Back in March 2013 we wrote an article for the IBM i Extra enewsletter in which we covered the basics of the new iSphere plug-in for RDi. Since that time, iSphere has received several enhancements, so when we saw the announcement this week of an updated version, we decided we had to take another look. Boy are we glad we did! The range of features they have added to this excellent tool is impressive.
We intend to do a complete report, which we will be publishing in an upcoming edition of the IBM i Extra enewsletter, but we wanted to give our fellow RDi enthusiasts a heads-up in advance because some features are so good you should be using them today.
The latest version includes the following features:
- Message File Searching and Editing
- Binding Directory Editor
- Compare/Merge Editor
- Fast search feature for source files.
- Ability to open spooled files in Text, HTML or PDF format.
- Task Tags
- Decorators for objects in the RSE tree view
The search capabilities alone are worth the price of admission. They are blazingly fast. Quite how they have managed to so significantly outperform IBM's own source search capabilities we don't know, but they have--by an order of magnitude. The developers claim up to 60 times faster than IBM's version and based on our limited experience we would not argue with that claim.
Task tags are a nice extension to the standard task support. Simply add a simple comment to your source file to remind you to perform a specific task (e.g., "// TODO must add prototype definitions") and when you save the source a new task is added to the task list. Later, when you find the time to catch up on some of your outstanding tasks, simply clicking on a specific item opens the source file and positions to the task marker. Later, when you have completed your work, simply delete the comment (or just remove the characters "TODO" from the text), save the file and the outstanding task list is automagically updated.
Last, but not least, the new Decorator support. When enabled (via Preferences) the file/member/object description is displayed alongside the object's name. Makes it so much easier to see which source member (for example) it is that you need to open.
You can download the latest version of the plug-in from iSphere's SourceForge page. Documentation is a little thin on the ground right now although some has been incorporated in RDi's help system. The only "official" install instructions we can find are in the project's wiki. The installation is covered here. Don't skip the final step, it installs the server components which are essential to the plug-in function.
We really think you'll enjoy using this new tool. Our congratulations to the development team; it really appears to be a great productivity booster.