Profound to Resell RPG Open Access for IBM
May 10, 2011 Alex Woodie
Profound Logic is reselling IBM‘s Rational Open Access: RPG Edition software with its own suite of Web modernization tools for IBM i, the company announced at the COMMON conference in Minneapolis last week. The move, which coincides with the launch of Profound UI 3.0, will make it easier for IBM i customers to obtain the RPG feature, which IBM has sold as a separately licensable product since delivering it with IBM i 7.1 last year.
IBM has come under some criticism for how it distributes RPG Open Access, which has been widely hailed as one of the most revolutionary new capabilities added to the RPG language in years. The technology was developed to provide ISVs and advanced developers an RPG-centric mechanism for creating new Web and mobile user interfaces, database connections, and integration points in XML and Web services protocols.
However, instead of including the RPG Open Access keyword as a feature in RPG, IBM decided to make it a separate product, which starts at about $500 on the smallest Power Systems box. When combined with the fact that most IBM i shops would require the services of an ISV to create the I/O handlers needed to utilize RPG Open Access, the distribution mechanism and extra cost was seen as an extra step that could dampen uptake of the new software.
Profound Logic, which was one of three IBM i application modernization vendors to commit to developing an I/O handler–and the first vendor to actually deliver an I/O handler last April–has solved part of the problem by becoming IBM’s first RPG Open Access reseller. IBM i shops can now order Rational Open Access directly from Profound when they order Profound UI, and begin work on their modernization project immediately.
Profound CEO Alex Roytman said selling RPG Open Access directly to customers as part of an I/O handler deal makes the whole process more convenient. Ordering RPG Open Access off IBM’s website proved problematic, and some IBM representatives didn’t even know what RPG Open Access was, or how customers should go about ordering it, he said. In a perfect world, RPG Open Access would be included, free, as part of the Rational Developer for Power development tool, Roytman said at a press conference in Minneapolis. “Why should they charge for a keyword?”
Profound also announced the release of Profound UI 3.0, which includes 850 fixes and enhancements, the company says. Better integration between the six modules that make up the suite–including Visual Designer, the I/O handler, the Genie refacing module, DDS Conversion, the Atrium portal, and the RPG Open Access preprocessor–will make it easier for customers to get started with modernization projects.
Customers will be able to begin publishing their most important IBM i screens that have been modernized with the tool before finishing the entire project, Roytman says. In prior releases, customers had to complete more of the project before they began publishing screens, but now they can take a much more piecemeal approach that allows them to see the benefits of their re-development efforts before the project is completed.
Better integration between the three modernization approaches in Profound UI will yield more cohesive applications in the end, the company says. Profound offers three main methods of creating GUIs in its suite. At the bottom is the refacing tool, Genie, which provides a quick and dirty “screenscraper” approach that converts 5250 screens into Web interfaces on the fly. In the middle is the DDS Conversion module, which requires more work than Genie, since it converts screens at the DDS source level, but generates more functional screens and powerful screens. Customers can also do brand-new Web app development in Profound UI using the Visual Designer and the I/O handler. This provides the most compelling AJAX-based Web 2.0 screens in the end.
Better integration in Profound UI allows customers to run all three types of these programs–refaced, DDS converted, and new programs–within the same session, including sharing library lists, and calling programs.
“There are many uses for this,” Profound product development manager David Russo said in a press release. “For example, customers that modernize their RPG code to a rich UI can still call system screens, such as ‘Work with Spooled Files,’ even though they have no source code for these screens. On the flip side, some customers will choose to quickly reface their applications, and modernize only the heavily used screens at the code level.”
Profound UI 3.0 includes several other enhancements, including drag-and-drop support in Visual Designer’s grid. The company also includes several new widgets with the product, including Google Maps, slider bars, and custom panels. Profound added support for dozens of new DDS keywords, such as RTNDTA, EDTWRD, and SFLSCROLL. It also included new iPad and iPhone emulators, allowing developers to see how converted screens will be rendered on mobile devices from the development environment.
Refacing speed has been dramatically improved with Profound UI 3.0, thanks to a rewrite of the backend conversion engine in C. Support for single sign-on within the Atrium application portal will simplify life for users. And the capability to call PC applications from refaced, converted, and new screens will add a number of new integration capabilities.
Profound UI 3.0 is expected to be generally available in about a week. For more information, see www.profoundlogic.com.