PHP Web Development Gets RPG Summit Spotlight
Published: July 9, 2012
by Dan Burger
When PHP, the Web application development language of millions, was brought into the IBM i community, there was a gag reaction. Not surprising because developers had just recently Java forced down their collective throats during the memorable "Learn Java or learn to flip burgers" era. But as it turned out, PHP has been much easier for RPG developers to swallow and its popularity has continued to grow.
"I think the advent of PHP has had a far greater impact in many ways than anything else (even Java) has done," says Jon Paris, an RPG and IBM i advocate, author, instructor, and innovator. Paris, along with Susan Gantner and Paul Tuohy, make up System i Developer (SiD), the company that twice each year produces the RPG & DB2 Summit, a conference specifically for IBM i developers. PHP happens to be the featured topic at the next Summit, which is scheduled for October 23 through 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It gets a dedicated one-day workshop in advance of the conference as well as being mixed in with the Web programming lineup during the Summit sessions.
Paris appreciates PHP because he finds it "achievable" for RPG programmers.
"There is an incredible amount of good, free information out there--not to mention the books, on-line classes, and so on," Paris writes in an email to IT Jungle. "That is a rather different story than for the free RPG offerings in the same arena. It is also possible to hire young experienced programmers and to get help mentoring existing staff to bring them up to speed."
A prime example of this is Corvette America, a manufacturer and distributor of parts for the iconic American sports car.
The Corvette America staff attended the March 2011 Summit in Orlando, Florida, unsure of its Web development direction. Discussions with several instructors took place and a decision on PHP was made. After the conference, Paris and Gantner worked with the Corvette America staff and introduced them to PHP instructor John Valence at Zend Technologies, who mentored them through their first project. A case study on the Corvette America PHP project can be found here.
Paris, who was recognized last year as an IBM Champion for Power Systems, has also become an advocate of open source software.
"The session I run at Summit (and other events) called 'Fast Free' is one of the most popular sessions I do," he says. "After the event, I always get emails thanking me and telling me how useful the software has been in their shops. Recently I have been doing a version of this session under the title 'Be a Hero to Your Users," which encourages people to use software like this to convince users and management that the IBM i is a real player in the modern world. Having been introduced to this during a session at the last Summit, one attendee went home armed with the basic tools to complete a new mission that she had been convinced would not be doable on IBM i."
In addition to the PHP instruction, topics on the Summit agenda will include sessions on mobile applications, using SQL with DB2 and RPG, Web programming, RPG ILE and modular programming, modern development tools, and optimizing database and SQL performance. A detailed session grid (80 to 90 percent complete) is available online.
The SiD instructors are backed up by a strong roster of guest trainers including well-known speakers Scott Klement, Aaron Bartell, Mike Cain, Kent Milligan, and Barbara Morris.
Registration information for the event can be found here. An early registration discount is available through the end of August. Summit alumni (those who have attended the event in the past) are also eligible for registration discounts. Typically the Summit attendance includes approximately 25 percent alumni.
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