New Design Tool Available from looksoftware
August 13, 2013 Dan Burger
If you are an RPG programmer with more than a gallon left in your tank and the idea in your head you’ll be working for the foreseeable future, taking your development skills from green screen to GUI is advisable. Modern RPG skills are not all about a pretty presentation–plenty of architecting is left to be done–but a modern design tool gets you where you need to go. That’s why the latest design tool from looksoftware deserves your attention.
Looksoftware calls its core development IDE newlook, and this is version 10. It’s been four years since look released version 9, which makes this perhaps a little overdue, but the improvements are much more than incremental and that should be noticeable to anyone who is familiar with the previous version. And for companies that are moving from green-screen development to modern RPG and the graphical user interface, this tool is worthy of consideration for several reasons.
Number one is the developer experience. Eamon Musallam, product manager at looksoftware, says the product development team, the executives at look, and the feedback from customers combined to create a product that is “integrated and unified for all the different mobile devices and interfaces” that are important to IBM i modernization projects. That is one of the key elements in this upgrade.
As modernization has become more complex–going from basic screen-scraping of green-screen applications to projects that include more conveniences, greater functionality, composite applications, and multiple devices and screen sizes–it has become a bigger challenge to keep things simple for developers faced with multi-interface development.
“We were setting our own benchmark to make our tools as simple as possible and more simple than they have been. We think that with minimal training a developer can be comfortable working with it,” Musallam says. “We have customers who have been exposed to IBM’s Eclipse-based design tools and Microsoft Visual Studio, but we also contact a lot of companies that are approaching visual design for the first time.”
An example of how newlook 10 is user friendly are the templates that help with general layout tasks and styling features such as fonts, colors, and spacing. In some development environments, these tasks would be accomplished through HTML5 and CSS3 code.
Developers who are accustom to making changes on a screen by screen basis should be happy to find a global rules option that makes selected or specified changes across all screens. And when the development screen is busy with a lot of work going on, newlook 10 allows developers to work outside the screen area to complete design elements–buttons, tabs, and other conveniences–and after they are complete they can be dragged back onto the main screen.
An automatic alignment tool helps make this far easier than making manual adjustments for alignment. Videos, how-to documents, a software development kit, and other technical documents that provide tips and techniques and support materials are embedded within the tool itself.
In an interview with Brendan Kay, CEO at looksoftware, that previewed newlook 10, he described the importance of defeating complexity in application development.
“Simplicity when it is done right leads to productivity. Simplifying complexity means getting to the end goal more quickly,” he said. “And because the designer is working with you, it becomes a more pleasant experience. The tool is not fighting you.”
Kay is a vocal advocate of the IBM midrange platform and his company has hosted three “iBelieve” events during the past 18 months that were intended to bring attention to IBM i platform and showcase its capabilities as a modern IT platform.
“The IBM i is the most cost effective, scalable, and reliable application server on the market,” he said at the first iBelieve event. “We meet many hundreds of people every year who share that belief, but who are unaware of the full extent of the platform’s power. It is our hope that every attendee will leave the event with a deeper appreciation of the platform, and a better understanding of how it can support their business into the future.”
Musallam noted that during the past four years looksoftware has invested in the integration of RPG Open Access into the entire looksoftware product lineup with the idea that RPG OA is a better path for RPG developers to move into modern development and that technology will be boost for the platform going forward.
Current looksoftware customers on maintenance contract can choose to download newlook 10 at any time via the customer portal. There is no charge for that.
For companies in the discovery stage of modern RPG application development, newlook 10, by itself, is the base level of development for the family of looksoftware products that include soarchitect, for developing Web services; openlook, for development using RPG Open Access; and renew, which uses the .NET framework.
Pricing for these products is determined by the number of concurrent developers and the number of concurrent end users.
Looksoftware is hosting a Webinar today (August 13) featuring newlook version 10. Trevor Perry and Nicholas Hampson will discuss the new application design tool, the design environment, and modernization projects during this online presentation that begins at 2 p.m. EDT. Register for the event at www.looksoftware.com.