Sat, Dec
0 New Articles

What’s So Special About the IBM i Community?

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

IBM i is unique in many ways, but the community that supports it really sets it apart.


My favorite part of having a regular column here at MC Press Online is that I have the opportunity to write about almost anything I like. Politics is a hot topic right now, but I simply will not go there. Instead, I want to focus on my favorite aspect of the IBM i, the people. Maybe it is because it is summertime and the sun is shining outside my office window, or maybe it is because conference season is in full swing. I just get excited when I have the opportunity to interact with other IBM i developers in person.



I’m just returning from the COMMON Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Overall, I think it was a great event. While I don’t have official numbers, attendance seemed better than previous years. Of course, I had the opportunity to catch up with old friends in the IBM i community. I also met many new faces at my sessions, in the expo, and just walking the halls.


I love conferences. In a world of digital interaction, there is still nothing that compares to looking someone in the eye and making a connection. I have made many connections over the years that have been invaluable, and they all started with a handshake and a conversation. In fact, my current job came from getting to know the people working for my company at conferences.


I have one more conference this summer. This one is in Southern California, and who doesn’t like SoCal in summer?



I wish I knew everything about IBM i development, but I don’t. Luckily, I learned from the best in our industry. In fact, I still do! No one knows every nuance of development on our platform. Lucky for all of us, those who are experts in certain areas of our industry, myself included, love to share knowledge with others.


I have some experience in different development ecospheres, and no other platform’s marquee names will go out of their way to answer your questions or teach you something new like ours will. In our community, you can go to an IBM i event and stop your favorite author, the lead developer of the RPG compiler, or even the Chief Architect of the operating system and pick their brain. I see it happen all the time. It happens to me all the time. We are happy to do it.


There are experts to be found virtually as well. IBM’s own RPG Café is a great place to look for answers. The mailing lists on midrange.com are another great resource. I follow many of these lists. Some lists, such as the RPG and Web Development lists, I contribute to. Others, especially the more hardware- and OS-related lists, I just read in order to learn. Both of these resources are free and full of useful knowledge.



The other part of the IBM i community that makes it great is you! The people of this community are unlike any other IT community in which I have been involved. IBM i professionals are passionate about our platform almost to a fault. They believe IBM i and RPG are ideal for business applications, and I agree. Many of you have spent your entire career building business applications. I bet many of those applications still run to this day. Some of those applications could use some modernization, but that is a topic for another day.


Most developers outside of the IBM i community don’t understand the pride that comes with building and maintaining an application for 10 or more years. They usually have to rewrite, or at least overhaul, their applications every so often because the new version of language X comes out and their code no longer works. Many know very little of business processes or how an industry works. They gather requirements and crank out code.


IBM i developers are usually experts in their business in addition to being programmers. Their employers often rely heavily on their knowledge of the business to help formulate solutions to business problems. This makes them valuable to the business.


New Blood

A change is happening. I see it at every conference when I am presenting. I see it in my own office as I build my staff. I see it in discussion forums, emails I receive, and conversations with other IBM i experts. The new generation of IBM i developers is emerging. It has been a long time coming, and many have cried that it would never happen. It has. It is a wonderful thing.


It’s no secret that the average IBM i developer has been on the older side for a long time. Perhaps some have become content to just write applications the same way they always have. But more and more young developers are coming up in the ranks. Companies are going out and finding development talent and bringing them into the fold. With this new talent has come new ideas.


Young developers are bringing new skills to the table. They know different programming languages and new development concepts. They know Python, Ruby, JavaScript, and PHP. They understand that text-based 5250 interfaces are not the future. Luckily, IBM continues to bring these new languages to IBM i. RPG is no longer the answer to every programming problem. That is a good thing. RPG does many things very well and should be used for business logic. There are some tasks that are better handled in other languages, and we now have those options.


It’s a very exciting time! This is when the community will mold the next generation of IBM i professionals. If you are not involved in the IBM i community, get going! Start sharing your knowledge. Join discussion boards or mailing lists. Offer to speak at a local college about IBM i and the need for developers in the industry. Bring on interns or entry-level developers and teach them the system. The future is in your hands. Let’s get started!

Brian May

Brian May, an IBM Power Systems Champion and Solutions Architect for Profound Logic Software, devotes the majority of his time to assisting customers with their modernization efforts. He frequently writes and speaks on topics related to RPG, JavaScript, and IBM i Modernization. Brian recently contributed his time and expertise to the new IBM i Modernization Redbook.




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: