IBM Delivers New Mobile Development Tooling With RDi 9.0
June 24, 2013 Alex Woodie
IBM is now shipping Rational Developer for i (RDi), the name of the once-and-current flagship development tool for writing RPG, COBOL, Java, and C apps for IBM i. The product, which replaces Rational Developer for Power Systems (RDp), was officially unveiled by IBM two months ago. Chief among the new capabilities is support for Worklight Studio, which brings hybrid mobile application development capabilities to the IBM i platform.
IBM has, once again, reshuffled the deck of cards (some say nested set of Russian dolls) that is its Rational development tool collection. On June 14, it began shipping a broad new set of Rational version 9.0 products, including RDi 9.0, which is the follow-on to the old RDp 8.5 product.
Astute readers will notice that this is the second time that the core integrated development environment (IDE) for the IBM i platform has been called RDi. That was the name IBM gave the product way back in 2008 with the version 8.0 release of the tools, which replaced the set of tools sold under the WebSphere Development Studio Client (WDSc) name. (Actually, the first RDi product was officially called Rational Developer for System i. IBM hasn’t yet completely Blue-washed the System i name from existence, but System i is not used here in any event.)
Just like RDp (and WDSc and the first RDi that came before it), RDi 9.0 presents developers with an Eclipse-based IDE for writing IBM i apps. It provides a set of key capabilities, including access to Remote Systems Explorer (RSE); language aware editors and refactoring agents; debuggers for multi-threaded applications; and application analysis tools. RDi 9.0, of course, does not provide compilers. To get the RPG, COBOL, and C++ compilers to compile an application to the IBM i operating system, developers will look for Rational Development Studio for i (a name that hasn’t changed recently, and a product that typically ships with the IBM i).
A Rainbow of Flavors
RDi 9.0 comes in three editions:
RPG and COBOL Tools Edition: This is the basic edition of the software that lets developers program in languages including RPG, COBOL, C, C++, CL, DDS, and SQL. This offering replaces the product that was previously called RDp RPG and COBOL Development Tools for i, and gives the typical green-screen IBM i coder most of what he or she needs to develop and maintain applications.
RPG and COBOL + Modernization Tools, Java Edition: This is the new name for the version of RDp that previously was called RDp Power Tools for i. This product includes everything in the basic toolbox, and adds to it a “rich subset” of the capabilities found in Rational Application Developer for WebSphere Software 9.0, including the latest version of the WebSphere Application Server Liberty profile. It also includes the Worklight Studio and Data Studio products (see below). Customers of the old Power Tools for i product get a free entitlement upgrade to the version 9 release of this product.
RPG and COBOL + Modernization Tools, EGL Edition 9.0: This edition includes everything in RPG and COBOL Tools edition, plus Rational Business Developer 9.0, which provides the editor for writing code in IBM’s 4GL, Enterprise Generation Language (EGL). Customers who previously used the product RDi for SOA Construction get a free entitlement to this product. The Host Access Transformation Services (HATS) Toolkit that was previously a part of RDi for SOA is now available as a free download from IBM.
Worklight on IBM i
One of the biggest pieces of news with the launch of version 9 of the product (besides the product naming) is the inclusion of IBM Worklight Studio in both the Java and EGL editions. According to IBM, Worklight Studio will help developers to create multi-tier, hybrid mobile applications that can integrate with backend applications running on IBM i.
Worklight is a mobile application framework for creating and running HTML5, hybrid, and native apps on smartphones and tablets. It includes an Eclipse-based development tool, a Java-based server component, a device management console, and various connectors for hooking into backend systems. The fact that IBM i developers can now use Worklight Studio–something that in February we hinted might be coming–is definitely a good thing.
The Java and EGL editions of RDi also includes IBM Data Studio 4.1. This product provides database developers and administrators with an integrated environment for developing and administering DB2 for i (DB2/400) databases. It also provides collaborative database development tools across all of IBM’s DB2 databases, (i, z, and LUW) as well as Informix.
Developers will find other things in the RPG and COBOL + Modernization Tools, Java Edition, including some of the features found in Rational Application Developer for WebSphere Software 9.0. This includes stuff like support for the latest version of the WebSphere Application Server (WAS) Liberty profile (a simplified lightweight runtime for web and OSGi applications), and enhancements to tools for developing Web and mobile web application front ends.
IBM has reportedly bolstered some of the core capabilities in RDi, such as enhancing the Live Outline view feature that was added with last year’s release of RDp 8.5. Developers can also take advantage of additional Live Outline features, such as the “fly-over” and “hyperlink” features, which allow developers to hover over a variable and see the definition support, or be taken directly to an area of code by holding down the “Control” button and clicking the mouse button.
IBM shuffled all of its other Rational tools with this release, including the version 9.0 releases of RBD and RAD for WebSphere Software. IBM also delivered Rational Developer for AIX and Linux, which are available in C/C++ and AIX COBOL editions (previously, AIX and Linux application development capabilities were delivered as a subset of RDp). IBM also shipped a new release of Rational Developer for System z, and rolled out a new product called Rational Developer for the Enterprise that’s the market replacement for Rational Developer for zEnterprise, and which is used for developing COBOL, PL/I, and RPG applications on a variety of backend systems, including z/OS and IBM i.
For more information on the RDi 9.0 products, see IBM software announcement 213-132 (PDF).