Mon, May
3 New Articles

Breaking the Code: How Open Source Builds Bridges Between New Programmers and Veteran IBM i-ers

Programming - Other
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

In today’s world, no matter which tools you work with, you can be an IBM i programmer.

Why aren’t there more young IBM i programmers?

The received answer is that schools don’t teach RPG or “business programming” anymore and that, as a result, there’s a shortage of qualified IBM i talent. But that take doesn’t hold up. Each year, U.S. colleges churn out tens of thousands of IT graduates, and while it’s true that the demand for programmers continues to outpace the supply, tech companies in a variety of subsectors still manage to get ahold of these recent graduates.

The particularly dire state of the IBM i talent gap is primarily a function of how the industry approaches talent acquisition and our assumptions about what it means to be an “IBM i programmer.” The received wisdom assumes that a good IBM i programmer already has IBM i platform-specific knowledge. We seem to have forgotten that a talented programmer is a talented programmer, regardless of the platform.

To stave off the impending talent crisis, companies in the IBM i ecosystem need to be willing to invest time and money into training recent graduates. As the proverb goes, the hardest programming language to learn is the first one. That is to say, the coding techniques and approaches to application architecture you learn while programming in one language are transferable to other languages. When writing code, you’re not programming the language, you’re programming the application (or the function, service, etc.). While it means new employees won’t be ready to work on production code immediately, being open to coders without IBM i platform experience has the benefit of massively broadening the talent pool.

Just as important is the need to make the platform itself more welcoming and more familiar to young programmers. That is, employers need to make it more open. Nearly all younger programmers know open-source tools, because they’re taught them in school. Moreover, they like these tools. Telling them they can’t use GitHub, JIRA, or Jenkins if they work at your shop discourages them from applying and fuels the talent gap in the IBM i ecosystem.

Many people don’t know that IBM i already has the capability to run open-source applications, natively. IBM PASE (Portable Application Solutions Environment for i) has been a part of the operating system for more than decade, but many companies don’t make use of it. If the benefit of having more flexibility to run open-source applications in conjunction with your RPG code hasn’t been enough of an encouragement to explore this feature in the past, the threat of a declining work force basically demands it.

To be sure, there will always be the need for at least some of your programmers to understand specifics about the platform. They need to understand libraries and source files, library lists, job queues, and job logs, and they must be familiar with RPG and DB2 to maintain the fundamental codebase. Open source just adds flexibility to your setup by allowing seasoned RPG programmers and young talent to work in tandem.

In short, incorporating open source into your IBM i setup gives you the best of both worlds. You still get the unparalleled reliability and low total cost of ownership of the IBM i platform, while also getting the flexibility of being able to put young programmers to work immediately. The key is for programmers in the IBM i space to recognize that in today’s world, no matter which tools you work with, you still are (or can be) an IBM i programmer.




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: