Angus: EGL is nirvana?

A friend recently told me that after Kurt Cobain found Nirvana, it was all over. Since we are being told by IBM that EGL is nirvana, many of us expect it to be all over very soon.

And now there is an “IBM i Modernization Summit” that purports to be “a workshop sponsored by IBM Rational directed to leading professional software development organizations and designed to help us understand and validate how our solutions can truly help these organizations achieve their goals”.

Everything we hear in the IBM i industry from the Rational EGL proponents is that EGL is the answer to all our woes. In fact, we often hear that RPG is dead, and EGL is the answer, then we hear Rational deny that this was spoken. We see EGL being sold as Java, then hear denials of that sales pitch. Overall, EGL is being sold like snake oil, and that does not feel right in any way.

I spoke with an EGL customer the other day, and their observations were that EGL is not delivering the way that Rational promised. An expectation of being hidden from the core languages was dashed – they have found that EGL requires serious Java skills. The additional layers of infrastructure required by an EGL implementation have caused major pain when it comes to debugging and testing the ‘new’ applications. The lack of integration tools to the back-end applications on IBM i have caused major rework of the back-end modules, increasing the length of development time beyond a reasonable web-based application development cycle. Overall, the customer feels that Rational has sold them a bill of goods and has not delivered.

Another confusion is the approach that all IBM i customers should convert to EGL means that RPG needs to be converted to EGL, which then generates code in COBOL and Java. I cannot imagine that to be a sound investment for any modernization approach. Of course, the confusion is higher for IBM i COBOL companies who are being told to convert to EGL, which generates COBOL… WHAT?

Along with the suspicious snake-oil approach, the fact that in five years or so of the language there are only 36 success stories, and the requirement to convert your languages back to themselves, the confusion about EGL grows.

IBM tells us that RPG is supported for the long term. The IBMers who tell us that are believable, trustworthy and their experience and background with IBM i leads us to believe they are genuine. Then Rational – an IBM company – tells us we should abandon RPG. It is time for IBM to establish a unified approach – one that is reasonable, supportive of the IBM i community, and does not require us to pay through the nose for a new and improved Rational developer toolset.

Get to it….

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