Profound UI Handles Long-Name Aliases for RPG Coders
January 21, 2014 Alex Woodie
There are several reasons why RPG is viewed as a washed-up old legacy language to most of the non-IBM i world. IBM got rid of one of them when it widened its use of free format specs with IBM i 7.1 TR7. And Profound Logic is helping to dispel another with the latest release of its Web app development tool, Profound UI, which will help wean RPG coders away from cryptic, 10-character field names and toward descriptive aliases.
To an outsider, trying to decipher the 10-character field names used in RPG can be exercise in futility. Without some kind of cheat sheet, one may struggle to figure out that the field labeled CMCUSTADDR refers to the customer address located in the customer master file. While the conservation of space may have made sense in the S/38 days, we are now 14 years into the 21st century. Even COBOL, which has a few years on RPG, sneers when confronted with those 10-character field names, and snidely says, “That’s so lame, legacy boy.”
IBM addressed the situation with the original launch of IBM i 7.1 back in 2010, when it introduced the ALIAS keyword to the RPG compiler. Suddenly, RPG programmers could start using longer field names like CUSTOMER_ADRESS. Brainpower would no longer be wasted trying to decipher the cryptic 10-character field names. RPG programmers would no longer hang their heads in shame, and even stodgy old COBOL would admit that RPG was “looking good!”
Alas, the alias craze has failed to catch on. According to Profound Logic, the hassle of coding longer field names has led most RPG programmers to stick within the familiar confines of the 10-character field names. So while COBOL code appears at least somewhat self-explanatory to any random Java, C++, or SQL code-throwers who might stumble across it, even the freshest RPG laid down over the past four years looks straight out of programming’s Dark Age.
With the launch of Profound UI version 4.8 last week, RPG programmers can now use long descriptive names for database and display files, without worrying about keeping track of all the aliases. According to the company, the Profound UI product automatically creates all the necessary aliases for RPG developers, freeing them to focus on writing good, clean code.
The idea is to encourage transparent coding techniques, says Profound Logic CEO Alex Roytman. “RPG is a vibrant, modern coding language,” Roytman says in a press release. “We believe that modern applications begin with modern code and development practices, and we’re excited to give developers the tools they need to get more from their code than they may know is possible.”
Profound UI 4.8 also brings support for independent auxiliary storage pools (IASPs), which are becoming increasingly popular in IBM i environments. Specifically, IASP support in Profound UI allows any database-driven widgets that were created with the tool to load data that an IBM i shop has stored in an IASP.
On the client front, Profound UI 4.8 adds support for Internet Explorer version 11 and introduces Web browser detection flags. The latter feature allows Profound UI to detect specific Web browsers, thereby enabling users to customize their experience, the company says.
Profound UI 4.8 is available now. Next month, Roytman will be hosting a Webinar, titled “See What i Can Do with Modern RPG Development,” to showcase its new RPG alias functionality. To register for the event, which will also feature IBM’s lead developer Barbara Morris and IBM i Champion Brian May, go to www2.gotomeeting.com/register/207407002.