They love us. They really love us! Finally IBM Rational has admitted the folly of trying to persuade us to buy our own gifts and is giving us Open Access for free.
Today's announcement confirms the rumors that have been circulating for the last few months. Namely that the OA run-time components are being bundled with IBM i and the compiler components are being included with the compiler. Of course it will all have to be distributed as PTFs for a while, but over time will be shipped as standard. We just read Steve Wills' You and i blog and noticed that our "Valentine" headline is even more appropriate than we thought because the PTFs are due to be available starting on Feb. 14!
The link we have for the formal announcement letter doesn't seem to be working right now so we'll post that in the comments as soon as we can confirm it.
We think this is a good thing for several reasons:
- ISVs that have products that utilize OA no longer have to get customers to install an additional chargeable feature before they can even take advantage of a free trial. IBM partly addressed this by making a trial version of OA available a few months ago but it was still an impediment.
- Smaller ISVs that might otherwise have developed handlers couldn't justify doing so since, in some instances, the cost to the client of installing OA would have exceeded what they could reasonably charge for the product.
- Open-source advocates were never going to embrace writing handlers that relied on a chargeable product.
- Similarly the number of magazine articles on the subject of OA has been severely lacking. Although we have written a couple ourselves we're only aware of two or three other writers who have done anything. In fact we had given up writing on the subject, other than here in the blog. The reason is the same--there's little satisfaction in writing an article on a subject that you know most of your readers can't put into practice. Now that everyone will be able to use the examples we present we'll be dusting off a couple of ideas that we have on hold. In the meantime you can find our earlier articles on OA here and here.
- Last, but not least, it will hopefully dispel the notion that the only thing OA is good for is modernizing 5250 applications. As we've said before, while this is a very important function of OA it's only a tiny part of what can be done with it. We need more applications that exploit email, processing IFS files, Web services, etc. OA is an excellent way to enable such features for "the masses." Even highly skilled RPG programmers can make use of OA. For example, during a recent discussion with IBM's Barbara Morris, we discovered that even though she is comfortable with using the IFS APIs, she actually finds it easier to use an IFS handler that she wrote herself whenever she needs to process IFS files in RPG.
Rational has shown us a little love here. Let's return the favor and thank them the best way we can--by using OA to add new functionality to our favorite language.
Please use the Comments section of this blog to pass on your ideas of the kind of handlers you'd like to see written or indeed to tell us about those that you plan to write.