Reader Feedback On RPG And Java At The Crossroads
December 16, 2013 Timothy Prickett Morgan
In reading your article on open software and the IBM i platform, you said: “One of the faulty labels spray painted on the IBM i is that it’s a bad neighborhood for open source.”
I just spent a very frustrating week trying to figure out how to call a PHP program from an RPG program, so I can understand how people can feel that way. I was able to call the program and pass parameters to it, but the output from the PHP program remained behind some wall in Qshell and was unavailable to the RPG program. So much for ILE. Not very integrated.
All “open” means to me is that IBM does not want to take responsibility for integrating it. “Proprietary” means it works and I can depend on it.
You indicated that IBM is heading toward open. To me that just means we won’t be able to depend on it working and will have to spend a lot of frustrating time playing around with things that have nothing to do with application development, which will be something new for the i and the people that have been writing applications on it.
One of the commonalities between open source and IBM i is the community aspect. You can ask for help and usually find someone who can lend you a hand. I can’t help you with the PHP problem you are having, but there are plenty of PHP on IBM i subject matter experts who can. I know what it’s like to bang my head on the wall trying to get something to work. And I’ve had my troubles within proprietary systems as well as open systems.
Do you belong to a local user group? The LinkedIn groups for IBM i professionals? Here are a couple of names of IBM i people who are experts in PHP: Alan Seiden, email@example.com, 201-447-2437; and Mike Pavlak, firstname.lastname@example.org, 708-233-5880. You could also try Jon Paris at Jon.Paris@Partner400.com
Thanks for taking the time to write. I hope this helps eliminate the problem–a week of tearing your hair out is about four days too long.
I was the treasurer of the local IBM i user group until last June. I am headed to a meeting with the group in a few minutes. I will see if anyone there has tried to access PHP from RPG.
I appreciate your response. I did a lot of Google searches and found a PHP 101 article on how to do it, but the RPGLE code that was attached was not complete and had a lot of missing references that we could not find a definition for. We can output the PHP to a file in the IFS so I will probably just create some batch process to load up the file and then import it back into a DB2 data file so I can read it. I should probably just stick to RPG and forget about trying to access things outside of the box. It is a world that I don’t even come close to relating to.
Our PHP programmer has the same trouble when it comes to the i and RPG.
Thanks for your assistance.
For years I’ve seen so much emphasis on other programmers to learn RPG as to grow the platform. It’s a mistake and I think that’s the reason the platform has been shrinking.
Ask yourself: Is RPG the only i language? Of course not! There are C/C++ available as ILE languages as well, offering all integration features that RPG has.
So, it’s easier for a Java programmer to learn C/C++ on the system and once the system basics are learned, the movement to free format RPG will be very easy.
What about all those C/C++/C# programmers out there? They are a vast base to bring to C/C++ on the System i. And again, once the system basics are learned, the movement to free format RPG will be very easy.
The i community need to offer something more familiar to other platform programmers instead trying to indoctrinate them with the only language they have ever developed.
I always read this type of article with the same interest and perspective that I imagine a construction worker reads an article on the different types of hammers. That is, though it may make for an interesting read, it rarely has much relevance to the real world where most companies care much less about how you swing a hammer than they do about what you’ve done with it in the past. What have you built? What’s your area of expertise? What exactly is your experience?
In other words, as you peruse most IT job postings, you generally find one or two sentences about languages, but paragraphs about specific business, application, network, and infrastructure experience requirements, along with the requisite “excellent verbal and written communication skills,” etc. Most companies today are not simply looking for “coders” who know any particular language inside and out. They want someone who knows their industry, their business, and the applications that their business runs on.
So these articles that focus on language as if they’re the end-all/be-all are quaint at best, but at worst, shallow and misleading.