iSeries EXTRA: New Year's Resolutions for Professionals

Because this is the first edition of iSeries EXTRA for 2003, we decided that some New Year's resolutions were in order. We have our own list of personal resolutions and our editor will be delighted to hear that getting our monthly copy in on time without being nagged is high on the list. However, we thought we'd take the liberty of suggesting a few that you might want to consider for your "professional resolution" list.

I will write better RPG code.

Here are some specific suggestions we have in mind:

  • Convert programs from RPG/400 to RPG IV the next time you perform maintenance on them.
  • Get out of the numbered indicator habit. Use appropriate built-in functions (BIFs) and named indicators to create more understandable code.
  • Get the subprocedure habit. It'll make your code more maintainable and bulletproof.
  • Examine the list of BIFs in the RPG reference manual and try a new one each week.
  • Investigate using varying-length fields and free-form calcs.

I will try new development tools.

Perhaps the most obvious candidate is CODE (formerly known as CODE/400). Because it's now included in the WebSphere Development Studio (WDS) toolset, which is included with every development system, it should be available to you.

VisualAge RPG is another tool worth a look. Even if you don't see a need for a client or client/server application (for which VARPG is designed), we recommend that RPGers try their hand at creating at least a simple application with VARPG. It's a good way to develop your skills in two important areas-event-driven programming and breaking programs down into small, modular components that perform a single function. Use it as an education tool and you may find yourself deploying applications developed with it.

If you have the horsepower and memory on your workstation (500 MB is recommended), examine the Remote Systems Explorer in the WebSphere Development Studio Client (WDSc). This tool, the successor to PDM, is based on the much-discussed Eclipse workbench. It's reminiscent of Operations Navigator, but is more flexible for development tasks. Try it, we suspect that you'll like it.

I will learn a new language.

Of course, we're not talking about national languages here. Instead, consider learning a new development language. We're not suggesting that you replace RPG as your primary development language, but other languages can be used to complement your RPG applications. Examples include SQL (to replace those OPNQRYF CLPs), HTML, XML or Java. While you may think you don't have an immediate need for any of these languages, if you don't know what these languages can do, how do you know for sure? Learning something new keeps your mind open, which is never a bad thing. You'd be surprised to find how many programmers tell us that learning Java significantly improved their RPG.


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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