Demand Building for Node.js on IBM i
December 2, 2014 Alex Woodie
On October 6, IBM announced that IBM i 7.1 Technology Refresh 9 and IBM i 7.2 TR1 would both contain support for Node.js when the TRs shipped on November 11. Since then, numerous IBM i professionals have contacted IT Jungle wondering where they can download and view the Node.js documentation.
On top of the core Node.js functionality, IBM built extensions to get access to DB2 for i and native IBM i objects, such as programs, commands, data queues, data areas, spool files, user spaces, jobs, system values, and environment values. By giving Node.js the full IBM i treatment and integrating it into the platform, IBM is encouragingNode.js adoption, as it did with PHP years before and as is doing currently for Ruby on Rails.
The required Node.js for i documentation should come soon, according to Tim Rowe, the business architect for application development and systems management for IBM i at the IBM lab in Rochester, Minnesota. “The Node.js support will be available in mid-December,” Rowe says. “The documentation will be hosted on the developerWorks site at the same time.”
That information can’t some soon enough for some developers in the IBM i community who are itching to get started with the latest open source tooling. Like developers targeting other platforms, IBM i pros are eager to take advantage of the speedy server response time that is the hallmark of Node.js applications.
One IBM i pro looking to explore Node.js is Kelly Cookson, the IT project leader at Dot Foods, a food redistributor based in Mt. Sterling, Illinois. “I see Node.js as having the potential to make Web and mobile access to IBM i resources very flexible and fast,” Cookson tells IT Jungle. “Of course, this is just how I envision it, having never used it. Actual mileage may vary.”
Another IBM i pro exploring Node.js on i is Paul Wren, development manager at Macro 4, the British developer of utilities and systems management tools for IBM i and other platforms that’s owned by UNICOM Global.
Wren’s interest in Node.js is primarily personal at the moment, but the technology could be incorporated into the Macro4 products at some point in the future, he tells IT Jungle. “While it might be advantageous to consider using Node.js for Web services, we are bound to support our customers at the lowest possible release. So since this is only available at [IBM i 7.1 and 7.2], we can’t make use of it immediately, but would certainly consider it for the future.”
IBM has done well to bring numerous open source tools to IBM i. By supporting technologies like PHP, MySQL, Ruby on Rails, and now Node.js, IBM is not only helping to keep the midrange server relevant, but giving IBM i pros a place on the platform to practice modern coding techniques, and that’s good for everybody.