Volume 21, Number 1 -- January 9, 2012

IBM Delivers Open Source Version of EGL Tools

Published: January 9, 2012

by Alex Woodie

IBM in December announced the release of Eclipse EGL Web Developer Tools (EWDT) version 0.7, the first open source version of its EGL development tool. The new tool builds on the free EGL Community Edition software that IBM put out in 2008 and gives IBM i shops another option for developing rich Web applications that run on the IBM i operating system and can access RPG logic.

IBM's decision to make much (but not all) of its EGL tooling open source should not come as a big surprise to anybody who has followed IBM's activities over the last few years as it pertains to the Enterprise Generation Language, a high-level fourth generation language (4GL) that outputs Enterprise Java as well as JavaScript, HTML, and other Web-oriented languages.

At the June 2010 Rational user conference, IBM announced its intention to make EGL open source and published the proposal it made to Eclipse. The open source EGL project officially got off the ground in August 2010, with the first contribution made by IBM developers in December 2010.

It took another year for IBM to create its first open source deliverable, EWST 0.7. The tool is very similar to the Rational EGL Community Edition tool, according to Will Smythe, a product line manager for EGL and related tools at IBM Rational. However, there are some key differences, as Smythe explains in a recent post to the EGL blog.

"Both are designed to support web app development (EGL-generated JavaScript for the front-end and EGL-generated Java for the back-end)," Smythe writes. "EWDT, however, is open source, whereas CE was not (IBM did not provide the source for it). CE also does not include many of the features that were introduced in RBD version 8 (e.g. grid layout). EWDT can also be extended much more easily by other vendors than CE. I definitely recommend you use EWDT over CE at this point. In the near future, we will discontinue CE and point people to EWDT."

The new EWST tool will have some of the new features that IBM introduced in Rational Business Developer (RDB) version 8.0.1, and will also include new capabilities, such as an IDE Test Server, which Smythe says "greatly simplifies and speeds up development and test of services all from within the IDE."

EWDT doesn't support generation of COBOL code, which is a feature that IBM has sold in EGL RBD, which is not free. Plans could change, but currently there is no plan to include a COBOL generator in EWDT, Smythe says.

The good news for the IBM i community is that there is nothing stopping developers from writing an RPG generation add-on to EWDT and making it available to the open source community. "Because the EGL compiler and generator framework is open source, anybody (with the right skills) could build an RPG or COBOL generator," Smythe writes.

The good news continues: "In the very near future (possibly 0.8), support for calling RPG programs will be added to the Eclipse EWDT," Smythe writes. "This will enable i shops to call existing RPG logic from an EGL service or web UI. Of course, if you already have RPG (or COBOL) logic exposed as an XML or JSON service, you can drive this with the tools in version 0.7 already."

For more information or to download the new EWDT tool, see


Open Source EGL Means an RPG Generator Is Possible

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IBM Adds 'Rich UI' Design Tool to Rational Business Developer

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EGL: The Future of Programming for the System i?

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