Angus: Mentally deficient, old, stubborn, or …?? Discuss!

Here is a question for you. Why did you get into technology? Was it cool? Was it intriguing? Did it offer new things on a regular basis? Was it challenging to build new and better things every day? Maybe you had other reasons. However, I don’t know of anyone who got into I.T. expecting to be maintenance programmers. I don’t know anyone who decided programming was simply a means to the end of retirement. We got into I.T. for the simple reason that it was interesting.

Over the last 30(something) years, our platform has evolved from a System/38 to the most amazing operating system – IBM i, running on the world’s best business hardware – Power Systems. Had IBM released the Power Systems 20 years ago, we – yes, all of us, including YOU – would have embraced this platform with fervor.

But somehow, things have ground to a halt. We sit around talking about the good old days, how things used to be better. We reminisce about what we ~used~ to do. We seem to have lost the plot. I am concerned about all of us – we have become old, stubborn and stuck in our ways, with little to no chance of anything exciting happening in our world on any given day.

You know what makes me say that. EVERY conversation I have in this community contains something ridiculous about the platform. Either a conversation includes a bunch of references to the old and outdated platforms, or an old name is used for the current platform as a matter of course. And, when I ask, prod, nudge, cajole or plead for the speaker/writer of the outdated references to remember that IBM gave us Power Systems in 2008 (yep, FOUR years ago – a LIFETIME in I.T.), I get pushback.

In fact, I get excuses. Tons of excuses. Waaah, waaah, waaahmbulance. IBM did this. IBM didn’t do this. The name changes.. Bad name. Wrong marketing. Not what ~I~ want. Waaah, waaah, waaah. EVERY time. Excuses. Nothing else, just excuses. Not a single person has given me a valid reason to reference the platform by an OLD name – not once. Why? Because there are none. There are plenty of excuses, but not a single reason.

As I get horrible pushback, insults and complaints, I wonder why it is like this. And I can only suppose one of three things. One, for some reason, coding RPG or working in the midrange world has made us mentally deficient. Yet, most of us appear to still have our faculties. That leads me to… Two, we are old, stubborn, and out of date. We lost the plot. We lost the passion. We live in a world where it is comfortable, and we simply don’t want to budge. We cannot change, and nothing we can do will make us change.

I think that is the reason, but that saddens me. Because the only other possibility is that we are afraid. Consider this – if someone calls you out for referring to IBM i on Power as an AS/400, and you don’t say “oh yeah, that was the grandfather to IBM i”, then you will probably pull out one of the 6,749 lame excuses and use it to justify your own stubbornness and fear.

So, am I right? Or, are you a flexible modern I.T. developer who works on AS/400s? Nah, can’t be. There ARE NO EXCUSES. The platform has moved on. Why can’t you?


Bryan Douglas-HenryMarch 9th, 2012 at 10:36 am

After 21 years of coding and building integrated IT systems on the IBM i with the methods I learned in 1991, with a bit of ‘on the job training’; I have finally taken a giant leap forward to understand what IBM has REALLY given us with the Power 7 servers, modern user interfaces, the BEST transaction processing platform and database on the PLANET!, simple management, low cost of ownership – I can go on and on and on…
I am excited about the present!
I am seriously excited about the future!
And by embracing the technology I “grew up with” and has “grown up without me”, I am in awe about the possibilities these new (some 10-year old) techniques can bring us.

jacobusMarch 9th, 2012 at 1:21 pm

I am a flexible and modern developer, which still calls it “the AS/400”.

First, i don’t really think it matters much if i call it “IBM i” (i get strange looks).
Second, it’s out of habbit.

Third, working with the system still has the same look and feel as the “old” AS/400. Yes you can do a lot more with it than in the 90’s. But even if you create a modern application, with a web interface, it’s still an as/400 as i’m used to it for the last 20 years. You still work with the goodies that set this platform apart from the others, the “look and feel”. As a developer i prefer to interact with a command line interface. This still is the “green screen”. Fundamental concepts, like subsystems, jobs, messagefiles, jobqueues, joblogs, etc, it’s still the same as 20 years ago, and that is a good thing.

angustheitchapMarch 9th, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Jacobus, THREE excuses?? Thanks for proving my point…

Jean MikhaleffApril 4th, 2012 at 1:44 pm

ONe day a client of mine showed me two screens and asked me:
-) one of them is RPGIII the other RPG ILE free form.
Do you see any difference? My users don’t.
Do you see the problem?

angustheitchapApril 4th, 2012 at 6:46 pm


There are some fairly significant issues with this approach.

First, regardless of the coding language, if your user interface is still out of date, then you have a problem.
Second, if you think the user should ever care about which language the program is written in, then you have a problem.
Third, if you haven’t educated the customer in how to build modern applications, then it makes no difference in how the code is written.

The problem here is with (a) the programmer, and (b) the consultant.

Jean MikhaleffApril 4th, 2012 at 10:24 pm

I understand you loudly and clearly.
However, about the first point, is my user interface is still out of date supposes I need to modernize it because native interfaces are not modern. You don’t have to modernize Microsoft intefaces for example. This is a question of the life cycle of the i operating system. When a decision maker wants to invest in new applications, this is the first point he looks after.
If you don’t have the first point, it is very difficult to educate customers, because ISVs are paid by the endusers and not you or me. However, I agree with you, this is not impossible. I just say, you spend a lot of time to modernize instead of writting new applications.

angustheitchapApril 4th, 2012 at 11:57 pm


If you continue to spread the myth that IBM i “native” interfaces are not modern, then you are spreading FUD.

And, given that you do ~not~ have to spend much time at all “modernizing” – in fact, refacing is the quickest means of getting a modern user interface. Just because you have not seen one, or because you may have seen some crappy ones, or because someone is slamming “screen scrapers” does not mean it is expensive to modernize. Again, this advice is FUD.

The first truth is, IBM i has more than one native GUI interface, and many third party companies have a GUI that is ~native~ – and have had for MANY years. The second truth is that modernization is more often cheaper, and faster, than rewriting. As a business, a modernization project should be strategic, have more than one phase, and should be able to build a modern interface in a short time. The third truth is, that spreading the FUD about “native GUI” and “modernization” simply helps the platform detractors.


Jean MikhaleffApril 5th, 2012 at 2:27 am

“The third truth is, that spreading the FUD about “native GUI” and “modernization” simply helps the platform detractors.” ok. This time I agree with you.

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