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Liam Allan Discusses His ILE Editor and More

Liam Allan explains why he developed an ILE editor and more in this episode of iTalk With Tuohy.

Paul Tuohy: Hi everybody and welcome to another iTalk with Tuohy. I'm joined today by the young gentleman―I think I have to call you now―Liam Allan. Hello, Liam.

Liam Allan: Hello, Paul.

Paul: So Liam, I was just looking―it's been over a year since we actually did our last iTalk.

Liam: I think that's right. I think it was just after COMMON Europe last year as well, I think.

Paul: Yeah. So doesn't time fly? So the other thing is that you're doing―this is a first on the iTalk scene that I'm now actually doing an iTalk with a movie star [laughs].

Liam: You're killing me here.

Paul: Yeah, I know so, but you are. You have just done a little mini―I don't know what you call it?  a promo movie?―with IBM. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that?

Liam: Well we felt like it would be mount the cameras and the two or three directors that were around. It was quite intense, seeing as I'm not usually a camera person. They gave me like the tightest t-shirt to wear and it was―it was, you know, it was a warm day. It was long. It was an interesting experience for sure. I still have not seen it yet. I have seen maybe the first 8-9 seconds and not finished it entirely, but from what it sounds like, people have enjoyed it. They continue to enjoy it, and as long as other people are happy, then I'm pretty happy about it. I guess that's good.

Paul: Okay so I'm just loving this that you haven't actually watched it. I do understand it. I mean people don't believe it, but I don't listen to these iTalks because I hate the sound of my voice. So I do understand the thing of not wanting to see yourself as well. Do you want to tell people a little bit about what exactly this movie was?

Liam: Ah, yeah sure. So in light of the IBM i 30th anniversary, we made a promo video―I think the idea to highlight that the system can do modern things, and I guess having a relatively young person on there would have been―is a good―you know it's a good thing for the platform and for the industry in general.

Paul: Yes.

Liam: So I think that was the goal and I think it worked, actually.

Paul: And your costar is a robot.

Liam: That's correct. That's Pepper, yeah. We are actually in a very close relationship now [laughs]. No but I think the marketing team did a good job in coming up with a video, because IBM came up with it entirely themselves and it was―they did a really good job and people were happy with it so-

Paul: Yeah so―

Liam: It was a long day of recording though, that's for sure. Yeah, never done that kind of thing before and I don't really have a good speaking voice so―

Paul: Ahh but you have the accent, Liam.

Liam: Oh, okay.

Paul: The accent goes a long way.

Liam: Well that helps, I think.

Paul: So and where did they actually do the movie? Where was it done?

Liam: So it was done in Austin, Texas, and it was in―it was in―at the IBM location in Austin, but it was in two buildings. I think half of it was in the innovation center, the Client Innovation Center, I think that's what it is called, and then the second half was in some of the offices. So it was the fact of―I was only there for two whole days. I flew out on Monday afternoon on a direct flight―which was nice―from Heathrow to Austin. That took about ten and a half hours, slept. I was there for two whole days. The first day was just hanging around in the offices and meeting people. The second day was for recording, and then I flew out on Thursday, got home on Friday and that was it. So it happened very quickly and―

Paul: Oh, you jetsetter, you.

Liam: It happened very quickly so.

Paul: So let me turn the conversation then Liam over to something a little bit more direct, which is some of your open-source work. This is something obviously that you've been talking about at the conference, and that as well is this open-source project that you've been doing on the editor. So do you want to tell us a little bit about that?

Liam: Um sure. So ILEditor is the way that most Americans have been saying it. Europeans like to say IL Editor like as in IL-Editor, which is fine. It's an alternative to RDi in that it's not as good as RDi, but it's a replacement for SEU and it's free. You can do your normal development tasks in there. Like you would be compiling and editing source code, be it RPG, COBOL or C or any i language in general. It's free and it's been―I've kind of had to take a break from it for the last few months because I've been traveling a lot and doing other work. Those have kind of taken precedence over that, but it's been around since―I think it's been free since about December time, open-source, which is cool. I think within maybe the next month or so I'm going to be taking a good solid week or two to actually have some down time working on it. It needs some TLC. It needs some bugs fixed and things like that, but development tasks, there's a lot to be done on it and a lot of enhancements to come so―

Paul: So if it's not a leading question, Liam: like why? Why did you do it?

Liam: Well the predecessor to ILEditor was a plug-in for notepad++ to edit source members and file programs and things like that. That was fine, but it was still kind of clunky because it was just a plug in on top of something else. Originally it was going to try and be like a Visual Studio extension―not Visual Studio code extension, but just a regular Visual Studio extension―but that didn't really work out for technical reasons. I won't go down that road―

Paul: Okay.

Liam: Then we tried the same with VS code and that didn't really work out because of the VS code works. Again, long technical discussion and we won't go down that road. In the end I had to―I wanted to create something from scratch just because I wanted it to work the way that existing developers would know, would find it easy to pick up and go. The real reason behind it is because as much as I like RDi, when I was using it, it can be slow at times. Bear in mind, you know―I'd been working with systems based in the U.S. and I'm in the U.K. RDi can definitely have its latency issues, you know I have benchmarks to prove it and things like that. So we were trying―it was to create something that just would work quickly, and you know I've made that―it works the way that I want it to work. You know it's got active―a fair amount of active users, which is really cool. I'm just making it work for how I want it to work and then all of a sudden people use it. So it's just an alternative really.

