RPG Gets Mixed Up in EGL Jam
February 3, 2009 Alex Woodie
Will EGL generate RPG? That was one of the requests that trickled out of the EGL Jam, the ongoing online brainstorming session IBM started last month to stir up ideas from users about where to take the fourth-generation language. While there have been several requests recently to have EGL generate RPG as well as COBOL and Java, the decision to go in that direction has not been made yet, according to one an IBM-Rational program director involved in the Jam, which will continue through the week.
The EGL Jam so far has been a big success and is helping to generate many good ideas that will be analyzed in the coming months, says Scott Searle, an IBM program director for Rational enterprise modernization products.
“There are many ideas that are coming in for the team to consider–some that fit with the direction they wanted to go in, and I’m sure some that some that didn’t,” Searle says. “It’s interesting how many people really care about providing feedback, giving guidance, making a difference.”
At last count, nearly 80 ideas have been submitted by dozens of very active users as part of the EGL Jam, which was originally slated to end last week but which was extended by IBM. You can view the ideas and comments by other users, or post your own ideas (all you need is a valid IBM ID) at IBM’s EGL Café Web site at www-949.ibm.com/software/rational/cafe/community/egl.
While most of the EGL ideas came from the zSeries mainframe side of the house–where EGL has been running for years–there were also ideas from users of the IBM i OS, which has supported EGL for just a couple of years.
Considering that the vast majority of IBM i applications were written in RPG, the lack of RPG support in EGL has caused System i shops to question the value that EGL could provide to them. But if EGL could generate RPG alongside Java and COBOL, that might shift the equation on some programming decisions.
“I wouldn’t be a bit surprised that we’d have people who’d love to have EGL spit out RPG code,” Searle says. “And that’s been a request that’s come in periodically. We haven’t gotten enough critical mass behind it to justify it yet. But if there were more interest in the i space, that might be something we’d think about.”
In other words, if you ask for RPG support in EGL, you just might receive it.
If the whole concept of a nimble IBM utilizing Web 2.0 techniques to reach out to customers and solicit their feedback has you questioning who this Big Blue really is anyway, then you are not be alone. The whole Jam approach to customer outreach is fairly new to IBM, having been utilized externally only once, in 2007.
But the Jam approach is adhered to quite strictly within IBM. In fact, IBM has had jams where upwards of 50,000 employees participated at the direction of chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano. These jams often tackle serious topics, like the core values of the company.
“The concept is pretty well ingrained in IBM’s psyche,” Searle says. “And now we’re reaching out to customers and seeking their honest and open feedback.”
IBMers Todd Britton, an engineering director with Rational, and Kou-Meilu, the “godmother” of the three Rational café’s, will be in charge of parsing through the ideas generated by the Jam and working with product managers to see if they can be incorporated into products, Searle says.
In the meantime, don’t be surprised if the success of the EGL Jam spreads to other areas of IBM, and customers of other products, such as WebSphere or Information Manager, are asked to submit their feedback over the Web. The company may be a behemoth, but good ideas just have a way of spreading fast.