VAI Looks Forward to RPG Open Access
April 27, 2010 Alex Woodie
As one of only three i/OS software vendors to commit to supporting the new Open Access: RPG Edition technology that IBM added to i/OS 7.1, VAI is part of an exclusive club. And when you consider that VAI is the only application vendor in the group, you understand the strong commitment VAI has to the i/OS platform.
According to VAI CIO Kevin Beasley, the company will begin offering the RPG Open Access “handler” with its S2K suite of ERP software sometime in the fourth quarter of 2010 or the first quarter of 2011. The handler is necessary to enable the RPG Open Access channel and to bypass the 5250 datastream that is normally used for input and output for RPG applications.
VAI plans to use the RPG Open Access technology to generate graphical user interfaces that replace existing 5250 green screens or other GUIs, as well as for interfacing with a variety of data sources, Beasley says via e-mail.
The three key benefits that VAI hopes to obtain by supporting RPG Open Access include: easier integration with other software products; better investment protection in RPG IV applications; and a native path to supporting all of the new and future technology being released, the CIO says.
VAI, like many i/OS ISVs, has experimented with a variety of screenscrapers, programming languages, and Web-enablement technologies over the years. It has been a longtime customer of Seagull Software and its popular JWalk screenscraper. With the most recent version 5.0 release of S2K VAI released a year and a half ago, VAI recommitted to JWalk and rejiggered the look and feel of its ERP screens.
VAI has also walked down the Java path. It wrote Java Web portlets to run under IBM‘s WebSphere Portal. This was the preferred route for customers to get S2K data on their smart phones, such as the iPhone, although the company has since partnered with a company called Xpedium to develop a .NET-based client for mobile smart phones. VAI also continues to work with LANSA to provide tools for building some S2K components.
VAI CEO Bob Vormittag has been quite supportive of Java in the past. In an interview with IT Jungle less than two years ago, Vormittag said Java was the preferred route for Web development for S2K. He also said VAI was considering a long-term plan to move whole hog from RPG to Java.
Will RPG Open Access change that? We’ll have to wait and see. But considering VAI’s vow to build handlers for RPG Open Access–which is not a trivial or cheap thing to build–one would have to say that VAI’s commitment to the platform has never appeared stronger.