Free Format RPG Is Here with TR7, Context Checking Still to Come
November 19, 2013 Alex Woodie
As promised, IBM on Friday delivered the latest update of the IBM i OS, dubbed version 7.1 Technology Refresh 7. The TR7 release brings free format coding to RPG, and big data enhancements to DB2/400. RPG programmers can get started writing free format code as soon as they install the compiler, but they’ll have to wait until next year to get free-format syntax checking in RDi.
IBM bundled all the work it did for IBM i 7.1 TR7–including the free format enhancements to the RPG compiler, the Ruby stuff, the SQL pre-compiler, the SQL index expansion, the new database growth tracking, and DDS to SQL migration enhancements–into a database group PTF. Just as US congressmen stuff all kinds of legitimate legislation (and unnatural pork products) into bills that are likely to pass, IBM delivers major OS enhancements and platform upgrades via database updates. You can view the cover letter for database group PTF number MF99007 at this Web link.
It’s worth pointing out that, while IBM has modified the RPG compiler to enable free format RPG coding with TR7, the free format capabilities won’t be fully supported by Rational Developer for i (RDi) development tool until the next major release of RDi in 2014.
That doesn’t mean that users can’t get started coding free format RPG. They can start leaving the brackets and other structural elements off their RPG code immediately, and start coding au natural ASAP. However, the syntax-checking feature in RDi hasn’t been updated yet to support free format, according to IBM. That means unless you turn off syntax checking, it may flag some of your free format RPG.
Don’t take it personally, says Tim Rowe, a business architect at IBM. “You can do it [free format] now with the RDi you have today,” Rowe told IT Jungle last month. “That’s perfectly doable today. The reality is you could do it with the SEU PDM today. It’s just a matter that the pre-compiler verification and syntax checking that’s built into the [RDi] product will tell you you’re stupid until you get the actual update into RDi. RDi will tolerate it for right now. But the full support will be in the next version.”
That next version of RDi is expected to ship in the second quarter of 2013. It’s anybody’s guess what IBM will call it. The smart money is on RDi version 9.1 or 9.2. However, you’ll remember that IBM changes the names of its flagship integrated development environment (IDE) for IBM i like a male hipster changes mustache styles.
For more information on IBM i 7.1 TR7, see announcement letter 213-423.