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IBM i Loves RPG

February 14, 2018


Happy Valentines's Day! With everyone declaring their undying love for one another today, we thought we'd investigate the ongoing and still vibrant relationship between RPG and IBM i.

Just yesterday, IBM announced the latest round of Technology Refreshes for IBM i: TR 4 for 7.3  and TR 8 for 7.2.

The big hype is likely to be surrounding the support for Power9 servers, which is definitely cool and exciting--if you're into hardware. In many shops, RPGers do a bit of everything and we're sure many of you will want to read up on all the latest news about Power9. But not here.

Then there are those RPGers like us - who don't even know what kind of hardware we're running on. What's really important to us? RPG enhancements, of course! And there's a big one in this announcement.

If you clicked on one of the links above and scanned the page quickly, you may have missed it. The RPG enhancements appear under the heading "Rational Development Studio for i". You may have mistaken that as describing something related to RDi and perhaps you skipped it because you've already read about the latest in RDi. (You did read our blog and our EXTRA article on that subject, right?)

The new DATA-INTO operation holds a lot of promise. Much as Open Access extended the language's "file" handling capabilities, DATA-INTO extends the ability to handle data of any kind and put it into an RPG array or data structure. How can it handle any kind of data? Because you (or someone else) will be able to write custom logic to parse out any clump of data and tell RPG to place it into the appropriate fields.

That's all we'll say about DATA-INTO here because we have already written an EXTRA article for next week’s newsletter that goes into a lot more detail on the subject. We're looking forward to hearing RPG lead architect Barbara Morris cover it in detail at the RPG & DB2 Summit and hearing how other RPGers there envision using it.

So, does one announcement—even with a big RPG enhancement—provide proof of undying love between RPG and IBM i? Want more evidence?

Check out the Help Systems 2018 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results. On the question about what language(s) your shop uses for new  development (note NEW, not just maintenance), RPG leads the pack by a long shot with over 87 percent of shops developing new code in RPG. The survey shows SQL (at 74 percent) a relatively close second. But comparing SQL to RPG is a bit of an apples and oranges situation since so much of that SQL is likely embedded into RPG programs. In third place is CL, of course. After that comes all the others—anywhere from 12 to 46 percent reporting using languages like PHP, Java, .NET, C++ and COBOL.

So don't let anyone tell you no one uses RPG any more for new development. The survey (and our own experience) says that well over 3/4 of IBM i shops still use RPG—nearly always in conjunction with other languages—for their new development.

RPG and IBM i—a love match made in heaven. Or was it in Rochester? Or Toronto?

Posted February 14, 2018 | Permalink

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