Open Source EGL Means an RPG Generator Is Possible
June 14, 2010 Alex Woodie
Under the proposal submitted last week, which you can read here on the Eclipse Web site, IBM intends to place all of the software currently distributed as the EGL Community Edition under the Eclipse open source license. EGL Community Edition, of course, is the free version of the EGL language that IBM delivered last summer to drive interest in EGL among Web developers, hobbyists, and students who would otherwise use other easily attainable tools, such as PHP and Ruby on Rails.
IBM won’t be putting all of EGL Rational Business Developer, its primary integrated development environment (IDE) for EGL, into the open source realm. But it’s pretty close. Essentially, everything but the generators for COBOL and Java Server Faces (JSF) will be made freely available.
“We’re actually putting a big chunk of [RBD] into the Eclipse project,” says Will Smythe, a product line manager in charge of EGL and related tools in IBM’s Rational division. “We’re going to do a lot of our EGL development going forward out of Eclipse.”
IBM expects the move to drive more adoption of EGL by developers who were hesitant to adopt a proprietary language. “We’ve heard lots of feedback over the last couple of years. Customers say ‘We like the technology. The technology is great for our business,'” Smythe says. “But a lot of customers have reservations about adopting a proprietary, single-vendor-controlled language. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that concern. I would have that same exact concern if I was out there evaluating what technology I was going to use.”
“That’s one of the major reasons we’re doing this,” Smythe continues. “Secondarily, we hope to start involving existing partners, as well as getting new partners and other third parties, involved in the technology, and actually contributing into the project.”
New code generators for RPG and Microsoft languages, including C, C++, and C#, are among the possible EGL contributions that could come from the open source community. Smythe was frank that IBM would likely never create an RPG generator for EGL, but listed that among the possible results of making EGL open source. “We certainly know there’s interest in something like that, and it’s certainly possible that somebody could come along and build an RPG generator for EGL. That’s the whole idea,” he says.
So far IBM has attracted seven partners to participate in open source EGL. The list includes ASIST of Belgium; Xact Consulting of Denmark; FBDA of Canada; PKS Software of Germany; ClearBlade of Texas; Synchrony Systems of California; and Nextel Engineering of Spain. Tim Wilson, IBM’s chief architect for EGL, will be in charge of the open source project.
“We have a lot of really good EGL partners out there that have been building tools with the technology, cobbling things together using the APIs we provide today,” Smythe says. “They’re going to start putting some of these components out there in open source, and it’s just going to increase the value of the technology for everybody.”
In addition to the EGL source code, IBM will be contributing its EGL documentation to the EGL project at Eclipse. This will make it even easier for participants to build existing tools and generators on top of the EGL framework. IBM will continue to offer RBD to enterprise customers who demand technical support and fast response to fix requests. But it’s unlikely that open source EGL will not have at least some impact on sales of RBD–especially if some enterprising developers create open source generators for COBOL and JSF, the two EGL elements that IBM is leaving out of the open source project.
EGL is not open source yet. The first step, submitting the proposal to Eclipse, will be followed with about two months of administrative work and getting the code ready for open source. Smythe expects downloads for the EGL code to be ready by September.
For more information you can visit IBM’s EGL Café at www-949.ibm.com/software/rational/cafe/community/egl/open.