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What Every RPGer Needs to Know, Part 2

The final five of our top 10 list of important skills


 

Last month, we covered the first five of the top 10 things we think RPGers need to know. This month, we complete that list.

6. Use a Modern Code-Editing Environment

Those of you who’ve been reading our articles for a while know that this is a favorite topic for us. We've been Remote System Explore (RSE) fans for years and we were CODE fans for many years before that. Another way of putting it is that we haven't been SEU users for a very long time because we find it painfully cumbersome and slow compared with the modern alternatives. We’re dismayed at the number of RPG developers who still use SEU as their primary development tool.

This article doesn’t allow enough space to cover all of the reasons we're so loyal to the Eclipse-based RSE toolset and could never go back to SEU, but here are some:

  • The capability to see two to three times the number of source lines on the screen.
  • The fact that commented-out lines of code are obvious due to their color (without inserting any special characters) and we can easily filter out the commented lines to see only the "real" code.
  • We can have multiple members open at once—as many as we want or need. We can click or hot key between them or see them in a split screen—either horizontally or (our preferred) vertically and with a big enough monitor, we can split the screen into three or four views.
  • Unlimited levels of undo and redo—even after we've saved the source back to the source member and compiled it (as long as we still have the source open in the editor).
  • Speaking of saving and compiling without closing the source, that's another feature we love. And if we (heaven forbid!) have any compile-time errors, we never need to look at a compile listing because our error messages appear on the screen just below the edit window. No hunting for the line of code to fix the problem because clicking on an error in the list positions the editor to the line in question.
  • An outline of our programs is readily available that contains all of the field names (internally and externally described) and their definitions, and identifies each line of code where they’re referenced. The Outline View also contains all subroutine and/or subprocedure names and all of the locations they’re referenced to in the source member. Simply clicking on a field name or reference in the Outline View is just one of the many enhanced ways to navigate through the source.

OK, even though we've just scratched the surface of our top reasons for choosing RSE over SEU, we need to move on to the remaining top skills. You can read more about our love of RSE in “RSE Lessons Learned While Teaching,” “Code on the Road” and “New RSE Features Unveiled in WDSc V7.”

7. RPG Web Integration Options

Don't let anyone get away with saying that RPG is just for green screens and reports—least of all your fellow RPGers. You can create powerful, interactive browser-based applications—even Web 2.0 applications—powered entirely with RPG logic. If you’ve been under the impression that you need to know Java, PHP, .NET or C# to develop Web applications, you're missing out on a whole new way to use your favorite language.

That's not to say you don’t need different skills to develop Web applications. You'll almost certainly need to know at least basic HTML and JavaScript, the "DDS" of browsers. You may not and probably should not be the one to design screen layout—DDS green-screen designers rarely make the best Web-page designers! But you still need to know enough about these technologies to interact with them. With those skills, you can begin to work with CGI programming using RPG. The CGIDEV2 toolset from IBM helps to make programming RPG Web applications relatively simple and Giovanni Perotti's Easy400 Web site provides tons of education to get you started. See also our articles “RPG - Anchoring Your Team,” “An ‘Easy’ Route to Web-Enabling RPG Applications” and “As Easy as CGI[DEV2].” You’ll find many third-party toolsets to make RPG-oriented Web programming easier and faster than writing all of the logic yourself.

Of course, just because you can write Web applications using only RPG doesn’t mean that it’s best in all cases. Many shops write the front-end user interaction portions of their Web applications using other languages and call RPG routines to perform the background business logic. Of course, this requires that your RPG logic be callable from anywhere so refer to skill #5 in last month's EXTRA.

 

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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