System i Developer Sets Date for Next RPG & DB2 Summit
Published: January 12, 2010
by Dan Burger
RPG is dead. Long live RPG. Repeat. Chug beer. Write more code. RPG is not going away anytime soon. The amount of RPG code running businesses, if laid end to end, would stretch from Earth to the farthest galaxy--give or take a few light years. Yes, some of that code is as old as the dinosaurs. So how does a 50-year-old programming language survive in a high tech world where most "innovations" have the staying power of a lit firecracker? Evolution.
Those that don't know RPG from TGIF have little or no idea of the evolutionary processes or current situation. Critics say the evolutionary process has been slow, spastic, and unable to keep up with modern times. It's true that RPG has its limitations. It can also be said that IBM isn't making the same investments in RPG today as it did 10 years ago. If it was, wouldn't Big Blue be making a big deal of it? But do either of these things have a direct bearing on pending extinction? I don't think so.
RPG is being enhanced. Its capabilities and its accomplishments go far beyond what most people would know. Give it credit for what it does well, particularly transactional processing and DB2 database access. Yes, there are RPG programming zombies locked in closets and mired in code maintenance mode. But over where the sun shines, there are RPG programmers scaling business-problem mountains. They've upgraded their skills by learning RPG IV and increased their knowledge in topics such as SQL, DB2, ILE, PHP, and Web technologies.
So let's take a look at upgrading skills. That's a personal choice and/or a corporate choice. It's a wise choice if the opportunity to put new skills to work is part of the equation. Who would buy a new server and leave it in the box?
Beyond that launching point is the decision how the new skills will be learned. Choices include reading books, watching videos and online presentations, and in classroom settings. That's the road we're on today.
"It's clear that people learn more and retain more through interactive, in-person education," says Paul Tuohy, a well-known trainer in RPG topics and one of four educators that make up System i Developer, the organization behind the twice annual RPG & DB2 Summits that introduce programmers to the potential of RPG.
If you figure that going it alone adds an obstacle to learning, you see where Tuohy is headed. He says the success of the Summit and the success of those attending the Summit is attributable to interaction among instructors and attendees.
"Every speaker at the Summit enjoys talking with attendees, so we all tend to hang around the common area when we're not in sessions," he says. "Our attendees keep telling us that this accessibility and relaxed approach creates a uniquely effective and enjoyable learning experience."
Naturally, learning has a lot to do with the instructors, with the willingness to learn, and then the environment where new skills can be put to work.
In addition to Tuohy, the System i Developer team includes Susan Gantner, Jon Paris, and Skip Marchesani. Each one is an RPG and DB2 veteran who has stayed current with technological advancements and how they can be applied to the advantage of all types of businesses. The speaker roster also includes subject matter experts from IBM such as Mike Cain, Kent Milligan, and Barbara Morris, plus a couple of top minds from the private sector--Scott Klement and Aaron Bartell.
The willingness to learn and the ability to apply new knowledge to the benefit of the company investing in training and education is the other side of the equation. Where funds are dedicated to training and programmer teams are dedicated to improving skills, there are almost always motivated people with personal goals as well as team goals. Networking in this type of learning environment is benefit in professionalism as well as technical skills.
The next RPG & DB2 Summit conference will take place March 23-25 at the Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel and Spa in Fort Worth, Texas. Registration is $995 ($895 for Summit Alumni) until February 12, and then $1,295 from February 13-March 5. The fees have not increased since the 2007 conference and include seven meals. The hotel room rate is $139 (plus taxes), which reflects a discount for Summit attendees.
For more information on the RPG & DB2 Summit, see www.systemideveloper.com.
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