Sat, Jun
4 New Articles

Book Review: Advanced Integrated RPG

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Isn't it about time somebody told us how to integrate RPG and Java?


Tom Snyder's first foray into RPG programming books, Advanced Integrated RPG, is an auspicious beginning. The book is ostensibly about three specific examples of integration between RPG and Java: accessing Excel spreadsheets, creating PDF documents, and sending email. And while the book presents these topics quite well, it's the larger view of the book that really makes it special.


To properly take advantage of the Java capabilities of RPG, you must use the Integrated Language Environment (ILE) version of RPG. Since not all of us are ILE experts, a book introducing the integration of Java and RPG should by necessity cover the concepts of ILE, especially as they apply to using the two languages together. And while that makes a lot of theoretical sense, practically speaking, a thorough treatise on ILE programming would be larger than this book's 400 pages.


Somehow, though, Tom has managed to incorporate a functional introduction to ILE programming in about 70 pages and provide a corresponding treatment (I hesitate to call it an overview because it's quite exhaustive) of Java integration in another 80 pages. The ILE section alone is worth the price of the book to a traditional RPG programmer trying to make sense of ILE.


After that, Tom gets right into the meat of the book, providing practical examples of how to use RPG to take advantage of Java code, particularly existing open-source Java code. He starts by tackling what must be one of today's most prevalent issues in real-world companies: making the data on your i work and play nicely with Excel. Many techniques are being used today with varying levels of success. The simplest is the comma-delimited file, also known as comma-separated values (CSVs). Another is to automate the System i Access plug-ins for Excel, which allow uploading and downloading. But the most straightforward way is to be able to directly access and update an Excel spreadsheet. An open-source project for this exists at the Apache Web site. The project is called POI-HSSF, which stands for Poor Obfuscation Implementation, Horrible SpreadSheet Format (nobody refers to the full names anymore, including the Apache project itself, but I think they give you a flavor of the irreverent nature of open-source code). POI-HSSF is a relatively robust API for accessing the data in an Excel spreadsheet, but because it's written in Java, it isn't particularly useful for the average RPG programmer. That's why this book is so important: it shows you all the steps needed to use a complex Java API like HSSF-POI from within a standard ILE RPG program.


This is the largest portion of the book and for a good reason: accessing and manipulating Excel spreadsheets is a complex subject. This is especially true with HSSF-POI because unlike the other methods I mentioned above, which deal primarily with just the data, HSSF-POI lets you manipulate down to the tiniest detail the actual formatting of the spreadsheet, even including some rudimentary support for graphs and images.


The book continues with two more powerful examples. The first uses the tremendously popular iText package to create PDF documents. iText is a great package that is in use in many common  packages, including Eclipse's Business Intelligence and Reporting Tool (BIRT) and Jasper Reports. iText provides an API that allows people to create and manipulate PDF documents without having to understand the complex PDF structure. This is a huge convenience; when I wrote my CPYSPLFPDF function many years ago, I had to learn quite a bit about the internal structure of PDF documents. A library like this would have made this task a lot easier.


The final section of the book deals with the JavaMail API from Sun. JavaMail allows Java programs to send and receive email from a mail server. This can be a little confusing; JavaMail does not actually send mail; it only sends an email message to your mail server. It's up to your mail server to then send the message on to its destination. If you don't have access to a mail server, the API doesn't do you a lot of good, but since all corporations and most home users have email, this shouldn't be an insoluble hurdle.


The book is rounded out with a brief few pages of pertinent tables and references—refreshingly few, in fact, for a book of its size. That's not surprising, given the amount of information stuffed between the covers. I hope you get the time to take a look at Advanced Integrated RPG; if you want to make your i a more integral component of your corporate network, you'll be sure to find this book useful.


Joe Pluta

Joe Pluta is the founder and chief architect of Pluta Brothers Design, Inc. He has been extending the IBM midrange since the days of the IBM System/3. Joe uses WebSphere extensively, especially as the base for PSC/400, the only product that can move your legacy systems to the Web using simple green-screen commands. He has written several books, including Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i, E-Deployment: The Fastest Path to the Web, Eclipse: Step by Step, and WDSC: Step by Step. Joe performs onsite mentoring and speaks at user groups around the country. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

MC Press books written by Joe Pluta available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i
Joe Pluta introduces you to EGL Rich UI and IBM’s Rational Developer for the IBM i platform.
List Price $39.95

Now On Sale

WDSC: Step by Step WDSC: Step by Step
Discover incredibly powerful WDSC with this easy-to-understand yet thorough introduction.
List Price $74.95

Now On Sale

Eclipse: Step by Step Eclipse: Step by Step
Quickly get up to speed and productivity using Eclipse.
List Price $59.00

Now On Sale



Support MC Press Online

$0.00 Raised:

Book Reviews

Resource Center

  • SB Profound WC 5536 Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. You can find Part 1 here. In Part 2 of our free Node.js Webinar Series, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Brian will briefly discuss the different tools available, and demonstrate his preferred setup for Node development on IBM i or any platform. Attend this webinar to learn:

  • SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation. Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects. The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the company are not aligned with the current IT environment.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT Generic IBM announced the E1080 servers using the latest Power10 processor in September 2021. The most powerful processor from IBM to date, Power10 is designed to handle the demands of doing business in today’s high-tech atmosphere, including running cloud applications, supporting big data, and managing AI workloads. But what does Power10 mean for your data center? In this recorded webinar, IBMers Dan Sundt and Dylan Boday join IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington for a discussion on why Power10 technology is the right strategic investment if you run IBM i, AIX, or Linux. In this action-packed hour, Tom will share trends from the IBM i and AIX user communities while Dan and Dylan dive into the tech specs for key hardware, including:

  • Magic MarkTRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms. Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Request your trial now!  Request Now.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericForms of ransomware has been around for over 30 years, and with more and more organizations suffering attacks each year, it continues to endure. What has made ransomware such a durable threat and what is the best way to combat it? In order to prevent ransomware, organizations must first understand how it works.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericIT security is a top priority for businesses around the world, but most IBM i pros don’t know where to begin—and most cybersecurity experts don’t know IBM i. In this session, Robin Tatam explores the business impact of lax IBM i security, the top vulnerabilities putting IBM i at risk, and the steps you can take to protect your organization. If you’re looking to avoid unexpected downtime or corrupted data, you don’t want to miss this session.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericCan you trust all of your users all of the time? A typical end user receives 16 malicious emails each month, but only 17 percent of these phishing campaigns are reported to IT. Once an attack is underway, most organizations won’t discover the breach until six months later. A staggering amount of damage can occur in that time. Despite these risks, 93 percent of organizations are leaving their IBM i systems vulnerable to cybercrime. In this on-demand webinar, IBM i security experts Robin Tatam and Sandi Moore will reveal:

  • FORTRA Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAManaging messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events? Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAThe thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing. Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAFor over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks. Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:

  • LANSA Business users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.

  • LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed. Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

  • LANSASupply Chain is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. From raw materials for manufacturing to food supply chains, the journey from source to production to delivery to consumers is marred with inefficiencies, manual processes, shortages, recalls, counterfeits, and scandals. In this webinar, we discuss how:

  • The MC Resource Centers bring you the widest selection of white papers, trial software, and on-demand webcasts for you to choose from. >> Review the list of White Papers, Trial Software or On-Demand Webcast at the MC Press Resource Center. >> Add the items to yru Cart and complet he checkout process and submit

  • Profound Logic Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

  • SB Profound WC 5536Join us for this hour-long webcast that will explore:

  • Fortra IT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators with intimate knowledge of the operating system and the applications that run on it is small. This begs the question: How will you manage the platform that supports such a big part of your business? This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn: