere folks. IBM feels that this will be a good replacement for Tomcat. It is also upward compatible to full Websphere, which means that your experimental use today will not have to be rethought if and when you need to "move up." Although 7.2 marks the public debut of Liberty on IBM i, it has actually been in use under the covers by a number of IBM tools since 2013 so any rough edges should have been worn off by now. Also of interest to the Java aficionados among you, 7.2 introduces a new version of the JT400 Open Lite toolkit aimed firmly at the mobile market.

Those of you that develop Web applications will be pleased to see an update in the Apache server, which takes it to version 2.4 with improved performance and support for Server Name Indication (SNI) and
Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP). We know many folks have been waiting for those to appear.

There are too many DB2 enhancements to cover here so we will simply refer you to Mike Cain's blog for more information on those. We also that know many of you make extensive use of the browser based Navigator, Tim Rowe's blog covers the new features in detail.

As and when we get to play with 7.2 we'll be back with more. In the meantime try to be grateful for the presents you've already had.

Posted April 29, 2014| Permalink

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