BCD Hooks Up With ARCAD To Manage Web Development On IBM i
October 7, 2013 Alex Woodie
Native RPG development on the IBM i server was largely tamed long ago by change management and application lifecycle management (ALM) tools. But as IBM i shops extend their RPG investments with new Web-based front-ends written in languages like HTML, PHP, and CSS, cracks have emerged in that ALM wall. Last week, Business Computer Design Int’l. and ARCAD Software announced a partnership that aims at closing some of those gaps for BCD’s WebSmart users.
The partnership between BCD and ARCAD will see the two companies working to integrate their respective tools, namely BCD’s WebSmart development environment–including the ILE CGI and the PHP versions–and Skipper, the flagship components of ARCAD’s ALM suite.
The first stage of integration has already been delivered with Skipper version 9.3, which shipped earlier this year. With this release, ARCAD is able to manage not just the RPG components that exist within the WebSmart apps, but the Web-facing and database components as well.
As BCD product manager Marcel Sarrasin explains, the new capabilities give WebSmart customers more options and capabilities when it comes to managing their code.
“We’ve always offered just a very basic level of just change management, just the RPG source code by itself,” Sarrasin tells IT Jungle. “What we’ve never done, and what ARCAD offers, is the ability to also include your database files as part of the change management cycle, as well as your CSS files–all the other objects or components that make up an application.”
Applications are not static entities, even those running on so-called “legacy” platforms like IBM i. The capability to get more of a Web-based IBM i application under management is a good thing. “This is a big part of the development lifecycle,” Sarrasin continues. “If you change your database file, what other components need to get recompiled? We didn’t have a solution for that. With ARCAD, now that’s all part of the lifecycle management of the application, because there are so many more components to Web applications.”
Managing the database components is critical, says ARCAD CEO Philippe Magne. “Automatic recompilation of dependent components is especially valuable in the case of database upgrades,” he says. “Changes in database structure are a tough challenge in most modernization projects, and ARCAD simplifies the whole process, while ensuring the integrity of the delivered application.”
ARCAD welcomed the opportunity to work with BCD, which is one of the biggest providers of modernization and Web development tools for the IBM i platform, with thousands of customers. ARCAD has seen its fortunes improve since it decided to embrace IBM‘s Rational Team Concert (RTC) product. Today, IBM resells ARCAD’s tools through the Rational Power Pack offering, which is aimed primarily at users of the Eclipse-based Rational Development for i (RDi) IDE, for RPG, COBOL, and Java development on the platform.
Magne says the integration will allow BCD customers to manage the development cycle from the WebSmart IDE screens, while ARCAD keeps track of things in the background. “They can have one single tool to manage the BCD development along with PHP development and native RPG development as well, and have one single process to transfer code into test and into production,” Magne said last week in a phone interview from France.
Deploying objects to production IBM i servers is the other important aspect of the integration work and the partnership. According to Sarrasin, BCD didn’t provide a way for customers to deploy WebSmart components to more than one server. With ARCAD handling deployment, WebSmart customers now have more powerful and feature-rich deployment capabilities at their disposal.
WebSmart supports the capability to run PHP applications on Linux and Windows servers as well. ARCAD also supports other platforms, and there’s no reason why joint customers can’t use ARCAD’s tools to deploy the Web server layer of Web-enabled IBM i applications to Windows or Linux. The vast majority of WebSmart customers keep their environments on IBM i, but it’s always good to have options.
The two companies are already working on additional integration points. For example, customers may be able to open the WebSmart IDE directly from their ARCAD screens in the future. This would make it easier to make changes to the code from the ALM environment.
ARCAD and BCD will host webinars next month discussing the integration in more detail. Stay tuned to Four Hundred Monitor for news on when those webinars will take place.