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RPG & DB2 Summit Attendees Get Preview of Upcoming RPG Enhancements

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Some 175 people attended the recent RPG and DB2 Summit in Minneapolis and attendees left happy with the training and insight into future software enhancements, according to organizers.

As the Keynote speaker, IBM's George Farr, worldwide product line manager for WDS, WDSc, and the RPG compilers, disclosed enhancements to RPG slated for the next release of i5/OS. Addressing an overflow crowd of RPG & DB2 Summit attendees, he emphasized IBM's continued investment in RPG as evidenced by several significant enhancements that make the language even more flexible and efficient.

Among the upcoming enhancements include, among other things, support for local files in subprocedures, relaxed size restrictions, and the ability to run multiple threads within an application.

The room spontaneously reacted with exclamations and applause as Farr explained that V6R1 will include local file support for subprocedures. By defining an F-spec after beginning a subprocedure, that file becomes local to the subprocedure. "You like that?" asked Farr, grinning.

IBM will also increase size limits for character fields, data structures, and arrays from 32K to 16MB to better accommodate applications that handle XML documents, which tend to be very large.

Today, RPG's serialized threads can sometimes create bottlenecks when used in a server environment. According to Farr, as of the next release, developers can expect RPG IV to have full support for multiple threads. This update positions RPG business logic to be easily called from the Web without risk of corrupting data. In addition, developers retain the option of selecting specific procedures to be serialized.

Other planned enhancements include the ability to define a file as "qualified" to alleviate the need to repeatedly rename formats, and the ability to reduce module size by automatically locating and deleting unreferenced variables.
Farr also elicited feedback on his "vision for the future" of "all-free RPG." Most in the audience expressed enthusiasm based on their positive experiences to date with /Free. However, a few attendees voiced concern that the lack of structure inherent in /Free does not force less experienced or less detail-oriented programmers to follow formatting standards. "Freedom comes with a price," Farr acknowledged.

Vern Hamberg of RJS Software Systems suggested that one solution might be a formatting Wizard for /Free data specifications (D-specs). In typical Farr style, he quipped, "Good idea. That will give Barbara [Morris] something to do this weekend." The audience continued brainstorming potential solutions, including the ability for IT organizations to define their own D-spec standards.

Attendee Melinda Miller of Lawson Software observed that RPG "won't go anywhere" if it can't run on other platforms. Farr suggested IBM's Enterprise Generation Language (EGL) as one way to extend RPG to other platforms and generate Web interfaces. In addition, he said, IBM is actively working on plans to enhance EGL's integration and communication with RPG and System i resources. "Nobody is saying that EGL will replace RPG," he stressed. "Customers have a choice, use RPG IV, EGL or both combined to solve your business problems."

About RPG & DB2 Summit

The RPG & DB2 Summit, created by System i Developer as a new, highly interactive conference experience devoted exclusively to the needs of RPG & DB2 developers, was held October 2-4 in Minneapolis. The Summit provides an educational agenda focused solely on the RPG and database skills developers need for their daily work, presented in an intimate and affordable environment.

About System i Developer

Comprised of top experts in RPG, ILE, DB2, SQL, and WDSc technologies, System i Developer delivers the very best RPG/DB2-focused education available. Its cornerstone conference, the RPG & DB2 Summit, provides an interactive, total immersion experience to RPG and DB2 developers who want to stay abreast of the latest advancements and learn how to apply specific RPG and DB2 techniques to keep their software applications vibrant and innovative.

As independent educators with longstanding relationships with IBM, members of the consortium also work with individual organizations to provide well-informed, unbiased advice and training on any System i development topic—from basic best practices to the newest, most advanced techniques.

Comprised of top experts in RPG IV, SQL, DB2, ILE, RSE, PHP and Web technologies, System i Developer delivers the very best RPG and DB2-focused education available.  Its cornerstone conference, the RPG & DB2 Summit, provides an interactive, total-immersion experience to RPG and DB2 developers who want to stay abreast of the latest advancements and learn how to apply specific RPG and DB2 techniques to keep their software applications vibrant and innovative. As independent educators with long-standing relationships with IBM, members of the consortium also work with individual organizations to provide well-informed, unbiased advice and training on any IBM i development topic—from basic best practices to the newest, most advanced techniques.

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