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10/12/2010

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I commend you on taking the middle of the road answer to a difficult question.

I say that because the IBM i is many things to many people and many businesses.

Having made a living off the IBM Midrange platform for many years, I can say without a doubt that the machines progression over the years has never forgotten the root belief that what you could do yesterday, you can still do tomorrow giving companies leverage to maintain status quo while adapting to and adopting new technologies where they can be used when it makes business sense to do so!!

Thanks for helping clear up what we want and what we need in a round about way!!

First, thanks for keeping a connection with customers and business partners through your blog. You've been touching on topics that have been on our minds, and it's reassuring to know that IBM is keeping in touch.

When people ask about a GUI interface for IBM i, it often makes me wonder specifically what they have in mind. A Windows UI? Something where the highest priority task running is the one that monitors mouse, keyboard, & window events? That's a desktop environment; not a server!

I'm aware of a number of organizations where UI and control logic workloads are being migrated off IBM i servers to Microsoft platforms, which puts Microsoft developers in the driver seat, and IBM i developers uncomfortably in the back seat. In that case the question of when will IBM i have a GUI may really be a question of when will IBM i developers be able to take over the driver's position. It turns into a political question, more than a technical one.

-Nathan

I fear that this kind of response is deliberately obtuse. I understand the author's point: there are lots of ways to produce a GUI that connects to a System i and uses it's resources. Oddly enough, the "native" way to create PC desktop GUI applications (.NET) was left off the list in lieu of Java and PHP (seriously?), but that is a separate discussion.

The real question is when will System i have a native GUI processor. What Bob *really* wants to know is when will DSPF be able to create things like buttons and comboboxes. When will RPG be able to process applications in an event-driven model. In other words, when will it be able to produce the user interface we use on PCs every day? And I think we need answer this honestly: probably never.

This is not a bust on IBM, just a realization that that particular ship has sailed. There will be no native GUI on System i, so quit waiting for it. In the long run the author's answer is probably the best - don't look to IBM for the solution, look to vendors.

I have long felt that IBM took a wrong turning years ago.
What users wanted was a GUI Interface that looked like a windows application, they did not care how that GUI was developed.
IBM developed all sorts of methods of producing a GUI interface, HATS, EGL, the list goes on forever it seems..
Even moving into rational development tools, which are top heavy for a lot of RPG shops.
When the system 38 launched it used 5250 emulation, it was propriatry and it worked, and it still works!
What IBM should of done was develop a GUI version of this.
What is now called 'iSeries access for windows' should of been changed to cope with producing a GUI interface.
SEU could of had a new screen type which would indicate that a GUI interface should be presented to the user.
Initially that would of done, no programming changes.
I dispare at the complexity of any of the 'new' ways of developing a GUI interface.

I don't know about "Bob", but as an application programmer I want a simple replacement for EXFMT that looks and acts like a web page. CGIDEV2 is the closest thing I have found, but IBM does not really want to claim it, support it or enhance it. I understand that CGIDEV2 is not a money maker for IBM on the front end but it would be on the back end as a result of more IBM i boxes being sold and supported. We have decades of investment in RPG code and we do not have the time or money to rewrite in another language nor do we have the months or years to invest in learning another language. RPG is the perfect business language. Display files and EXFMT gave us great simple user interfaces for the green screen. We need the equivalent for RPG/GUI without getting a third party vendor involved. Will IBM at least commit to fully supporting and enhancing CGIDEV2? EGL and the like are not viable alternatives for small software developement shops like ours. We have millions of lines of RPG code and thousands of display files installed at all our customer sites and we would go out of business trying to rewrite it all.

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