IBM Considers Offering Trials of RPG OA
May 25, 2010 Alex Woodie
To say that RPG programmers are excited about the new Rational Open Access: RPG Edition feature that IBM released with i/OS 7.1 last month would be like saying Padres all-star first basemen Adrian Gonzalez has an OK swing. But despite the (mostly) positive vibes, some RPG gurus are miffed at the fact that IBM does not provide trial copies of RPG OA. The good news is IBM has heard the complaints, and is considering doing something about it.
RPG programmers and System i developers of all stripes were elated with the introduction of RPG OA with i/OS 7.1. Finally, IBM was giving developers the tools to build new interfaces–including GUIs as well as application and data interfaces–that did not somehow depend on the 5250 datastream, which is as efficient and uncluttered as it is spartan and inflexible.
RPG OA dominated people’s interest at the recent COMMON conference, where several sessions on RPG OA had to be re-run because too many people tried to cram into the rooms. The booths of vendors looksoftware and Profound Logic–who have taken an early lead in the development of the I/O “handlers” that System i shops will need to take advantage of RPG OA–were mobbed by COMMON-goers eager for information on RPG OA. It’s fair to say that RPG OA was one of the major reasons for the return of optimism at the Orlando, Florida, show.
While there has been near universal praise for RPG OA (BCD Software and LANSA held a joint press conference to question the necessity of the technology), some System i types were upset that IBM didn’t do something it normally might do in such a situation: Offer trial copies of the new technology so potential users can familiarize themselves with it and see if it’s something they are interested in investing more time and money in.
Two RPG gurus, Schadd Gray of ProData Computer Services and Aaron Bartell of Krengel Technology, grumbled aloud at COMMON about why IBM didn’t offer trial copies. Instead, they are forced to purchase the software to familiarize themselves with it and explore its possibilities. With so many open source development tools available on the Web with just a few clicks of the mouse, restricting access to a potentially game-changing technology just didn’t seem to make any sense.
It is true that IBM often offers trial copies of software, particularly development tools. It offers trials of its Rational Developer for Power Systems Software (RDP), its primary Eclipse-based development environment for i/OS and AIX applications, as well as Rational Team Concert for Power Systems Software, its change management software. It also gives away a scaled-down version of the Web 2.0 development components of its EGL suite, called EGL Community Edition.
For some reason, IBM did not offer a trial of RPG OA at the time of general availability of i/OS 7.1. Some have speculated that the reason for this was an IBMer in the Toronto lab simply missed the deadline for submitting the proper paperwork to have RPG OA included in the trial software programs for the next 12 months. Others have put forward different theories.
Whatever the reason, it appears that IBM is looking to do something about it. IBM’s Scott Searle, the marketing program director for Rational, issued this statement over the lack of a trial version of RPG OA: “We recognize this as a concern and are looking at ways to address this, but we do not have anything to announce at this time.”
If and when IBM changes its mind and decided to include RPG OA in its trial software program, IT Jungle will bring you the news. In the meantime, interested parties should continue to monitor RPG OA to see if it’s worth the several hundred dollars it costs to get a license on a small development box.