October 8, 2018 Alex Woodie
Application addition is a big nut to able on IBM i. That is to say, there are abounding means to accouterment the problem, from the cipher and business argumentation to the databases and user interfaces. But back it comes to the blazon of developers you should attending for and how they should absorb their time, Kody Robinson has a few pointers that may be account befitting in mind.
Robinson was a affiliate of the aboriginal accumulation of “Fresh Faces” that IBM put advanced in 2017 to advertise the actuality that adolescent bodies are architectonics careers on the platform, and that it’s not composed wholly of association in their 50s. That aforementioned year, Robinson was called an IBM Champion, rounding out an absorbing year for Robinson.
At aloof 25 years of age, Robinson doesn’t accept the all-embracing ability of the belvedere that a career IBM i able can accompany to his job. But that about addition additionally works the added way and gives Robinson a bloom of angle on what actually affairs to companies that await on the IBM i server and the bodies who accomplish it run. And it’s fun to watch a new bearing re-discover the time-tested advantages the IBM i belvedere brings.
For starters, it’s auspicious to apprehend that today’s adolescence can acknowledge acceptable belvedere architecture. “I adulation it. It’s secure. It’s as avant-garde as you appetite it to be,” Robinson said during an account with IT Jungle at the POWERUp appointment in Texas this able May. “Anybody who says it’s old or anachronous is apathetic and uninformed. I assumption that’s the nice way to put it.”
Robinson was assassin appropriate out of academy three years ago by Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp, a broad provider of electricity to 17 associates that awning added than 60 percent of the state. The address anon set him out to apprentice RPG, which the University of Arkansas at Monticello didn’t advise him.
Now, not everybody is cut out to be an IBM i developer, let abandoned assignment in RPG, which continues to bead in popularity, according to the TIOBE Index. Together with COBOL – addition mainframe business accent that abounding adolescence spell B-O-R-I-N-G – RPG is one of the aftermost languages that a active developer would accept to learn, if accustomed their druthers.
But Robinson had a arch alpha on the business process, acknowledgment in allotment to his computer science affairs at college. Instead of giving him high-level access for four years, like abounding computer science majors do, the UofA appropriate him to booty accounting, business, and statistics classes. In added words, Robinson was apparent to the applied ability that characterizes abounding RPG analyst/programmers in the absolute world, so he was already advanced of the game.
Robinson has a different role at AECC, which has been appliance the IBM midrange server for about four decades and is in the action of modernizing its acquaintance RPG applications. Specifically, he was brought in to serve as arch amid the earlier cipher and coders and the new crop of cipher and coders that will ascertain the IBM i platform’s aing 40 years at AECE.
“I was assassin in to apprentice RPG, to apprentice the old green-screen stuff, to advice these added able developers that are activity to retire in the aing bristles to 10 years, and improve as I go, affectionate of about-face the accepted cerebration to added avant-garde and RPG free, Web, etc.” Robinson says.
AECE has bags of RPG applications, accounting in a admixture of RPG III and RPG IV. As Robinson comes beyond an earlier app during the circadian advance of business, he’ll accessible it up in his Rational Developer for IBM i (RDi) cipher editor, run it through an ARCAD Software cipher advocate to alteration it to chargeless anatomy RPG IV, and possibly accomplish a PHP-based interface for it appliance Fresche Solutions‘ WebSmart. Robinson has adapted upwards of 400 programs in the aftermost few years appliance this approach.
The ambition is to alpha AECC on the aisle to modernization, if not complete it. “The ambition isn’t to alone advice me arch this acquirements curve, but to advice anybody we appoint advancing in afterwards me, not to accept them booty years to apprentice this old RPG cipher that they’re not activity to use,” Robinson says. “They’re activity to apprentice the free-form RPG. It’s a admixture of modernization, and allowance any new being who comes in abaft me kick-start their acquirements action and be as admired to the aggregation as possible, aural the beeline bulk of time.”
Robinson abstruse bound that not every affairs needs to action a modern-looking GUI. “Our accounting and warehousing people, they adulation the blooming screen,” he says. “They accept that 10-key memorized, one-four-six, out the door, on the truck, and get it quick.”
But at the aforementioned time, some AECC workers accept taken to avant-garde PHP apps abundant added agreeably than Robinson would accept thought. “Most bodies don’t like change, so back we accord them this nice new appealing Web front-end, I ample they’d say no, I appetite the blooming screen, it’s what I’m acclimated to,” he says. “But I haven’t had any of that so far. So they’ve been appealing able to change and like the way it looks.”
The addition action isn’t complete at AECC. Having bags of applications will do that to you. But the address has still begin success in its approach, in Robinson methodical access to accepted improvement. In fact, AECC won an IBM Innovation Award at the COMMON appointment in New Orleans two years ago for the assignment it’s done with its applications.
Along the way, Robinson has abstruse a few lessons. One is that acquirements fixed-format RPG is a decay of time, abnormally back acceptable cipher converters can be had for aloof a brace thousand dollars. While the syntaxes are identical amid free-format and fixed-format RPG, the presentation makes all the aberration in the world.
But alive free-format RPG – now, that can be a acceptable for job security, alike for adolescent folks. “RPG pays appealing good, because it’s a barter that not a lot of bodies know,” he says. “If you apperceive Java, you’re activity to compete, abnormally in a bigger city, with 200 or 300 bodies for that job. You’ll apparently be aggressive with bristles to ten bodies for an RPG position, and apparently seven times out of ten those earlier bodies are added experienced, up in their 40s and 50s.”
Younger developers who apperceive RPG should accede their about adolescence to be an advantage, he says. “My claimed assessment is they appetite to appoint somebody adolescent so they can cast them to affairs the way they appetite to, and get 30 to 40 year out of them,” he says, “versus hiring somebody who’s added able and may has a little bit added ability of RPG but is activity to leave the aggregation in bristles to 10 years and retire.”
Robinson says the readability of free-form RPG and the ability of the IBM i present a almighty aggregate for productivity.
“It’s appealing aboveboard and you feel able rolling out an appliance that you apperceive your barter will love, and it’s appealing accessible to change the cipher if they say, ‘Hey I appetite to add on these new features,’” he says. “On any added affectionate of platform, Windows or Linux or any added business – argumentation code, there’s a lot added captious being that’s added time-consuming. If you get into time-consuming stuff, you don’t accept as abundant time to affairs and serve your barter the way they deserve to be served.”
Simplicity – in development and administering – has consistently been a authentication of the IBM i platform, but it’s a affection that seems to get overshadowed by some of the challenges of active this system, like the old code, backward coders, and the alarming “legacy” label.
So it’s auspicious to apprehend somebody like Robinson, who has his accomplished career in advanced of him, to admit these advantages, to position himself to advantage them, to internalize them the way that tens of bags of AS/400, iSeries, Arrangement i, and IBM i developers accept done before, and to allotment those thoughts with the world.
“The able three years I’ve developed to adulation the IBM i platform,” Robinson says. “It’s what I appetite my career to be based on. I’m appetent of the earlier developers who accept had their 30 years on the platform. I haven’t had one being who said they weren’t aloof actually in adulation and appreciative they had their 30 or 40 years on this platform. That’s what I appetite to accomplish my appulse on the apple on the IBM i.”
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