IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems - May 2017 - FF5
Rabbani's first job out of college
was working for BCD Software in
Canada. She had never heard of
IBM i or RPG before accepting the
position but found she could use
web languages on the platform and
could also run RPG/CGI programs.
Rabbani was impressed by the
platform's SQL functionality, which
"makes for a simple, fast web program," she says.
Rabbani, now a senior web
developer working with Alan Seiden at Seiden Group, appreciates
IBM i's stability and reliability
because the system can handle
tons of data flowing through her
PHP applications. "We don't get
calls from clients at midnight that
their box is down," she notes.
"IBM i has really served my clients
well over the years."
The value of IBM i lies in the fact
that the platform constantly evolves
to meet developers' needs whether it is mobile applications, open
source or ILE languages.
Mobile is one trend that affects
AECC and the broader business
community. "One of the main
trends right now, at least in my
eyes, is to be able to give our internal customers access to applications on their phone," Robinson
says. That involves adding modern
web applications that leverage
modern resources. He's pleased
to see that the IBM i community is
focused on making new web-based
applications with IBM i on the back
end. "Young professionals love the
comprehensive web-based apps,
and that's what I want to do for my
internal clients," Robinson says.
While web applications are Robinson's latest challenge, his first
hurdle was modernizing AECC's
legacy RPG applications. While
Robinson didn't know RPG when
he joined the utility, he took on
the challenge of determining the
best way to leverage and update
the existing programs.
Working with three experienced
RPG coders on the IT team,
Robinson used free-format RPG,
Rational* Developer for i and PHP
to modernize the applications.
ARCAD-Transformer RPG from
Arcad Software was used to convert
the legacy applications into freeform RPG. Robinson, along with
the leadership of his director, also
introduced PHP to the company's
mix and helped transition from
DDS to DDL.
The project gave Robinson the
opportunity to understand how
free-form RPG works. He'd watch
the ARCAD program doing its
conversion. He also spent time
researching and reading about
The utility's move to free-form
RPG cut development time in half,
saving time and money. It also
provides agility in meeting current
and future demands. Thanks to the
work done by Robinson and the IT
team, Robinson won the COMMONIBM Power Systems Innovation
Award in 2016.
Allan sees open source as a way to bring the
tightly knit IBM i community even closer. In 2016
he was named the COMMON Student Innovation
Award winner for creating a virtual machine and
programming language that runs in ILE.
IBM's embrace of open source helps to bring
younger programmers to the IBM i platform. "Personally, I am happy to see more and more open
source coming on and off the platform," he says. "I
love that we have more ILE projects and repositories
appearing on the web."
Allan has turned his attention to porting the Lua
programming language to ILE as well as writing a
DB2* module enabling it to access the database.
As well as a DB2 module, he is developing another
module to work with more system APIs for things
like objects, data areas and data queues. He has
written an ILE package manager and build tool
in RPG for ILE projects. Another project involves
a plugin that allows developers to work with ILE
languages from within the free source-code editor
Notepad++, allowing you to edit, compile and see
errors from compiles on IBM i. Allan is also planning more features.
Further, Allan plans to port a project called
JerryScript over to IBM i to run in the ILE environment.
There is no reason it can't run in ILE, he says.
Node.js, an open-source environment, is gaining
more IBM i users. In his spare time, Allan develops
"NOW I KNOW THAT ANYTHING ANY OTHER
PLATFORM CAN DO, THE IBM i CAN DO IT BETTER."
-Kody Robinson, business and financial systems developer,
Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp.
Open source is another industry
trend affecting programmers and
IBM i. Sharing code and ideas
improves the quality of programming, says Rabbani. In addition
to PHP, IBM's decision to add
open-source code like Python and
Ruby to IBM i expands many more
capabilities, she notes.
Open source continues to be one
of Allan's passions. He likes the
collaborative aspect of it and often
contributes his code to the community. Websites like GitHub, Bitbucket and GitLab allow others to see
code, make changes and upload the
revamped code so he can see what
changes other developers make.
open-source code that runs on IBM i or runs for IBM i.
He and IBMer Jesse Gorzinski, business architect,
open source on IBM I, are responsible for maintaining
the OSSILE repository on GitHub where programmers
can submit snippets or full projects written in any ILE
language for others to use.
Allan wants to dispel the idea that open source prevents companies from capitalizing on such projects. He
believes that once companies know how to use open
source properly, they'll be able to discern how they can
monetize it, thus creating opportunity.
IBM i has been an evolving platform and continues
to be a platform of choice for many new developers.
"IBM is one of the most innovative companies in the
industry and they are putting their clients' needs
first," said Robinson.
FRESH FACES MAY 2017 5