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IBM i News You May Have Missed

August 16, 2017

For this blog entry we decided that we would focus on giving you our take on a few of the recent news items from around the IBM i world that you might have missed.

Mike Pavlak ... Moving On

Our first item concerns our friend Mike Pavlak. For many years now Mike has worked for Zend (the folks who supply PHP for the IBM i), leading their campaign for modernizing IBM i applications with PHP. Mike has now decided to spread his wings beyond PHP solutions and has joined Montreal-based Fresche Solutions as an IBM i application modernization strategist. You can find more information on Mike and his new role with Fresche.

For us this is both good and bad news. Good because it is great to see a friend advance in his career and be recognized as the industry leader that he is. Bad because we are sorry to see Zend lose such a valuable resource. Luckily for us Mike will still be able to deliver his Hands-On PHP Workshop at the upcoming RPG & DB2 Summit in Minneapolis.

Good luck, Mike, and just think of all the poutine and excellent beers you can explore on your trips to Head Office!

RDi "Lite?"

Several times in the past, usually in response to complaints that Rational Developer for IBM i (RDi) is too expensive, we have suggested that perhaps someone should create an RFE for a lightweight version. Well finally someone has!  Now all it needs is a few more votes and perhaps IBM will take notice. Right now IBM has classified it as "Under Consideration".

You can find and vote for the RFE here. Don't forget that to vote you have to be signed in with your IBM ID (i.e. a registered email address).

Speaking of RDi ...

This week brought one of the more surprising news releases we have seen in a while. The announcement was made by HelpSystems and basically says that they have entered into an collaborative agreement with IBM whereby Help will work with IBM to "accelerate enhancements and marketing" of a number of products including RDi. Help have apparently taken over the development tasks for the products. You can read the full press release.

Why is this "surprising?” For one thing, if IBM needed additional development resources they already have their own offshoring capabilities in both India and China. In fact, much of IBM iI development work seems to be being done in China in recent years. For another, ,, HelpSystems seems an odd choice for a development tool such as RDi. A company such as Arcad or Fresche who that already does extensive plug-in work for RDi would seem to be a more natural fit. The other products included in the announcement are firmly in Help's wheelhouse, which makes the inclusion of RDi look even stranger. Exactly what the "marketing" part of "accelerate enhancements and marketing" means remains to be seen. RDi could certainly use some marketing—despite having grown in leaps and bounds in recent years, its market penetration is still way too low. Sadly SEU and PDM still rule the roost in way too many shops.

The one thing we are really keeping our fingers crossed over is that the changes will not impact the Toronto RDi team's ongoing interaction with the user community. The support they have provided via internet lists and IBM's own DeveloperWorks has been stellar. They led the effort to utilize the Request for Enhancement (RFE) process, delivering on user requests regularly with each new release. They should be a model for all IBM development groups of how to make sure their products meet the needs of their users.

Liam Allan's Notepad: RPG & IBM i Cmd

By now you have probably heard of Liam Allan--the annoyingly young IBM i enthusiast (for us, anybody under 50 is "annoyingly young" and Liam is only 20!) whose contributions to the platform just keep growing and growing. If you haven't heard of Liam then take a listen to our friend Paul Tuohy's iTalk session with Liam. You'll find a transcript of the chat on that page too if "listening" isn’t practical for you in the office.

Liam's latest offering is also targeted at the "I can't afford RDi" developer and consists of a couple of plugins for the free Notepad++ Windows editor. The first, known as Notepad-RPG provides colorization of RPG source and works well for those who are able to store their programs in the IFS. The second component is IBMiCmd, which is a Notepad++ plugin that adds the ability to download and edit from source physical files, submit compiles, and even get the error listing back in the editor.

For us, the biggest downside of course is that Notepad++ is a Windows- only product. We also are not big fans of the Notepad++ interface, but since it is very popular perhaps that is just us. The tool still has a lot of rough edges which that Liam is working hard to smooth out but it is well worth taking a look at if SEU <shudder> is your only other option.

Posted August 16, 2017 | Permalink

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