I have started to read more of Timothy Pricket Morgan’s (from here on out written as Tim) articles and am liking how he approaches the usefulness of the iSeries. What I mean by that is he realizes that some significant ground could be made in the RPG programming realm if the higher up stiff necks at IBM would come to realize the goldmine of potential they have with the RPG programming language. Read the following post of mine on the web400 archives to see where I am coming from.

I am going to take a little risk here and state NONE of the higher ups making final decisions for not giving RPG due recognition for viable future development have written much RPG code at all (or maybe better stated, they haven’t done so in the last 10 years which seems to be the period of RPG’s evolution), so it is hard to say that they have the right perception of RPG to make the decisions they are making – to say it bluntly they have second hand information that is mixed with much hype of other promising languages. I am surprised that they take the stance they do based on what I hear coming from George Farr who is making some great (and fairly vague) statements about possible new framework level changes coming in RPG.

For the record I will say that about 50% of my development is done in Java (mostly J2EE, but also a lot of J2ME and J2SE) and I feel I can make appropriate high level opinions to state that if IBM spent 1/10th the time on RPG enhancements and tooling as they do with Java that RPG could be the next big thing that bring people to IBM iSeries hardware. Note that I specifically said iSeries hardware. I don’t believe that making a language like RPG platform independent brings a lot of glory other than from geeks like myself. Want proof in the pudding? Take a look at C#.NET. It is grown to the same industry acceptance as Java in about 3 or 4 years, and it took Java 10+ years. By keeping the C#.NET focus directed towards Windows machines Microsoft is afforded the same niceties we have by keeping RPG only on the iSeries. (Note: I am talking mainstays. Yes I know about the .NET Mono project, and yes I know about RPG being able to run on select IBM mainframes).

Here is Tim’s comments that invigorated me to write on the topic. Keep up the good work Tim and let us know if your voice is heard.

Every saga needs a hero, of course, and IBM could, in fact, be that hero if it thought a little outside of the box. (To be fair, by backing down on this compiler issue, IBM is being the hero.) For years, IBM has been trying to use positive reinforcement (RPG IV has great new features), and negative reinforcement (we are killing the old compilers), to get people to try to get companies to move ahead. There might be a better way to get people to move. For instance, what if IBM actually offered really good porting tools and services at a reasonable price to help customers make the jump? It could work with third parties to do this, of course. And what if IBM gave customers goodies if they made the jump. Say, a free six months on a lease of a new System i5? Free Web-enablement for the first 25 or 50 screens? If IBM wants customers to all be on RPG IV, it has to give them a compelling reason to do it. What if someone with some clout–someone like Bill Zeitler, who runs the Systems and Technology Group, or Sam Palmisano, chairman and CEO at IBM–actually said in a Webcast or a presentation that RPG and COBOL have a future, that these are perfectly reasonable alternatives to Java and C#, and made the case why companies should continue to code in RPG or COBOL instead of other languages?

Timothy Pricket Morgan IT Jungle June 26, 2006
[tags]iSeries, RPG, Mono, IBM, Java[/tags]

About Aaron Bartell:
Aaron Bartell is a Java and RPG programmer for www.krengeltech.com specializing in modernizing RPG applications for web service interoperability. Aaron can be reached at aaron@krengeltech.com or visit his home page at http://mowyourlawn.com. Aaron is also lead developer for the RPG-XML Suite which can be found at http://rpg-xml.com.