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OS/400 Edition
Volume 3, Number 10 -- March 11, 2003

Profound Logic Launches IDE for RPG-Based Web Development

by Alex Woodie

Profound Logic Software, developers of the popular RPG Alive programming tool, announced the introduction of its first integrated development environment (IDE) this week at the COMMON conference in Indianapolis. The new IDE, called RPG Smart Pages (RPGsp), is an RPG-centric Web application development environment that integrates a drag-and-drop HTML designer with a Windows-based RPG editor. By keeping the HTML and RPG development components together, company officials say, RPGsp speeds development and presents a more polished-looking CGI-based Web application.

RPGsp has two components: a Windows-based development environment that includes a drag-and-drop HTML editor that also includes an RPG editor, and a runtime component that works with OS/400's Web server (either the standard HTTP Server or the one that's "powered by Apache") on OS/400 V4R4 and higher. Both components provide advantages over other Web development and runtime environments, say Patrick Conlon, Profound Logic's director of sales and marketing, and Alex Roytman, the company's lead developer.

First, RPGsp's Windows-based development environment lets programmers go quickly back and forth between Profound's WYSIWYG HTML designer and its RPG editor, without interruption. This has a tremendous advantage over other techniques that require programmers to insert placeholders in the HTML where the RPG will be added. Instead of placeholders, you write the RPG directly into your Web layout. Alternatively, developers can switch to a code view to edit HTML or RPG directly.

Roytman says RPGsp has advantages over a development project where the programmers choose to use an HTML editor, such as Dreamweaver, Macromedia's popular HTML designer, to design a Web page, then populate that Web page with OS/400 data using an RPG program, most likely written using IBM's SEU. The problem is, Dreamweaver doesn't know how to communicate with the iSeries, Roytman says. "With Dreamweaver, you have to have a copy of the file on a PC. That's an extra step. Also, when you're dealing with a source URL, it won't always get the same relative URL," he says. "That's something else to manage; whereas our tool does that for you."

Profound Logic's RPG editor for RPGsp is RPG Alive GUI, the kicker to the original host-based RPG Alive and Profound Logic's Windows-based alternative to IBM's Code/400. The new RPG Alive GUI provides many of the features that the 500 users of RPG Alive have come to appreciate, including source code indenting, syntax checking, code prompting, color-coded outlining, an interactive compiler, and more. For RPGsp, Profound Logic added a drag-and-drop HTML editor to RPG Alive GUI.

Roytman also points to RPGsp's interactive compiler as an important feature. Users can compile and debug at any time during the process, and RPG Alive GUI will take the programmer directly to the spot of the error, a handy feature that is also found in Code/400. Also, because the product uses precompiled CGI logic, compiling RPGsp programs is extremely fast, taking only a minute or two, Roytman says. At runtime, RPGsp's reliance on RPG-based CGI data retrieval techniques also ensures a very fast response time, he says. "They don't have to know anything about the specifics of CGI programming" to use RPGsp, Roytman says.

Companies that are heavily invested in RPG and want to write new Web applications, or extend existing OS/400 applications to the Web, are the best RPGsp candidates, says Conlon. The product doesn't feature automatic page-generation capabilities offered in many screen-scrapers, so it's not an ideal tool to use if the user just wants to get his application screens up on the Web fast. Companies going down the Java road would probably not see much use for this, either, he says.

"Our customers are shops whose primary expertise is RPG and they want to start creating Web applications," Conlon says. "With our tool, RPG programmers don't have to learn a scripting language or Java. They have to figure out how to do some HTML, but little actual code is written."

Dayton, Ohio, based Profound Logic will be demonstrating RPGsp and RPG Alive GUI at COMMON this week. RPG Alive GUI is available now, and RPGsp should start shipping in about two weeks. A license for RPGsp includes both development and runtime components. Pricing for RPGsp is tier-based and ranges from $4,000 to $35,000. Pricing for RPG Alive GUI ranges from $1,000 to $5,000. For more information, go to

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News Briefs and Product Shorts

Alex Woodie

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