Developing New Applications

Several tools exist to help you develop new applications. Choosing the right one can be difficult. Fundamentally these tools fall into two basic categories: Those that are designed to allow you to leverage your existing RPG skills, and those that take a fourth-generation language (4GL) or table-driven approach.

The minute you start shopping for Web development tools, one thing becomes immediately apparent: Every tool is easy to use and will maximize your existing skills, integrate fully with existing applications, effortlessly eliminate your application backlog and leap tall buildings in a single bound. OK, we're exaggerating a bit. None of them actually eliminates your application backlog.

From that somewhat tongue-in-cheek introduction, you'll hopefully appreciate that this article can't and isn't intended to provide a comprehensive analysis of every available product. Also, this article isn't meant to endorse or compare specific tools. The tools we cite are those that we've had the most exposure to. Many of these tools, as well as others, are included in the Solutions Guide.

When customers ask us to help them select a Web development tool, we first look at a couple simple points. One is the amount in the customers budget-or perhaps more important, the potential budget. There's a tool for just about every budget. Indeed, the cheapest of the tools, IBM's CGIDEV2, is free. Also, most tools offer a trial version that you can download and experiment with before you commit.

Nonetheless, it's probably a good idea to identify where your organization likely fits on the hamburger-to-filet-mignon scale. If the tool in question costs more than your annual IT budget, there's little point in running a trial version (unless of course your demonstration is really impressive). Remember, when trying to establish the true cost of the tool, several factors should be considered:

  • Does the vendor charge a single price for the tool regardless of the number of developers, or is there a per-developer cost?
  • Does the tool stand alone or are there other pre-requisite tools or components?
  • Does the tool require a runtime component? If so, is there an additional charge for each system on which its installed?
  • Does the tool require additional hardware components in the runtime environment, or is your iSeries server all you need?
  • Are there any costs associated with end users (i.e., does the tool require a runtime component to be installed on end-user workstations)?

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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