CODE or WDSc -- Which is Right for You?

Awhile back, we examined the benefits of CODE/400. We hope many of you took our advice and are reaping the productivity benefits of the CODE editor and screen designer. Many things have changed since that article was written-CODE/400s name has been shortened to CODE and, with WebSphere Development Studio Client (WDSc), IBM has introduced an editor for RPG and COBOL that overlaps the CODE editors function.


You may be wondering something that several folks have asked us recently: "What about WDSc vs. CODE for RPG or COBOL developers? Why does IBM offer both, and which one should I use?" This article attempts to clear up some of the confusion and provide our perspective on choosing the right workstation-based toolset for your environment.

Lets begin with a brief overview of WDSc. This toolset is integrated into a virtual workbench environment. WDSc is built on the Java-based Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE) as "an open, extensible IDE for anything and nothing in particular." Strange as it sounds, its an accurate description. The idea of Eclipse is to be flexible and extensible enough to work equally well for the C++ or Java programmer developing for Linux, a webmaster developing HTML and Javascript or an RPG programmer developing for the iSeries by providing a framework for plug-in tools. IBM provides many WDSc plug-ins that are oriented to RPG or COBOL programmers on the iSeries. In the longer-term, WDSc will demonstrate even greater power as other software vendors supply plug-in tools. This process has already begun with vendors such as SoftLanding, Aldon and ASC leading the way.

WDSc is well suited for developers who do more than RPG and DDS development. It offers several built-in perspectives that allow developers to switch quickly and easily from an environment oriented toward RPG green-screen development to one oriented toward Java, XML or Web page development. Plug-ins also supply wizards for JavaServer Page (JSP) and HTML generators to allow RPG/COBOL developers to create browser-based applications without writing Java or HTML code.

The WebSphere name or the much-touted support for "e-business development" shouldnt scare traditional RPG ,COBOL, DDS and CL programmers. Its important to note that substantial productivity benefits can be gained in the edit/compile/debug cycle.

For starters, theres an editor for your RPG code built into the WDSc workbench that has most of the features we outlined in the CODE/400 article. This includes the verifier that works with cached external file descriptions to make compile-time errors a thing of the past. It also adds new features, such as code completion, which supplies a pull-down list of candidate field names, operation codes or built-in functions when you need a little help remembering what comes next. The Outline View works with the editor to provide an outline of your programs data and logic. As you can see in Figure 1, you can quickly access the definitions of fields defined within the program as well as those from externally described files. You can also navigate directly to subroutines or subprocedures in your source member by clicking on their names.

The Remote Systems Explorer (RSE) view is similar in some ways to the CODE File Open drill-down type dialog. However, RSE allows you to interact with more than just source files and members. As shown in Figure 2, you can drill into program objects, and physical and logical files to get information about them. In addition, many commonly used commands (e.g., add or remove libraries from the library list, change your current library, create a new member or create a duplicate object) are available from the RSE view. In addition, you can manage many OS/400 objects in the same ways that you manage local workstation files, such as drag and drop between lists to move, or copy a member or file.

So with so much of its function overlapping that of the WDSc workbench editor, why have CODE in the package? First, not all CODE functionality is in the WDSc toolset. Most notably, the CODE Designer (DDS screen and report design tool) doesnt exist in the WDSc workbench. However, you can launch it from the RSE view.


Jon Paris is a technical editor with IBM Systems Magazine and co-owner of Partner400.

Susan Gantner is a technical editor with IBM Systems Magazine and co-owner of Partner400.

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