RPG / iSeries / Java / JSON / RDi / XML / ExtJS / SenchaTouch / Android

   Jun 21

Big Data IBM i mainstream trade rag ads

What a pleasant surprise…

IBM has recently release a NY Times print ad proclaiming the greatness of Big Data on their servers.  The kicker? IBM i was actually included in the list of servers!

You can see the ad in this PDF: http://bit.ly/11QNkcl

A digital equivalent ad will be appearing on these prominent mainstream tech sites: NYTImes.com, WIRED, Mashable.com, ZDNet, Slashdot.org, TechTarget, SourceForge.net, LinkedIn, TechCrunch, Toolbox.com, PCMag, Geek, and ExtremeTech

Great to see IBM i finally getting some good facetime this past year.  If you haven’t seen it you should also take a walk over to FaceBook to see the 25th anniversary celebration of IBM i.  I guess the community can no longer complain that IBM isn’t advertising IBMi, eh?

   Jun 14

In need of IBM i personnel? Here’s your chance

Jim Buck is making waves (again).  In the past Jim has given birth to many a RPG programmer from the courses loins** he teaches at Gateway Technical College in Wisconsin and written a number of books ranging on topics from RPG to CL to IBM i administration.  But if you had the chance to sit down with Jim you’ll find one of his true passions in life is helping people – and in the case of being a teacher of IBM i technology it’s to help people find jobs.

**ok, so giving birth from a course loin is probably not what you want to envision a guy doing, but sometimes you need to call on the unconventional to break up a sentence.

I was chatting on the phone with him this week and he read an email to me from a recently hired graduate… “Ya know, that’s what makes this all worth it when you get an email like that” were his words to me.  I agree – life is about community and helping one another.

I drink the juice too

A few years ago we hired one of Jim’s graduates (Adam Taylor) and have been very impressed and pleased at his ability to add value to KrengelTech.  It actually surprised me how much more graduates know about computers coming out of college compared to what I knew when released into the wild.  I think I was still wearing RPG diapers when I got my first job.

What’s this post about?

So I had a lot of preamble in this post in hopes of warming your heart (in case it was cold) and prep you for what is about to come…   You (the existing IBM i shop) need fresh IBM i blood*** to partner with existing staff to take your apps to the next level.  Colleges have smart/willing/able students graduating with IBM i programming/administration knowledge.  For some reason this need (for hires) doesn’t always make it’s way to the “fulfillment center” (the businesses) and that is what needs to be, and is being, addressed.

*** that’s right, IBM i’s can bleed, but it’s blood stays blue because it isn’t affected by external elements. (humor attempt part II)

If you are looking/needing/thinking about hiring more IBM i staff then please go and fill out this SIMPLE single-page survey right now.

There’s actually much more than that going on with Jim Buck right now (no, his mustache didn’t grow legs) and you can read more about that at Jon and Susan’s blog.  Please tell others about these blog posts and the survey!

So what says you?  Do you have need of fresh IBM i talent?  Comment below.

Aaron “udder balm sure can fix a raw nose” Bartell

   Mar 14

IBMi ISV Advisory Council Requirements Time!

Hey all,

Haven’t posted in a while.  Been really busy with some cool projects that I will expound upon later this year.

One of the roles I play in our community is being on the IBM i ISV Advisory Council which is a group that gets before GA info on the lastest and greatest stuff from IBM.  We also get to provide requirements to IBM on what we believe should be pursued for new or modified technology.

This post is to ask the community what you think we should be asking of IBM and I will do my best to convey those to IBM. The deadline I have to submit requirements to IBM is April 1st.

What is a requirement?  Something like this:

Requirement: Add sub procedure overloading to RPG

Why: It would make sub procedures more generic and useful without having to create many with similar names to allow for slight variations in parameters.

Example syntax: <insert example syntax>

Or maybe you are a hardware/OS person and you would like to see the process of spinning up a new LPAR more turn-key (it might already be, I don’t know because I’ve not done it).

Thanks community!

   Oct 30

Mel Beckman and forgiveness

If men sharing their inner feelings make you uncomfortable then stop reading now…

Many of you probably saw my tirade against Mel Beckman earlier this year when he wrote an article about RPG being dead.  I went ahead and publicly slandered his name left and right – even went as far as to demand he retire (and/or be fired from iProDeveloper).

In short, I played the part of a fool and did little to represent what I believe to be true in this life**.  I’ve been processing this for some time now and it is why I haven’t been blogging or writing much.  My tirade made me realize how much I was missing the mark by becoming so angry about technology that I’d publicly rip somebody to shreds.

