About

Funny name for a developer’s blog, huh? I inherited it…

I work in a software house that creates software running on the IBM i. I’m a developer (coder/programmer/analyst etc.) and I’ve been doing the same thing, more or less , for the last twenty years – RPGIII. The work is interesting, but the technological advances made by IBM on the i passed me – and my colleagues – by.

In actual fact, we’ve just finished a course aimed at bringing us up to speed with all the things our beloved platform can do. And immediatley prior to this course we still called our platform an AS/400, even though it dropped the name some fifteen years past. Talk about late developers.

Anyway, along with the numerous name changes the System i has undergone, there have been numerous enhancements. This is my cliched “journey” (blooargh!), the destination being to get to grips with the, as yet undiscoverd, magic of the System i.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re all nerdy programmer geniuses in my office. It’s just that we’re still using abacuses whereas all the other nerdy programmer geniuses are using ipads.

In addition to being a System i developer in my day job, I also run about a thousand websites. This means that the content I write on this website may meander into web related territories like .htaccess files, php, html, css and general website management topics.

But back to my day job. Upgrading our skills means addressing the following:

  • code editor – yes, we all still use SEU (along with 95% of the other RPG developers out there, apparently). To give you an idea of how long this editor has been around, I first used SEU in 1992. However, we have been informed that using RDI (Rational Developer for i) can increase our productivity by anywhere between 20% and 50%. The most conservative estimate of 20% equates to one day a week.
  • ILE concepts – this means introducing concepts like subprocedures and service programs.
  • Free format code – free format has been with us for yonks, but it’s so cosy and familiar to carry on using fixed format, where you can search for subroutine names in position 12 (or 18 if straight RPG and not RPGLE!). But free format means fewer lines of code and greater readability, so I’m on board.
  • Embedded SQL – urgh, complicated when you compare with very straightforward setll, reade, dow %eof. Not. We need to start thinking about result sets of data instead of record level access.
  • The Database – gone are the days of thinking about data as being housed in “files”. Now we must think about tables, views, indices and optimising the database.

That’s not a bad starter for 10.

Developing On The IBM i and Other Places