Some may think these are hopes more than predictions for the year ahead and in some cases we would have to agree.
1) Modernization clarified
The new Modernization Redbooks publication, which we have mentioned before, is due to be delivered in the first quarter of the year. It is in the proofreading stage right now. It is perhaps too much to hope that it will have as far reaching an impact as the earlier "Sorcerer's Guide" RPG Redbooks publication. Our hope is that this new publication will help RPGers realize the breadth of modernization options open to them and, perhaps most importantly, that there is no single right answer. Even more importantly, that the _only_ wrong answer is to do nothing!
2) RPG enhancements continue--perhaps more openly
We finally have a completely free-form version of our favorite language and we love it! But what about 2014? We wish we knew. Despite the fact that Rational is now quite open about its future plans for other products, the oganization remains very tight-lipped about future enhancements to RPG and RDi. By the time Barbara Morris was allowed to tell the world about the free-form changes she was just about fit to explode. Hopefully in 2014 Rational management will realize that the community has a lot to offer in assisting them in formulating their plans and will involve RPGers more in their planning.
3) An expanded audience for RPG education
The biggest change here is that free-form RPG will open the door to many younger programmers. We have introduced many Java/C++/PHP/etc. programmers to the joys of RPG and most love it. The one exception is that they find it _really_ frustrating when a whole bunch of errors suddenly appear when they do nothing more than simply delete a spurious character in a name on a D or F spec. Not to mention the myriad errors that occur when they forget to code /Free and /End-Free directives. Then there is the issue of having to remember the right letter and column to use in order to specify that a file is externally described or update capable! For those of us who grew up with columnar RPG it is no big deal, but imagine how frustrating it is if you are new to the language.
PHP, Java, and, now Ruby, open the doors to a new group of developers--and most like what they find. Let's hope that some of the plans being formulated to advance IBM i education around the world start to bare fruit.
4) SEU bites the dust
No, we are _not_ predicting that IBM will stop supporting SEU altogether. We suspect that may not happen in our careers. However, IBM did stop enhancing it for new language features back in V6. That wasn't that big a deal until the new completely free format RPG came onto the scene. Rational Developer for i has the only editor from IBM that understands and supports the free format F, D, H and P specs. If you want to use that new support and you don't like the idea of a completely reverse-image green screen full of errors, you had better not be using SEU.
We expect to see the trend of those moving from SEU to RDi taking another sharp rise in 2014, thanks to the new RPG format (or lack thereof). Of course, we've been telling people for years it's a superior tool for programmer productivity, regardless of IBM's support for other editors or languages. But, hey, if it takes a new RPG to bring people to a more productive toolset, so be it.
5) Ruby makes its presence felt
Only time will tell if the community will embrace Ruby as it has PHP but, with enthusiasts like Aaron Bartell behind it, there's certainly a good possibility. Unlike PHP however, Ruby does require that you completely embrace the OO model, but perhaps the community is ready for that now.
6) SQL growth continues
The last few years have seen a massive growth in SQL usage and we expect to see that continue. While we do not count ourselves in the "The answer is SQL. Now what was the question?" category that some SQL bigots seem to fall into, we do welcome this change.
Database modernization projects also seem to be proceeding apace and we expect this to continue as more and better tooling enters the market.
Summing it up
We could go on and add a whole bunch of other categories. Increased usage of Open Access handlers for tasks other than 5250 modernization for example. Or even more widespread use of free PHP tooling. But we have to stop somewhere and invite you to add your own predictions in the comments section.