So today I asked Mel to forgive me over the phone and without hesitation he forgave me for my horrible actions. I am humbled.  That in itself would have made my day, but then we chatted more only to find out that we share many interests (beliefs, musicians, he went to school in Mankato – where I currently live and grew up)!  How’s that for cool!

Mel, thanks for forgiving me.

Man, what a difference a phone call can make.  Is there somebody in your life you need to ask for forgiveness?  How long are you going to wait to act?  What have you got to lose?

**The teachings of Jesus – specifically, love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:31)

   Sep 03

Orati Systems has open source for you

A company that came onto my radar recently is Orati Systems based out of London.  They have released a number of tools as open source to the community and they are now available for download from their website.

Specifically they’ve produce tools that allow you to do accomplish SFTP (SSH + FTP, not FTP + SSL), FTP, create PDFs and create RTF files all from the IBMi.

Read their formal announcement letter here to get a better idea of what each tool does.

I haven’t yet used any of the tools for any projects so check them out and let us know what you think.


   Aug 31

Why IBMi – research effort

I am putting together a form of research initiative that aims to quantify *why* a non-IBMi tech person should consider or pursue IBMi.  I believe one of the best sources of this information can come from the community, so I’ve setup a GoogleDoc that can be edited by anybody (no Google signup required).
If you are interested in contributing then please head over to this link: http://bit.ly/OyCd3M
The results of this will be placed onto IBM’s IBMi wiki page for all to see and act as a place we can point people.
Here’s a tweet phrase if you are looking to share socially:
Why #IBMi? If you had to convince a #Ruby #PHP #Java dev to run their app on #IBMi what would you say? Comment here: bit.ly/OyCd3M

   May 31

RPG is dead to Mel Beckman – our call to action!

A couple weeks ago Mel Beckman (Senior Technical Editor at newly renamed iProDeveloper.com) made the declaration that RPG is officially dead in this article.  This has stirred up additional discussion on some other forums: iDeveloper and AngusTheItChap and OneinThei

The Executive Editor, Rita-Lyn Sanders, has issued a formal reply in the comments section that doesn’t recant the sentiment.

I was waiting for the executive team to respond before I took this to my blog because I had hoped they’d see the misstep, but they have not and instead are pacifying Mel’s statements and the situation.

For any RPG shop or tool vendor it is important to see the reality of what just took place.  Mel Beckman is a Senior Technical Editor of the magazine and this was NOT an opinion piece.  They effectively just eliminated their ally status and are actively/partially working against us (the RPG community).  What good RPG material could we ever expect from Mel at this point now that we know he is not only misinformed** but also against RPG on IBM i?

This blog post is meant to stir the RPG community to action and comment either here, on iProDeveloper.com, on AngusTheITChap, on IBMSystemsMag.com or other; to let iProDeveloper know that we aren’t in agreement with this misinformed journalism sensationalism.

I am not naive to think that RPG isn’t on a decline, but that isn’t because the language isn’t able to do modern things (I hope my many articles have proven otherwise).  It is instead because the next generation (the ones with the ideas and the time to make more of RPG) don’t have easy and low cost access to IBM i.  IBM and IBM i hosting vendors are incrementally working to address that issue.

** Mel proclaims C, C++, C#, Python, Perl, Javascript and Ruby are all viable alternatives that run natively on IBM i when really only PHP and Java are viable options from his list of nine languages.

Again, please let your voice be heard.  We are at a junction.


   May 08

Profound UI – what IBM should have done with EGL

Profound Logic has a press release in a recent ITJungle article that touts their latest feature set of having a platform independent UI layer.

Why did this catch my eye?

Well, because this is EXACTLY what IBM should have done when they were going down the EGL route.  What did IBM do?  They tried to convince shops that have millions invested in languages like RPG that they should just start migrating that entire infrastructure to be controlled by EGL.  IBM wanted to start supporting a single business language across all its platforms (essentially making it easy for them, but hard for those who’ve already adopted one of their other business languages).  The problem with that approach? I DON’T HAVE ISSUE WITH RPG, I HAVE ISSUE WITH MY USER INTERFACE – they are not one in the same and I won’t throw the baby out just because the bath water is dirty. Why not just change the portion of my programming stack that I have issue with.  Why not just change the portion of my programming stack that can’t run natively on IBM i anyways (i.e. talking specifically how the browser runs many UI’s now and in the future).

