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Considering the World Beyond WebSphere

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  • Considering the World Beyond WebSphere

    ** This thread discusses the article: Considering the World Beyond WebSphere **
    ** This thread discusses the Content article: Considering the World Beyond WebSphere **

  • #2
    Why Java and PHP and not RPG?

    ** This thread discusses the article: Considering the World Beyond WebSphere **
    Assume you have an RPG based system that serves your needs and you intend to keep. Aside from the ambiguous support from IBM, what is the advantage of using PHP or Java to build a web presence as opposed to CGIDEV2? Why have PHP or Java call RPG programs when you can have RPG call RPG programs?

    At my previous job we built a fully functional web presence using CGI. It was robust, extremely stable and out customers often expressed how pleased they were with how fast is was. We built all this with RPG, HTML and JavaScript. (If you are going to build a web interface you are almost certainly going to have to learn HTML and JavaScript.)

    To my mind IBM has been inconsistent in their approach to RPG. They have made great enhancements like the free form syntax, qualified data structures and native XML functions. On the other hand, they refuse to establish a GUI for RPG. The approach taken by CGIDEV2 just makes a lot of sense to me.

    Just to establish were I'm coming from: I have done some java programming and I know java pretty well. I agree with what you said about it. I am less well acquainted with PHP and .NET.
    Last edited by jazzjake; 01-26-2010, 04:01 PM. Reason: fix typos


    • #3
      ** This thread discusses the article: Considering the World Beyond WebSphere **
      cgidev2 seems to be a generator and not a language, so you can consider than you have a total technology independance with cgidev2. With cgidev2 you can do all you want with only 5 API, replacing data or HTML or JavaScript etc... with the help of RPG Program.


      • #4
        ** This thread discusses the article: Considering the World Beyond WebSphere **
        Groovy and Grails have been catching my attention too. They are great suggestions in the Java arena! I'm glad you emphasized the point about the stability of existing apps being a drawback. It's not a drawback to the Developers directly, but it is indirectly when going over the budget with the Managers. As time goes by, new managers come in and don't have the experience of the older ones, then the value of the IBM i needs to prove itself again. I'm sorry to hear that another one was decommissioned.

        Good Luck with Groovy and Grails!


        • #5
          ** This thread discusses the article: Considering the World Beyond WebSphere **
          I am glad that you posted your comments on CGIDEV2! It is frustrating that there is not an RPG GUI.

          So, why would PHP be a better option than CGIDEV2? I guess it just depends on the situation. Let's try to put both of them in a playing field where either option would be the same.

          One big thing for our shop was that we were not willing to put our IBM i directly on the Internet that contained our business critical data, no matter how many security measures were taken. So, if we were going to use CGIDEV2 on our Internet page then we would need to have another IBM i for that. Not saying that it isn't done. I am just saying that is one of the criteria that we had to work with.

          And we will rule out the ambiguous support from IBM i. Although that was also a big factor because we were at the deciding point of a big project and wanted to make sure that we were on solid ground going into it. And with a small staff with a lot of work ahead of us we had to make sure we were making the best decision that would could determine. Once started, there was not turning back.

          OK, so taking those big items off the plate. Let's say that we are going to put our IBM i on the web, or buy another, or only target the Intranet with remote access on a secure line. Now we're just down to the brass tacks of tech on tech.

          Now it comes down to web page design. Yes, you will have to learn HTML and Javascript or some other alternative, regardless of which path you choose. You still have to do the graphical design stuff, which I know that I am TERRIBLE at. I know, I've tried My point being here that I would like to do the programming end of the website, but would like to let the design stuff to the experts in that field. Not to mention animations, flash files and all that jazz. My most desired way of doing that would be to provide the code and let someone else create all the visual affects. I would think that web designers would be more well versed and be able to perform updates on the site themselves if it was a language other than CGIDEV2. And PHP would be a good choice there, from what I've experienced. Which would prevent me from being the middle man on web site updates.

          Then there would be the possibility of supporting multiple websites. Suppose you were a growing company that supported multiple sites and they were autonomously supporting their own websites. Who knows what languages they are using or what servers they are running on? But it you were to use PHP, you could reuse some of the code that you have on your main site, push over some data to their internet accessible database to use with the shared PHP code. And now you are running the same business logic on multiple servers in multiple environments. With minimal code modifications and maximum code reuse.

          Now let's suppose. You are only supporting one site. There is the lack of support for session management in CGIDEV2. I suppose there are ways of getting around this, but it is supported with PHP.

          Besides the technical, political, and support reasons. I would probably look at a personal level of marketability. With PHP, you could learn how to provide a web interface to your IBM i. But you would also be learning how to provide a web interface to ANY server that supports PHP. And you would also be able to provide more worth to your IBM i but supplying crucial business data to other applications, both on the intranet and the internet. So, as Jean Mikhaleff Stated in a follow up post, “... with the help of RPG Program ” your code would be dependent upon RPG support. So, at the beginning of the decision process you are limiting yourself.

          If I were given the opportunity to provide a web interface to my IBM i and was given the freedom to choose which technology to implement, with the current state of PHP on the IBM i, I would take this as an opportunity to implement PHP. Although PHP is a new language to learn, I did not find it to have a significantly large learning curve. I am sure you could start providing results relatively quickly.

          When it comes right down to providing dynamic web pages and supporting the entire process with your IBM i developer staff, then either one would do the job. But, with PHP, I feel as though you open up a whole new world of possibilities and integration.

          CGIDEV2 did make a lot of sense. I just think it's too bad that IBM didn't take it and run to provide more of the functionality and flexibility that PHP does.

          I could see your point “Why have PHP or Java call RPG programs when you can have RPG call RPG programs?” Wouldn't it be great if we could just code everything in RPG? Unfortunately I don't think there are any languages out there right now that can do it all and be the best at everything. I think that in today's programming world you have to be versatile. Having a few core languages and taking advantage of what other languages have to integrate them together to get the best results. Even with RPG it is common to call C APIs. I do admit that it would be great to just do it all in RPG though.

          And “Assume you have an RPG based system that serves your needs and you intend to keep” is exactly my point. You don't want to keep the IBM i away from all the other technologies, you want to throw it into the mix and have it remain the solid system that it is that provides the life blood data that all the other systems could use. Making it even more valuable!

          That was a great question! Thanks for asking!


          • #6
            ** This thread discusses the article: Considering the World Beyond WebSphere **
            Thanks for the thoughtful response Tom. I want to react to a few of the points you made.

            From a career marketability perspective, no question PHP, Java or .NET would be the way to go. (I have been trying to break into Java programming for a while now)

            However, from a business standpoint the calculation changes. With CGI you do not have to purchase any new software and you minimize the effort of training your staff. At the very least it is a good stepping stone to these other technologies.

            All programmers, including RPG programmers, should have an understanding of OOP. Understanding OOP will help you when designing programs even if they are procedural programs. But the reality is that most RPG programmers do not have that understanding. In my experience it’s a struggle sometimes just to get them to use newer features of the RPG language and to abandon obsolete features. On the other hand, there are not many Java or PHP programmers looking to learn a legacy language like RPG.

            Your point about the right tool for the right job is well taken. But the other side of the coin is that it is hard to be proficient at too many languages at once. In smaller shops you need the flexibility to assign people where they are needed, you can’t afford too much specialization.


            • #7
              ** This thread discusses the article: Considering the World Beyond WebSphere **
              sounds good to me