Profound Brings RPG:OA-Like Features to V5R3 and V5R4
May 11, 2010 Alex Woodie
Profound Logic extended its lead in the young field of Rational Open Access: RPG Edition enablement last week with several announcements at the COMMON conference in Orlando, Florida. One of the most promising is a new “preprocessor” tool that will allow users of i5/OS V5R3 and V5R4 to get started with RPG OA development via the Profound UI tool. The software vendor also unveiled a new DDS conversion tool designed to help with modernizing existing RPG code, as opposed to developing new applications with RPG:OA.
RPG Open Access is easily the most popular component of IBM‘s recent i/OS 7.1 announcement. The technology, which allows RPG programs to output data without the limitations of the 5250 datastream, is the closest thing to a “native GUI” that the platform has ever had. Many System i advocates have been asking for something like RPG:OA for many years, so they are understandably thrilled to finally have it. COMMON attendees swarmed to sessions and demonstrations of RPG:OA technologies during last week’s show, which demonstrates a very high level of interest.
But OS adoption remains a big hurdle to RPG:OA. While IBM has made RPG:OA compatible with i/OS 6.1, an estimated 75 percent of the System i installed base is still on version 5 releases of the i5/OS operating system. The slow uptake of i/OS 6.1–a landmark release that required “program conversion”–is a concern for IBM for a variety of reasons. And while RPG:OA provides a big incentive for System i shops to make the jump to 6.1 or even all the way to 7.1, RPG:OA remains out of reach of the vast majority of the 140,000 organizations (a newly released IBM number) that use the platform worldwide.
That is why Profound Logic developed what it calls an RPG Preprocessor for Profound UI, its I/O “handler” offering unveiled just three weeks ago to enable System i shops to work with the new RPG:OA feature of i/OS. With the Profound UI RPG Preprocessor, the company says System i shops running i5/OS V5R3 and V5R4 can hook up their RPG output to Profound UI, and start taking advantage of RPG:OA.
Profound says the RPG Preprocessor offers functionality that is “similar” to RPG:OA. At a high level, it mimics the changes to I/O that compiling with the RPG:OA features brings to RPG programs. For all intents and purposes, it works the same way as RPG:OA, Profound CEO Alex Roytman said during a press conference last week at COMMON.
Profound gave customers two options for working with the RPG Preprocessor. They can either make use of “alternative compile commands” included with Profound UI to enable the RPG:OA-like functionality. Or they can invoke the RPG Preprocessor using exit points.
In either case, the RPG Preprocessor will do the following, according to Profound. First it will create a temporary copy of the original source code. Then it will replace all display file operations with alternated codes that package the necessary RPG data and pass it to the Profound UI I/O handler. Finally it will call the RPG compiler to finish the job.
Profound says System i shops that adopt its RPG Preprocessor will be able to move their work into RPG:OA once they upgrade to i/OS 6.1 The company is charging the same amount for its RPG Preprocessor as IBM does for RPG:OA. Profound also says its RPG Preprocessor provides an easy way to trial the RPG:OA functions; IBM does not offer a trial version of RPG:OA.
Profound made another big RPG:OA-related announcement during last week’s COMMON show in addition to its new RPG Preprocessor: a new DDS Conversion module of Profound UI.
Currently still in beta, the new DDS Conversion offering will provide an automated way for System i shops to convert green-screen display files into GUI screens. Organizations can use this tool to bypass the 5250 datastream in their existing applications, and get started with the “rich UI” functionality offered with Profound UI.
DDS Conversion requires small changes to be made to RPG source code; customers must add the HANDLER keyword to their RPG programs, which, in any event, is required of all RPG programs that undergo modification with RPG:OA.
Profound’s DDS Conversion offering works on only one screen at a time. Customers that require conversions of multiple screens can contract with Profound Logic to provide a mass conversion service.
It’s no secret that Profound is betting on RPG:OA in a big way. The vendor so far is the only ISV to make an RPG:OA handler generally available. Interest in RPG:OA and Profound’s approach was so high at last week’s COMMON that Roytman was asked to present an additional session on its Profound UI technology.
“I am overwhelmed and flattered by the outstanding response to Profound UI,” Roytman said via press release. “So many people in the community are congratulating us for delivering what they say is the most significant enhancement to the platform in the entire history of the AS/400.”
But Wait, Profound Has More
As if the new DDS Conversion and RPG Preprocessors wasn’t enough product news for one show, Profound had still more RPG:OA-related news to announce at last week’s COMMON.
The Dayton, Ohio, company announced that it has integrated Genie, its on-the-fly Web-enablement offering for System i applications, into Profound UI. Also getting hooks into Profound UI is Atrium, Profound’s portal that provides a menu and deployment structure, as well as stronger application security for Web-enabled 5250 apps.
Last but not least, Profound unveiled a new “microsite” for all of its new RPG:OA gear: www.profoundui.com.