Getting the RPG Word Out


Oftentimes, if you want something done, you just have to do it yourself. When it came to spreading the word about the usefulness of the RPG language he loves, Scott Klement decided to do it himself.


Following discussions with colleagues about programming sockets code from RPG and receiving dismissive responses, Klement, IS manager for Milwaukee-based Klement's Sausage Company, Inc., decided to make his case online by adapting one of his existing Web pages to include an RPG IV sockets tutorial.


"I talked to people who were spending a great deal of money hiring C programmers to do simple sockets programming, saving the information into a file and then processing it in their RPG code," Klement says. "I said, Why dont you just do the sockets code from RPG? I was told that youd have to be crazy to use RPG for something like that. In fact, calling these APIs in RPG is almost exactly the same as it is in C, but theres a lack of documentation on how to do it. Originally, I was going to explain the process in e-mail, but I quickly discovered that there was too much to explain. I posted it on my Web site instead. That way, I could just e-mail people a link."


Up to that point, Klement's Web site had primarily been used as a means for him to provide information about himself to people with whom he often interacted in online communities-or bulletin board systems (BBS), similar to todays instant-messaging services-but whom he had never personally met. Even today, his site links to one of the biggest and fanciest BBSs with which he was involved.


From those humble beginnings rose an RPG resource thats proven to be a useful tool for both new and seasoned RPG programmers. Available at no charge online, also features access to open-source projects Klement has been involved with as well as information about his computing background, which started at the age of 11 on a System/34. His Web page has proven so useful that Klement and his site were honored with an Innovation Award during the March COMMON conference in Chicago.


"I received an e-mail one day from Jon Paris saying that he and Susan Gantner wanted to nominate me for an iSeries*-related award, and that they needed my permission to proceed," Klement says. "Maybe three weeks later, I received a phone call from Bev Russell, president of COMMON. She congratulated me and told me what I had won. How often are you sitting at work, minding your own business, and receive a call from the president of COMMON? Now that was a surprise!"


Although winning an award was surprising in its own way, Klement says some of the feedback he receives about his site is almost equally surprising. For example, Klement says he often receives feedback from ILE C programmers seeking information on how to learn sockets or IFS APIs. This is interesting because Klement first set up his tutorials because most of the documentation he could find was for C. In addition to such ironic feedback, Klement also hears from visitors from some surprising places.


"One day I received an e-mail from a gentleman who said he'd like me to know how helpful my documentation had been," Klement says. "He proceeded to list several very important institutions in the United States government that have used my tutorials. That was very exciting."


Going forward, Klement says hell continue to maintain his award-winning site, but he says some of the more ambitious ideas he has in mind for the future will likely take some time, seeing as how he can only devote so much time to his side project. Still, he plans to expand some of his existing content as well as add new features to the open-source projects area. He also hopes to provide additional topics to his tutorials.


"Unfortunately, finding time to work on all of these ideas is a real problem, so they move along slowly," Klement says. "Obviously, the work that I get paid for has to be done first."



Ryan Rhodes is a freelance writer for IBM Systems Magazine.

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