Angus: “Shinning (sic) a light” against the future of RPG?
Rational Open Access for RPG (RPGOA) has certainly become the buzz of our industry. I have discovered that when there is this amount of excitement and noise on any subject, positive or negative, the topic is always a game-changer. RPGOA is definitely that.
This morning, I discovered in my inbox, an article from IT Jungle titled RPG Open Access Is No Panacea, Say BCD and LANSA. I truly appreciate IT Jungle’s efforts at reporting all the opinions relating to RPG OA, and enjoyed reading the article. However, it seems this is going to be wonderful press for RPGOA, and not so wonderful press for BCD and LANSA.
From an IBM perspective, RPG has now an ability to converse with any user interface you choose, extending RPG far beyond the traditional 5250 green screen interface. This is an investment by IBM in the future of RPG. From the vendors writing handlers, this is “..great news for the large proportion of the IBM i Community who want to continue using RPG for the long term” and “..perhaps one of the most important IBM i-related announcements in the last decade”. Other vendors are lining up to provide handlers utilizing RPG OA, and I expect soon enough, we will see open source handlers available.
Some comments from the RPG400-L forum are: “It looks exciting – I hope I get the opportunity to use this new technology”, “I hope to get to use something like this”, “It all looks quite impressive.” Some of the concerned citizens of our community expect that with IBM charging for the RPG OA runtime, adoption will not happen – although that seems not to have dampened any enthusiasm for the product.
From a BCD and LANSA perspective, “both declined to develop products using this technology”. From the article, I read: “they both believe their technologies and methodologies are superior to the ROA path.”. That certainly sounds like they would prefer you to use their technologies and not use RPG for IBM i application development. Does this mean that they are against the future of RPG – in this case, RPG OA?
I enjoyed reading the justifications for not using RPG OA that was quoted in the article. Let’s review…
“You have to rewrite all your code to make it stateless.” This is true, but it is definitely possible to write handlers that provide stateful conversations.
“ROA cannot be applied to existing programs without having to modify them” Again, true. But this is not a change in the business logic, just a simple change of where the display I/O is pointed. Not difficult.
“depend on both a new interface from IBM and a third-party ‘handler.'”Er, yes, this is a fact. Why is it a problem? So far, IBM and third-parties working together have produced some great ideas, and the creativity of both organizations has improved many of IBM’s tools, languages and products. I would not be surprised if BCD and LANSA have worked ~with~ IBM in the past on their own tools.
“This code-invasive approach means that you have to either write a program completely from scratch, or inject pieces of new code into existing code to make it work.”Yes! And as coders DO write new programs, they will take advantage of RPG OA for a user interface of their choice – this IS the point of the exercise. Existing programs, once again, will require change. Talking about this as a showstopper is just a marketing tool. Real world RPG programmers can handle this amount of change. “Code-invasive” is a marketing term with many implications, and while it applies here, it sounds far scarier than the reality of RPG OA.
“So the notion that you can plug a single command and have everything work differently is ridiculous.” No one has notioned that in any of the press I have read. This is another marketing tool.
BCD said: “We had the full take on this, on what it did, how it did it, and what the objectives were. We are both progressive companies. If we saw an opportunity here, we’d be all over it.” But, hang on, also I read this from LANSA:“If you need large sets of data, you do it from the database. You don’t write a program.” Whoa nelly! If you need large sets of data, you can embed SQL inside RPG. And with RPG OA, you are not limited to displaying only those records that will fit on a 24×80 screen. It would appear this opportunity has been missed by a mile.
Certainly, this is a competitive industry. BCD and LANSA compete directly with the vendors who support RPG OA – looksoftware and Profound Logic. It seems like this press conference was a justification of why BCD and LANSA don’t want you to code in RPG, rather than offering any valid reasons for not adopting RPG OA.
The article sets them apart from the industry, with this phrase: “with a flood of information on ROA coming from IBM and the vendors making use of it, this is a good time to hear what the other side has to say”. BCD and LANSA have now been clearly identified as “the other side”. Their products are staples in many IBM i shops, and produce modern applications for their customers. I have often supported them when choosing the “right tool for the right job”, and will continue to do so when appropriate. Yet, they have shown their colors, and it seems like they are against the future of RPG. Could this be true? I think they are going to be doing a lot more justifying.