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IBM i

IBM i (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been to just one of Trevor’s presentations, and he is an entertaining speaker. Users and developers that use the IBM i generally know who he is.

Some in the audience actually did have a real “AS/400“, at that time, and had not yet moved to the current offering from IBM, the “IBM i on Power”, from before, and he said, “Well, yeah, you do have an AS/400″.

I can understand how he might be considered “caustic” in his conversations, and call it my opinion if you want, but he is right.

It’s not the same machine it used to be. People have the green screen idea when they think of our succession of machines. Maybe they’ll be calling it “IBM Next” after 7.0 but we’ll see.

They called it “Mac”, “Windows“, but when they do, the brand is not held back by those names. People regard it as a general brand. None of us has any problem at all calling an automobile by the name the manufacturer gives it. But the Rambler is dead. The Edsel is not coming back.

One well-known creator of a very much-used language, whose name slips my mind, gave a talk about branding at a conference, and gave a few examples.

Once upon a time, there was a phone company that accumulated one of the worst reputations for quality, overhauled it to get one of the best, but the consumer brand was irreparably damaged. So, they changed their name to Verizon.

Has anybody here ever used IBM Visual Age for Java? Or ever hear of it? How about Eclipse?

That’s branding.

The other day I went to a Java Users Group. Despite the fact that the IBM i can run all the java you ever want, PHP, Python, web servers, XML, and almost anything you can run on Unix, about half a dozen good GUI‘s, you can run just about any popular file system, including the one for Unix, the one for Windows, for the i.

I’ve heard there are knockout applications running web sites, few viruses can do it damage, there’s nothing ancient about the latest offerings for IBM i on Power.

They had never heard of the IBM i. So I explained that it was the modern replacement for the old AS/400. They immediately stopped listening and did the same thing when they heard “RPG“, and didn’t even seem to hear that RPG can do all this great stuff and is getting updated faster than any other standard language.

From now on I’m not even going to mention the AS/400, I’ll just talk about the IBM i.

RPG needs a re-branding too. IPG or i2100, or something.

 

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English: Python logo Deutsch: Python Logo

English: Python logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mel Beckman has written an article that repeats a theme I’ve seen since the days when I first started writing code in the first widely used version of RPG in the 1970’s. There’s always a variant of RPG is dead, RPG is dying, RPG is fading away, and all that. But I always pay attention, because all things change in this world below on here on Earth. It seems like the main reason he says this is that, according to him, not much new code is being written in the newest version of RPG-IV and that most of the time spent doing RPG is on maintaining existing RPG code, as in fixes, enhancements, and the like.

Find it here: http://www.iprodeveloper.com/article/opinion/is-rpg-dead-699217?cpage=6#commentsAnchor

I’m glad iprodeveloper opens it articles up for comments. For web sites that open up for comments so readers can offer their reactions, I’m finding these days that the comment section gets at least as interesting as the article itself. Actually, the article plus the comments generally make good reading.

For example, Mel Beckman listed a lot of other languages as newer and more promising for writing new code. He gives examples he calls “more-modern” languages: “More-modern languages such as C (including C++ and C#), Java, JavaScript, Perl, PHP, Python, and Ruby (all of which run natively on IBM i)”.

Aaron Bartell pointed out that for a some of these you have to have multi-layered implementations to make them work, with the extra load of maintaining and configuring each layer. Someone else pointed out that training current staff (the ones that know your business) in new languages is not cheap either.

I’ll add my own observation that each layer of technology -hardware, third-party software, external servers and applications, and so on– comes a multiplier in maintenance load.

Jon Paris added his observation that for one of his recent classes he was teaching the newest RPG, RPG-IV, to programmers that code in C, C++, Java, and others. He also added that the Java programmers are delighted with the ease of performing some functions in RPG.

Well, one more thing. The current generation and latest versions of RPG, RPGLE or RPGIV, have incorporated great advances that utilize, or enable the use of new techniques and possibilities. And while it does not have object-oriented syntax, with the intelligent use of subprocedures and service programs, it does enable advantages that are generally associated with OO programming.

Here’s an alert to utility software providers: there just might be a market for a precompiler that does OO things, that for example expands an embedded OO syntax into RPG code for compiling, similar to how the 4GL’s are said to work.

There are some programmers where I work who do new coding in COBOL, too.. Nothing wrong with that for the purpose, depending. But more on that later, and on refactoring code in a future article.

 

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