The Case for CODE/400

We're always amazed at the number of shops with huge development backlogs that continue to use the tools and techniques of the past. There are better ways to develop RPG applications than using source entry utility (SEU), screen design aid (SDA) and report layout utility (RLU). For years now, we've been using CODE/400.

It's a great time to consider using CODE/400, because you probably already own it. With V5R1, CODE/400 became part of the WebSphere Development Toolset for iSeries (WDT400), which is included in the software package with your language compilers. So if you're at V5R1 (or even V4R5, in many cases) and have a compiler on your system, you should have the CDs to upgrade your workstation to a development platform. Later, we'll provide a few tips to get CODE/400 installed and running, but first, let's examine why you may want to.

CODE/400 (short for CoOperative Development Environment) is a Windows-based toolset that effectively replaces the aforementioned green-screen tools. In addition, it replaces whatever source-view debugger you're using and provides more functionality than the green-screen tools.

Due to limited space, well focus on the editor -- i.e., the SEU replacement. Perhaps in a later newsletter article, we'll examine some of the other tools.

Like SEU, the CODE editor is language sensitive. Unlike SEU, CODE syntax checks every line as soon as you move to the next line of code-whether you pressed Enter or not. CODE has a format line at the top of the edit panel, as does SEU. Unlike SEU however, the CODE format line is updated constantly to reflect the type of line on which the cursor is positioned. So regardless of the format at the top of the screen, you see the correct format for the line you're currently working on. The CODE format line highlights your cursor's position on the line of RPG code. Imagine how much easier it'll be to figure out whether that indicator is in the Hi, Lo or Eq position (assuming you still use those ancient coding methods <grin>). You can still do most SEU-like functions, such as prompting via F4 and line commands for Copy, Move and Delete. Because CODE is Windows-based, you may alternatively choose to use Cut, Copy and Paste.

CODE/400 offers a split-screen mode, as does SEU. However, with CODE, you can make the split vertical rather than horizontal or have multiple splits in a single screen. And best of all, all files open in the split screen can be editable at the same time. As nice as this split-screen support sounds, we rarely use it because we can have multiple files open in the CODE editor, optionally in separate windows, which we can then position side by side to compare or copy and paste between them.

The CODE editor has a feature called token highlighting, which uses color to differentiate parts of a line of code. For example, Factor 1 is in a different color from the operation code, which is in a different color from Factor 2, etc. This is especially helpful when editing RPG/400 code, where there's no space between the operation code and Factor 2. Comments appear in yet another color, which saves time as we don't debug code that has previously been commented out.

















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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