IBM is announcing today that Rational Open Access: RPG Edition (aka RPG OA) is being included, at no extra charge, with the RPG ILE compiler and runtime. The PTFs which enable this support are expected to be available on February 14. By May 8, you will no longer be able to get the original product. This removes any price for people to develop with, or use, RPG OA. The product details are these: 5733-OAR will no longer be available. The capability will be integrated into 5761-WDS for 6.1, 5770-WDS for 7.1, and into the base operating systems for each of those releases.
Why is IBM doing this? To put it simply, we listened to what the community wanted and needed. Over the years, IBM has produced many technologies to help clients modernize their applications. Some of these came out as parts of existing products. Others were products on their own. In the almost two years since RPG OA became available, while many vendors and developers took the plunge into the new Open Access waters, the community kept encouraging IBM to make this technology a base part of modern RPG.
Modernization, as I have written before, should be an expected step in the lifecycle of an application. Businesses invest in software with the intent that it will last a long time, but in the world of information technology, computer science is always making advances, so owners of any long-lived piece of software should plan that the solution will need updates to take advantage of new capabilities, and provide functions in ways which were not considered, or not feasible, when the application was first written.
There are many tools to use when modernizing an application, and no single tool can do everything. In the IBM i world, the tool which received the greatest attention over the past couple of years has been RPG OA. (I won’t get into the technical details here, since there have been several helpful articles with that material - Jon & Susan’s blog, for example.) Several vendors built excellent tools and solutions around it, while others stayed away, in part because the RPG OA “handler” technology would not be available on all customer machines. It became clear that RPG OA could have a more significant beneficial effect on RPG modernization as a capability available to anyone who uses RPG, rather than to a subset.
I appreciate all the time that various members of the community have spent discussing RPG OA with us over the past couple of years. It was initially designed with input from several members of our ISV Advisory Council, as well as other influential people in the RPG & IBM i community. I also appreciate the people inside IBM, both IBM i technical people as well as IBM Rational technical and business people who evaluated the customer input and took this step.
There is more to be done with RPG OA, and I am excited about the direction it is taking. While it’s not a panacea, it is a very helpful tool to have in your modernization toolbox.
So, what do you think? Have you used RPG OA yet? Have you used a vendor’s product built on it? If not, are you more likely to do so now that it is essentially universally available? I’d be happy to hear your comments. After all, it was comments and discussion from the community which helped make this change possible. And that’s one thing I really enjoy about working with IBM i – having a community filled with people who care enough about the platform to share their ideas and opinions.
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