22
Mon, Apr
1 New Articles

The Midrange Manager: More About Field Names

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

In the last issue, I wrote about field-naming conventions in your database files. I got a number of letters concerning this, and a few people posted comments in our online forums.

Thank you for taking the time to write in. Believe me, I read every one of these forums postings as well as the email you send me.

It appears to me that the issue of naming conventions is much deeper than database fields. There are the fields in the programs themselves, work fields, local fields, global fields, parameters, fields from a data area, and the list goes on.

While we all have our own view on field names, a recent conversation on an RPG IV list server that I monitor spawned an idea that, at first, was simply a matter of taste. But truth be told, it's really a serious issue.

That idea has become the Blue Ribbon Campaign Against @ # $ in Field Names.

This campaign may seem silly, but those three characters that are so widely used in RPG code are probably one of the biggest challenges to a shop when they have to go international. Many other national language character sets do not support these characters. In fact, many RPG programs won't even compile on other machines if these symbols are used in the source code. So it can be a real problem.

I would like to propose that you evaluate the use of these three symbols in your shops. There is no reason to continue to use such symbols that have no inherent meeting. Oh sure, the programmer who wrote the code knows that if a field name has a pound sign in the second position, it is a work field. But come on, do we still write code for ourselves, or do we write it for the person who has to come in after us and make changes?

RPG IV supports 10-position field names in the database, display, and printer files. Outside of those three areas, RPG IV supports 14-position field names for all areas of the language and even longer field names for some of the newer components (such as the EVAL opcode and the free-format specifications).

There is no reason to use a @ # $ in a field name today. Take the following example field name from a reader:

L#AMT

This was described as a local variable in a subprocedure, a work field holding the Amount value. I somehow believe that people who come up with these kinds of naming conventions were always perplexed as to why we needed 80 columns on those old punch cards when they could get it done in 40 columns.

But seriously, how could you make this more understandable to a follow-on programmer? How about naming the field something like this?

L_AMOUNT

You still have that "L" in front of it, the underscore is an internationally recognized character, and the world AMOUNT is arguably more clear. If you don't like the underscore, leave it out.

This Blue Ribbon Campaign Against @ # $ in Field Names is an interesting idea. So what I'm going to do is run a contest for the campaign logo. Here are the rules:

Submit your idea (in final form or nearly final form) to me no later than July 5, 2003. Send the entries to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. All entries must be text-only, graphical, or a combination of both. All entries become the property of MC Press, LLC and may be used in future publications and promotions. I will select the top three or four best entries and submit them to the readership of this newsletter for a vote. The winner will have the honor of being the one who designed the logo, and I will throw in a free copy of the new edition of The Modern RPG IV Language, Third Edition as an incentive. But hurry; you don't want to waste your Fourth of July weekend working on this stupid idea.

Bob Cozzi has been programming in RPG since 1978. Since then, he has written many articles and several books, including The Modern RPG IV Language--the most widely used RPG reference manual in the world. Bob is also a very popular speaker at industry events such as COMMON and RPG World and is the author of his own Web site, www.rpgiv.com, and of the RPG ToolKit, an add-on library for RPG IV programmers.

BOB COZZI

Bob Cozzi is a programmer/consultant, writer/author, and software developer. His popular RPG xTools add-on subprocedure library for RPG IV is fast becoming a standard with RPG developers. His book The Modern RPG Language has been the most widely used RPG programming book for more than a decade. He, along with others, speaks at and produces the highly popular RPG World conference for RPG programmers.


MC Press books written by Robert Cozzi available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

RPG TnT RPG TnT
Get this jam-packed resource of quick, easy-to-implement RPG tips!
List Price $65.00

Now On Sale

The Modern RPG IV Language The Modern RPG IV Language
Cozzi on everything RPG! What more could you want?
List Price $99.95

Now On Sale

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS

LATEST COMMENTS

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: