View Full Version : RPG Programmers, The Cycle, and Other Languages
05-14-2002, 02:13 PM
I get tired of the blasted "RPG programmers can't learn other languages" nonsense. In fact, I never heard of RPG before coming to the IBM midrange space. There are few languages available on the 400/iSeries... in fact in most shops it's almost exclusively RPG. But that's entirely up to IBM and it's another subject. The cycle has it's purpose. It's a feature. Learn it and get over it. Or don't learn it. Don't care. It doesn't bother me that by using the cycle I'll likely turn out a _reliable_ summary break program quicker than you. ;) And with clearer code. Does that mean I don't use procedures? Service programs? APIs? That I don't use Java? Never wrote a C program? Gimme a break! -- Just my experience. Tom
05-14-2002, 04:29 PM
Bill, the original statement by Hassan mentioned programmers who _started_ with RPG. I don't think he was suggesting that for an experienced programmer learning RPG, using the RPG cycle could actually somehow affect that programmer's ability to learn other new languages. So I suggest another question added to your survey: 1c. If so, was RPG your first programming language? My answers: 1. Yes 1a. Yes, except (whines) please don't ask me how FORCE and FEOD interact 1b. No 1c. No, it was about my twenty-eleventh
05-14-2002, 04:30 PM
Not to suggest that I agree with Hassan's statement that learning RPG first necessarily makes it difficult to learn other languages.
05-14-2002, 07:05 PM
Other than BASIC and FORTRAN learned in school, RPG was my first language (RPG II on a System/3). However, I think I was pretty lucky in that I worked for a small entrepreneurial company - I was also simultaneously exposed to assembly language (on the early Intel/Zilog processors) as well as to EDL. For those who don't remember it, EDL was the language of the Series/1, one of the most flexible and powerful machines available in the late 70's. It was an event-driven language (in fact, that's what EDL stood for), way before the days of "event-driven programming" such as Visual Basic. I went from assembly to Pascal to C to C++ to Java, all the while continuing on in RPG and CL as the midrange platform progressed. A few sidetracks in dBase and Smalltalk, a bit of LISP here and COBOL there. An odd amalgam, perhaps, but I think it allows me to know when to apply the appropriate language to the appropriate job. Wow. I hadn't noticed until just then that I've gone from the Series/1 to the iSeries. That's almost spooky... Joe
05-15-2002, 04:41 AM
1. Yes. a)Yes b)No
05-15-2002, 04:52 AM
1. Do you program in RPG? If yes: 1a. are you comfortable with the logic of the "Cycle"? 1b. any problems learning other programming languages? 1c. was RPG your first programming language? __________________________________________________ ___ 1. occasionally - prefer something that generates code, its faster. 1a. yes. (anything with CYCLE in its gotta be good for you, right?) 1b. no 1c. no
05-15-2002, 04:56 AM
My first language was RPG II, on an S/34. I quickly picked up COBOL, and FORTRAN on the same machine. My first job in the industry was coding COBOL on an S/34 and one of the first S/38s. I then criss-crossed between COBOL, and RPG assignments. My first Mainframe account used COBOL, and a third party package called EASYTRIEVE. I was surprised how similar EASYTRIEVE was to RPG cycle-wise. Over the years, I would guess that I've done more RPG coding than anything else. As of today it's about 20% COBOL, 75% RPG, the remaining 5% being VBA, and Crystal Reports. The big RPG learning curve was moving from RPG II on the S/34 to RPG III on the S/38. There was some confusion at first, but not for too long. There still exists a plethora of programs in S/36 mode on AS/400s. These programs run businesses, and still have to be maintained. As for new development, and the cycle: I use it when it's called for, and I don't use it when it's not called for. Dave
05-15-2002, 05:40 AM
First, to the questions: 1) Yes, but I can't consider myself an "RPG programmer". (I'm an "RPG compiler programmer"); 1a) Yes; 1b) No; 1c) No (probably #21). Second, some opinions. Regarding Hassan's observation "However, I found that those programmerswho started off with RPG and stayed with the cycle, find it quite difficult to learn other language.", I think there may be a germ of truth in that statement. The fact is, different people have different skill levels. Some take to computers with no difficulty, and some struggle. Some learn CompSci in university, some learn programming in college, and some are pulled in to jobs cold off the street. (MAPICS is a good example of the latter.) As a gross generalization, I'd posit that university graduates generally have an easier time learning new things, almost certainly easier than those who learn programming on-the-job. And yet, few university students learn RPG as their first language. On the other hand, for many who learn programming on-the-job, RPG probably is their first language, and quite possibly their only language. For many of these people, learning RPG was probably painful enough already, and learning new things (even things like RPG IV and ILE) is not high in their list of priorities.
05-15-2002, 07:18 AM
| 1. Do you program in RPG? Yes, but exclusively in ILE now. | If yes: | 1a. If so, are you comfortable with the logic of the "Cycle"? Absolutely. The cycle is just a tool. Just as is SQL, Progen, etc. are tools. The cycle has it's place. In fact, it's one of the "cool" things about RPG as it takes a lot of work out of creating your own cycle. | 1b. If so, do you have problems learning other programming No. However RPG was about the 14th programming language I learned (on a System/3) out of about 25 languages that I know. I do find RPG somewhat quaint. And, because it's strictly procedural I can understand how pure RPG programmers might have trouble with other languages. What I don't understand, however, is why any RPG programmer would have trouble with free format RPG. Any RPG programmer I know has lots of experience with free format programming. It's called CL. chuck Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of my employer.
05-15-2002, 07:39 AM
1. Yes 1a. Yes - it's a tool, and you can whip out reports faster using the RPG cycle than with just about any other language. 1b. No 1c. No - I had exposure to a great many languages in college (though that doesn't really count as experience, IMO) and actually used several: BASIC (and specialized variants), C, C++, Mathematica, Pascal, Assembly I can see how a primarily procedural programmer might have difficulty picking up object-oriented concepts, as it requires a somewhat radical shift in thinking. "Proper" OO solutions look very little like traditional procedural solutions.
05-15-2002, 09:49 AM
I forgot to give my answers, and I had considered listing Barbara's 1c question with the others, but had a hard time with it. I programmed in Basic by just screwing around in it, nothing serious and assumed that it would be a rare occurance that anyone's first exposure to programming would be RPG. Which might be an interesting poll by itself, "Do you know anyone who's first programming exposure was RPG?" Anyways, to my answers: > 1. Do you program in RPG? Yup. > If yes: > 1a. If so, are you comfortable with the logic of the "Cycle"? Absolutely, except matching records is always a struggle - but I haven't used that for over 10 years. > 1b. If so, do you have problems learning other programming > languages? Not really. I can easily move between RPG and Visual Basic and Visual Basic for Applications and Visual FoxPro. I did a pretty good job in learning Java, but I don't use it; same with C.
05-15-2002, 10:24 AM
<blockquote><tt> 1. Do you program in RPG? </tt></blockquote> yes <blockquote><tt> If yes: 1a. If so, are you comfortable with the logic of the "Cycle"? </tt></blockquote> No. I had an RPG II class in 1974 and 1975 in getting my Associate Degree, along with some Cobol and Fortran, but don't remember much about it. I was a computer operator on System/3 for a year, then went into telecommunications and assembly language for 12 years. I came into the AS/400 in 1989 learning RPG III with a consulting company. We did maybe one exercise with the cycle to see how it worked because we would probably have to maintain cycle code. I remember doing one report program with the cycle in 1989, and I've never seen one since then, but then I've done mostly new development. <blockquote><tt> 1b+. Was RPG your first language? </tt></blockquote> No. <blockquote><tt> 1b. If so, do you have problems learning other programming languages? </tt></blockquote> N/A There are people who took RPG courses like I did almost 30 years ago and went right into Sys/3X programming and maybe have stayed with the platform all these years. It ran a lot of small businesses and there are probably some RPG programmers who picked it up to provide reporting the company wanted. It just shows me that RPG is productive for people who were more business oriented than computer science oriented. The same questions can probably be asked about DBase programmers, etc. A lot of solid business logic was written by people may not enjoy translating their expertise into the vagaries of event snippets. Good questions, Bill and Barbara. Ralph
05-15-2002, 12:11 PM
Wow! I did not realize I was being demonized without my knowledge. LOL. To be fair with my theory, the questions should be as following. 1. Was RPGII (or RPG-1) your first language? 1.1. If yes, did you stay purely on RPGII for quite long? 1.1.1. If yes, do you find it easy to learn free format languages like COBOL, C, Java etc? 2. Was COBOL or FORTRAN you first language? 2.1 If yes, did you stay quite long before learning RPGII? 2.1.1 If yes, did you find it easy to learn it? 184.108.40.206 If yes, DO YOU PREFER IT OVER FREE FORMAT? I still remember the kind of rap I took for keeping programs migrated from 370 in COBOL. The RPGII loyalist simply refused to maintain COBOL programs calling it a crap language where you have to code a lot to program a litte. Actually as late as 1999 I was in a parts company where applications were run on AS/400 in a S36 mode. I was in the consulting company that maintained the System. I asked my director as to why dont we do a quick conversion to RPG/400 when we have tools. Our director simply refused to learn RPG/400 as an "unnecessary waste of time". This software company is not a "George in the Garage" company but rather listed on TSE. Ofcourse I quit after one month of torture. The same way many old COBOL programmers simply refused to program in RPGII refering to it as an insult to human intellect. I learned and did well in RPGII but never liked it :)
06-16-2002, 10:28 AM
If you ever get to FOCUS you will forget the CYCLE... bobh
06-17-2002, 05:38 AM
If you ever get to FOCUS you will forget the CYCLE... Why stop there Bob? Switch to any other language, and you will forget the RPG cycle. Chris
06-20-2002, 10:45 AM
If you ever get to Perl, be sure to learn its cycle! Very handy, especially for simple tasks like changing specific text in all files in a directory.
07-18-2002, 01:59 PM
This thread seems to never die and, as usual, the best that can be said for the cycle: it's the best gol durned way to write report programs, by cracky! And I agree that is true. ...but, how many developers (seasoned, experienced, expensive) spend any time at all writing report programs?
07-18-2002, 07:09 PM
How many developers spend any time at all writing report programs? I do. Can't always avoid it. But I sure don't muck about with cryptic, convoluted stuff like the cycle. Unless I want to create a nice peice of code that confuses the heck outa those brave fellows that attempt to maintain it.
07-19-2002, 05:14 AM
The cycle is neither cryptic nor convoluted. It's an implicit mechanism, which means you need to have a basic understanding of how it works to understand the program, but that doesn't mean it's convoluted. There's no faster way to write a simple report program (from a pure language perspective) than RPG with its cycle.
07-19-2002, 06:17 AM
You should take a look at FOCUS from IBI; beats RPG. bobh
07-19-2002, 06:28 AM
I gotta say it's been a long time since I wrote a report program. We have so many tools now such as ASC's Sequel or Crystal reports. But when I do I still use the Cycle. The cycle creates a standard way of handling level breaks whereas if the cycle isn't used then each programmer may do it a different way. Also, the cycle requires fewer lines of code to implement. If you don't find RPG cryptic then how could possibly say the cycle is cryptic. RPG itself is about as cryptic a programming language that I've learned. chuck Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of my employer. "Vincent" <Vincent@mcpressonline.com> wrote in message news:4e68c06c.18@WebX.WawyahGHajS... | How many developers spend any time at all writing report programs? | | I do. Can't always avoid it. | But I sure don't muck about with cryptic, convoluted stuff like the cycle. Unless I want to create a nice peice of code that confuses the heck outa those brave fellows that attempt to maintain it.
10-28-2002, 11:43 AM
I'm amazed at all the people who have time to contribute to these type of surveys.
