Volume 20, Number 23 -- June 27, 2011

RPG Summit to Emphasize Mobile Apps this Fall

Published: June 27, 2011

by Dan Burger

Mobile applications are a hot topic today and looking like an even hotter topic next week, next month, and into the foreseeable future. A good indicator of that is the attention given to this topic at the upcoming RPG and DB2 Summit, the bi-annual conference that emphasizes modern IBM i development topics. It was just announced last week that the fall Summit would take place October 17 through 19 in St. Louis, Missouri.

"The first time we did a session on mobile computing maybe seven or eight people sat in on it," says Paul Tuohy, one of the principle educators at System i Developer, the company that organizes the Summit. There were between 25 and 30 people in the same session at the last conference. That was sort of a flag showing us there's a growing interest in mobile applications."

Beyond that, Tuohy says the other members of the SiD staff--which included Susan Gantner, Jon Paris, and Skip Marchesani--all believe this will be a key topic in the next five years.

"I think the biggest issue is the thing about iPads-iPhones versus all the rest," Tuohy says. "I look at anything on Mac as proprietary, so if you want to develop for Apple iPad, you buy the specific development software. On the other side is the Android stuff, which is open source. In general, if you are developing for internal use, you can choose one or the other, but if you are building something for a wider audience you should cover both systems."

"We are not trying to get down to the absolute nitty-gritty of developing apps from start to finish. We are taking this subject to a higher level and discussing what's involved in doing this type of development. We want to get to discussions about the differences and similarities between development that is familiar to most and development for mobile applications. There is a surprising commonality between creating modern Web applications and creating mobile applications."

Being able to cut through the hype of new technologies and provide sensible advice on various options so attendees can immediately be productive immediately in their work environments has been a benefit that is frequently noted by the System i Developer folks.

Bob McNally, an IT project leader at a Fortune 150 automotive supplier, discussed the productivity boosting topic with me in an email exchange last week. His first experience at the Summit was in March.

"The impetus for me attending was a project for our global finance group," McNally says. "The project required the purchase of a new server running IBM i 7.1. The company's current servers are running V5R4. While we had read about improvements to the OS, none of us had any experience with it nor knew anybody in another company who did. My task was to learn as much as possible about the database and SQL enhancements made to the new OS."

McNally described the project as an "all hands on deck" affair. From the IT group, it involved the CIO, director of corporate applications, department project manager, three project leaders, four developers, and an outside contractor. From the user community, it involved a finance VP and several directors and managers. He estimated the number of users worldwide to be more than 200. The requirements gathering and initial design started in June 2010. Development started in December 2010 with the pilot starting in June 2011.

The application was developed using a combination of technologies from IBM. The primary screens were written using the PHP programming language and related runtime from Zend Technologies. All reports were developed using the latest version of DB2 Web Query over SQL stored procedures.

"The knowledge I gained at the Summit was put into practice the day I returned," McNally says. "In one specific example, I assisted one of our developers with an SQL program that was taking too long to run. I gave him some examples of what I learned that week, and he was able to reduce the number of lines of code in his program and reduce the run time from 10 minutes to 30 seconds."

Beyond the sessions on mobile applications, session topics on the Summit agenda will include using SQL with DB2 and RPG, Web programming, Web services, ILE and modular programming, modern development tools, and optimizing database and SQL performance. A detailed session grid will be added to the System i Developer website in the coming weeks.

In addition to the SiD instructors, the guest instructor list includes well-known speakers Scott Klement, Mike Cain, Kent Milligan, and Barbara Morris.

In addition to the Summit session schedule, there are optional half-day headstart seminars on Sunday, October 16. Those session titles are: Almost Everything You Need to Know About SQL; Intro to XML; Web Services for RPGers; and Stored Procedures, Functions and Triggers.

Registration information can be found at


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