What’s interesting about Profound’s new features is a shop that has .NET/Java/RPG/PHP/etc can all use a single front-end HTML/CSS/Javascript layer for designing screens without each one of those platforms having to ditch the server side language that works best for the OS they are running on.

I have to give some serious kudos to Profound for this one.  I think it is right on the money.  And by storing the screen definition in a non-proprietary very open standard format (JSON) they are ready for change when the next popular UI technology comes down the pipe (maybe from Google?).

I am curious as to whether they will release an express version of this suite so their presence in other servers can grow  more quickly  – a lot of non-IBM i UI frameworks offer a “free drink” of their tooling (with restrictions) and then use that as a loss leader to get you on a full subscription.

On final note, this approach of having the UI layer agnostic of the server side and stores a formal definition decoupled from the UI technology needs a name.  How about “4GL for UI”  or maybe “4GLUI”.  When you sound that out it kinda sounds catchy – four glu-ee :-)  Ok, I obviously need more coffee.


   May 07

TEMBO and DB2 modernization

I’ve been following an interesting development the past couple months and now it has been made public (at COMMON) so I thought I’d make sure everyone knew about it.  The product is “AO Foundation” (AO = Adsero Optima) and is meant to aid in modernizing your DB to be built on SQL.  I haven’t yet had a chance to use the product but it looks very intriguing.  Below is the official press release from TEMBO Technology Lab:

TEMBO Technology Lab (Pty) Ltd is honored to announce the availability of their AO Foundation product that facilitates upgrading and migrating all ISAM (record level access – DDS) databases to the native SQE (SQL) engine without the use of surrogates, any LVLID changes or any recompilation of programs.

Anaheim, California –(May 6, 2012)– TEMBO Technology Lab, a specialist applications modernization technology development house in the IBM i platform space, today announced the availability of AO Foundation, a product that facilitates and automates the migration of all legacy (ISAM or DDS) databases to the latest DDL (SQL/SQE) implementation of DB2 on IBM i.

SQL (DDL) the foundation of all modernization

Should the IBM modernization roadmap and all the announcements since approximately 2000 be closely analyzed, it is clear that the SQL database engine is a fundamental consideration for modernization. Until this announcement, migrating to the SQL engine has been either labor intensive, or at least problematic. This is caused by either the use of surrogates, or the requirement to recompile your programs.

The requirement to truly modernize our rich heritage (the so-called “legacy” which made companies hugely successful), demands that users migrate to the SQL engine, to truly leverage the applications and the platform, and to use the SQL engine as foundation for all modernization.

For a short Videoclip, detailing the roadmap, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7u-2MxU8F0

The benefits from following this modernization roadmap:

Immediate, low risk, non-disruptive exploitation of the native SQL database engine.

* Solid foundation for future modernization projects.

* Your database now presents itself as modern to the outside world and your end users.

* AO Foundation removes the tedium and error-prone repetition out of upgrading to the SQL (SQE) engine, allowing you to focus on value adding aspects of application modernization.

* No “vendor lock-in” – we deliver your database back completely under your control.

* No LVLID changes during Phase 1 (initial DDS to DDL migration) of database upgrade process, hence no recompilation of ANY code.

* Massive potential performance benefits


* FULL, native IBM i based management of your ISAM and SQL database(s) on DB2 for i.

* Gradual, non-disruptive, low-risk roadmap

* Unshackled applications, unlocking the full value of your IT investments

* Gradual sanitizing of metadata, structural metadata and database

* Multi-Tier architecture

Visit Adsero Optima: www.adsero-optima.com

Soli Deo Gloria!

   May 01

Secure my i for internet

I am getting involved in a lot more mobile and web development projects on IBM i with RPG as of late.  One of the things that most ALWAYS comes up is security.  It is a big jump for an IT shop that has never exposed their IBM i on the internet to switch gears and believe it is a safe thing to do.

Putting something on the internet is NEVER 100% safe.  Too many people out there thinking it’s “fun” to wreck your company (though I must say that some companies had it coming when Anonymous let loose on them).  Ok, now that we’ve established the reality that the internet is NOT safe we can move forward :-)

This post is meant to collect resources for those wanting to learn more about securing their IBM i to be on the internet.

For starters I will list a couple links:

System i Internet Security: http://ibm.co/IT2xmu


IBM i Security Administration and Compliance: http://amzn.to/InmGE2

Please continue to add to the list…