Paul: Yeah. So fair thing to say that for those who say if I'm working for a company and for some God forsaken reason my boss says "yeah, I don't want to invest in you having development tools like RDi," they now have no argument for getting rid of SEU because there is a free open-source alternative out there?

Liam: Oh yeah, exactly. I'm just saying that mine is―you know while mine may be free and open-source there is also―I think the other alternative is MI workplace or M-I workplace. I think that's about 30 euros a year, and that has a pretty active development. But in general if you really don't have the option to use RDi, then there is really nothing stopping you from using ILEditor as well. Which is fine, you can do whatever suits you, I guess. It's an option.

Paul: So the editor itself then, is it Windows specific?

Liam: Ah I don't want to―okay. So right now it is Windows specific, and I did recently buy a Mac.

Paul: Yeah, see I knew that, Liam. That was the lead-in question.

Liam: I did recently buy a Mac. I can't really―I don't want to get ahead of myself, but it's being worked on. We have a―there's a working build and it kind of works, but we just need to make it a bit more user friendly. So―the difference between the Windows and the Mac version is that they sadly are two different code bases. The Windows version is written in .net, the .net framework, and the Mac version is a native app, so it's all in Swift. It's all native and so it's almost been accrued completely right―almost. It's coming but there is just no―again it will be open-source as well, which is cool, but no ETA I'm afraid on that.

Paul: Yeah, no. So just as a matter of interest: between working on the .net and the Swift version, do you have a preference yet? Are you starting to, are―is it just different development environment and that's it?

Liam: Are you saying do I have a preference between Windows and Mac OS?

Paul: Oh no, no, no. I mean, would I give you a lead in question like that [laughs]? No, no, it wasn't. I'm just wondering. I mean for somebody who has been doing like Windows development and suddenly―well not suddenly―but then moving into that Mac environment. Do you find it very different or is it, as I say, just another development environment?

Liam: It is just another development environment. I think the fact that―the thing that I've not struggled with, but the thing that has taken me time to pick up is, you know, all the Mac gestures and having a mouse that doesn't have a right-click on it, having the FN key to use the function keys, those kinds of things. But I am actually going to, probably in the next week or two, is actually just go full Mac. I've already unplugged all my desktop PC and I've bought the keyboard and the mouse and I have a monitor, so I'll be running Windows on my Mac. So so I'll be full Mac within a couple of weeks, I think.

Paul: Yeah, it's―I knew we'd get you to the dark side at some stage [laughs].

Liam: Yeah, it's been really good and it's been a long time coming, because one of the most requested things for ILEditor is a Mac version. People have tried it on the Windows and they only tried because they want to use it, but there's a lot of Mac users and it needs to happen eventually. So it will happen. It will happen sometime.

Paul: Yeah. Yeah, so you said you've moved to Mac. How are you finding it?

Liam: Oh, I love it. It's not even the operating system. It's just the physical device itself. The battery is fantastic. The speakers are really good. One of my favorite things is that because I don't really use a Windows laptop―but Google docs works offline on the Mac, so I can open up Chrome and type to and I can work on my stuff offline. So I don't even use keynote―well I don't use―I have keynote but I don't use it to work on slides like fully Google docs at the moment. That's been really, really good, so―and not even that, just how simple it is to down―well install applications. Yeah, it's just all around very nice, and the keyboard is really good. I love the keyboard.

Paul: Yeah and by the way when we finish this call, I'll talk to you about how to get a right click on your mouse just―it is possible.

Liam: Oh, okay.

Paul: So listen, anyway: one of the things actually you touched on it there just a little while ago when you talked about that you've been doing a lot of traveling. And I know because our paths keep crossing at different conferences and that, but true to say, I think it has been mainly the U.S. and Europe you've been traveling in? So do you―anywhere on your bucket list at the moment that you'd like to go, that you'd like to travel to?

Liam: Yeah, there are two, and the reason these are on the top is because they both have direct flight, so yeah [laughs]. One of them is Tokyo. It's ten and a half hours by flight overnight and it seems like a―you know, I want the culture shock. I want something different again. Like when I first went to the U.S., it was crazy insane what was going on. I didn't―it was such a weird feeling and you know I'd love that again, and I feel like Tokyo might give that to me. A different culture would be good. And the second is Australia. Again, we just got a direct flight there from Heathrow to Perth, 17 1/2 hours, but I've―again I've never been there and I think that'd be an interesting experience too, so―

Paul: Yeah, I'm sure they will. Well I mean, Australia is an interesting place. I mean I've been out there a couple of times but yeah. It's interesting that you picked Tokyo, because that one is top of my bucket list as well. So anybody out there listening who wants to bring us to Tokyo, myself and Liam, I think we could make ourselves available.

Liam: Any conferences, me and Paul can be your guys. Yeah.

Paul: Okay Liam, so listen: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me out of what I know is a busy schedule. Actually you're just back yesterday from Austin again, aren't you?

Liam: Yeah, that's right. Yeah.

Paul: So listen, thank you for taking the time. I look forward to the Mac version of that editor coming out, and I'm going to be looking out for you at the Oscars next year for your upcoming movie roles [laughs]. Okay, everyone. That's it for this iTalk. Tune in again in a couple of weeks for the next one. Bye for now.

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