10-28-2002, 12:13 PM
Thank you. I've always wanted to be amazing, and now I guess I am. It doesn't take much, just a lousy economy. C'mon, let's hear from all the amazing people out there. Dave
10-28-2002, 02:40 PM
"DLEE1@mcpressonline.com" wrote: > > I'm amazed at all the people who have time to contribute to these type of surveys. And what about all the people who have time to read and post to the shooting-the-breeze forum. (Snicker)
10-28-2002, 05:50 PM
Bill et al: 1. Do you program in RPG? Yes If yes: 1a. If so, are you comfortable with the logic of the "Cycle"? Yes, including matching records 1b. If so, do you have problems learning other programming languages? No 1c. If so, was RPG your first programming language? No But it was the first programming language I used professionally, in a business application environment. At the time it was working on S/32, S/34, and a few S/3 clients of a software house. I also worked on the Series/1, writing EDL running under EDX, aka Event Driven eXecutive, the OS. (Hi Joe!) Fun machine in some ways. Doug
10-29-2002, 05:50 AM
"I also worked on the Series/1, writing EDL running under EDX, aka Event Driven eXecutive, the OS. (Hi Joe!)" <laughing!> Hey! Are you poking fun at my pre-Cambrian upbringing? But you're right, the Series/1 was a lot of fun. It was also a pain in the butt in some ways, but it was one rock-solid machine. Did you ever play with the jumpers on the terminal adapter boards? I got one to show European characters, which I thought was very cool. So, a little more digging showed a switch setting for Japanese. Tried that. Didn't realize that it somehow changed the board to expect 50-Cycle AC rather than 60-Cycle. The light show when I plugged the board back in was impressive. (To all reading this who think "hot-swapping" is a new concept, with a Series/1 you could pretty much yank any board but the CPU or the memory and it would still run. For years we used a tape drive as our mass transfer mechanism between two Series/1 boxes by simply copying data to the drive, yanking the card for the monstrously expensive tape drive. from one machine, shoving it into the other and doing a restore. Our CE probably would have had a fit, but we never had a problem.) Joe
10-29-2002, 06:38 AM
Joe, the Series/1 was a lot of fun. It was also a pain in the butt in  some ways, but it was one rock-solid machine.  It gave me more of an appreciation for many things in built into SSP, such as print spooling, sign-on security, menus, and even ISAM. ISAM was available as a PRPQ, but the shop where I worked developed their own sign-on security and menuing system, database utilties (like DFU on steroids), and even their own print spooler. In later releases, IBM added spooling to EDX. The event driven model also made me realize just how limited RPG II was in some other ways. In the final analysis, we decided the reduced cost of S/1 hardware compared to the S/34 could only be justified when spread across multiple installs due to higher software development costs. IIRC, at the time KMart was using 5000 of them; so was a farm co-op. It was also a great box for process control stuff, as opposed to commercial line of business applications. Did you ever play with the jumpers on the terminal adapter boards?  No, but I loved the multiple shift states for each key and the ability to program your own fonts for the screens. We wrote a program which read the screen font files and reversed all the characters and assigned them for use with one of the extended shift states. Then at the touch of a button we could reverse the characters on the display. It was particularly fun on April first... Doug
10-29-2002, 06:58 AM
"It was particularly fun on April first..." We had a fun one, too. Remember that all syste requests were dnoe via a teletype. You'd hit ATTN-$A to see the running jobs, and so on. Remember that you could also write a global attention handler. We'd write an attention handler that mimicked all the keys, and said bizarre things like no jobs running but all memory used, disks at maximum capacity, 75 people signed on, all kinds of neat things. Ah, the days...
10-29-2002, 10:23 AM
> However, I found that those programmerswho started off with > RPG and stayed with the cycle, find it quite difficult to learn other language. I wanted to make this a new subject and take a very unscientific poll: 1. Do you program in RPG? If yes: 1a. If so, are you comfortable with the logic of the "Cycle"? 1b. If so, do you have problems learning other programming languages? Bill
10-29-2002, 10:23 AM
1. Do you program in RPG? Actually RPG II, RPG III, RPG IV, & RPG ILE (which one are you refering to?). 20 years ago I did a little programming in RPG and LPG. If yes: 1a. If so, are you comfortable with the logic of the "Cycle"? Yes, but I prefer not to use it. It tends to make your program indicator dependant and I loose control of how I want the program to loop on it's reads. 1b. If so, do you have problems learning other programming languages? Not really, I started on Basic (26 different types), then Cobol, Fortran, OBON, SOGGY, PL I, RPG, LPG, RPG, then finally RPG II,III,IV,ILE. I'm still learning RGP ILE, and except for the fact learning a new language is boring unless you are using it with practical examples continuously learning other languages are easy. IMHO, it is not the fact that people use the RPG cycle and stick with it that makes some of them have difficulty learning other languages, but rather the adversion to change. Learning a new language is a change and I've run across a lot of people who would rather not fix it 'cause it ain't broke. Others just want to go to work, work on their little part of the system and go home. The desire to learn a new language or version of the language isn't there so they tend to take longer to learn. None of this happens to do with anything about whether they know RPG and use the cycle only. This can apply to any programmer that has been programming the same language and the same way for a long time.
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