As some of you may have noticed, IBM has changed the game in terms of the way that new features and functionality arrive on the system.It wasn't so very long ago that "new functionality" and "new release" were effectively synonymous.If you wanted a new function or feature you had to wait for the new release to be installed. Now that's no longer the case. New features are being added regularly via PTFs, and perhaps more importantly are no longer available only on the latest release. In fact, many of the recent additions have been made available on V6 prior to being made available on V7. Our fellow blogger, Dawn May, announced on her blog some recent updates for Systems Director Navigator. Other parts of IBM are announcing new support through variety of vehicles. As we come upon new ones, we'll let you know. If you already know of some other official sources, please let us know via the blog comments.
Changes have included two enhancements for RPG's XML support, both of which we have previously covered in detail in the articles "XML-INTO Revisited" and "New and Improved XML-INTO". Last week, IBM's Barbara Morris announced, via the RPG Cafe's Blog, the latest update in our favorite language. This one is not perhaps quite so exciting, but nevertheless an important change. The Blog appears to be THE place where the RPG team are announcing such enhancements.
The purpose of the new support is to improve the performance of date handling. By this we mean "real" dates (i.e., the D data type) not just numeric or alpha fields that you think of as dates. In order to understand how the new support works, it's perhaps helpful to understand how things work today. When a date field is moved from one date field to another, the generated code validates the date while converting it to the internal binary form** - once converted, it's then converted to the required target format. Obviously this all takes time. More importantly, since the system will never allow an invalid date to be stored on disk, it's a complete waste of time if the field originated from the database!
The new support speeds this process up by handling the date as a character field whenever possible thereby completely avoiding the validation/conversion process. IBM warns that this support should be used with caution because it is conceivable that you've done something "odd" that resulted in an invalid date field, but we suspect that in practice this will be a very rare event.
We intend to do some testing of this support when we have a chance and will report back on our findings. In the meantime, you can find the details, including the required PTF numbers, here.
For now though, it's back to training a group of mainframe RPG programmers on the joys of IBM i, RDP and RPG IV. We'll let you know how that's working out next week.
** In case you didn't realize it, on the disk dates are actually stored as a binary integer which is a count of the number of days since ... well it doesn't really matter and we can't be bothered to look it up but the start of the Gregorian calendar sounds about right.