IBM Redpaper Guides You To IBM i Modernization Tools
February 2, 2015 Alex Woodie
When it comes to building modern IBM i applications, there’s no shortage of tools available on the market. Depending on your requirements–whether you’re staying in the comfy confines of RPG or are comfortable with something like .NET, whether you’re looking just for Web tools or adding mobile too–there are different directions you can go. A recently published IBM Redpaper can help guide you to a better understanding of the third-party tools on the market.
IBM put a big focus on IBM i application modernization last year. After months of work and collaborating with the top experts in the field, it published a seminal Redbook on the topic in March 2014. The piece, quaintly titled Modernize IBM i Applications from the Database up to the User Interface and Everything in Between, was written by a dozen people under the supervision of Tim Rowe, IBM i business architect for application development and systems management.
The 720-word Redbook made quite an impact, and in September, Rowe followed it up with a complimentary Redpaper titled Tools and Solutions for Modernizing Your IBM i Applications. While it wasn’t the bestseller of the massive Redbook and weighed in at a mere 284 pages, the Redpaper does pull the curtains back on third-party application modernization solutions from a handful of vendors.
You will probably recognize most of the names of the Web and mobile modernization tool providers featured in the Redpaper: ASNA, BCD Software, CNX, LANSA, looksoftware, Profound Logic, Rocket Software, and SystemObjects. The Redpaper also tackled database modernization and security tool, but for today we’ll focus on the Web and mobile modernization tools.
Here’s a quick introduction to each of the vendors and products covered in the Redpaper:
ASNA Mobile RPG and Wings
BCD Software Presto and WebSmart
LANSA LongRange, RAMP, and Visual LANSA
LANSA offers a collection of modernization tools for IBM i shops looking to build Web and mobile apps, including LongRange, RAMP, and Visual LANSA. The well-received LongRange product enables developers to build high-performing native mobile applications that are compiled in Objective-C (for iOS) and Java (for Android). RAMP, which stands for Rapid Application Modernization Process, is designed to address both short- and long-term needs. On the one hand, RAMP can provide a quick re-facing of existing RPG and COBOL screens using Web technology. But in its strongest configuration, RAMP is used to understand an existing application (think an ERP suite) and then re-generates composite application using LANSA’s 4GL components. Visual LANSA, of course, is LANSA’s flagship IDE for IBM i and Windows environments, and offers support for the latest Windows and Web interfaces.
looksoftware newlook, openlook, and smartclient
Now owned by Fresche Legacy, looksoftware sells a variety of tools to help IBM i shops retrofit existing apps to use modern interfaces or to build new apps from scratch. Everything starts with newlook, the company’s flagship IDE, which uses IBM’s RPG Open Access technology to replace DDS and 5250 assets with newer and better Web and mobile interfaces. The company also sells a product called openlook to help IBM i shops switch between OA and non-OA compatible data sources. The tool also supports the new Open Display File (ODF) format, which looksoftware is pushing as a way to build new IBM i from scratch without involving any DDS whatsoever. The company also sells smartclient, which uses Microsoft’s .NET APIs for building rich Windows-based GUIs that offer higher performance than Web and mobile applications can deliver. For Web and mobile apps, the company uses HTML5-based thin client technology delivered via lookserver.
Profound Logic Genie and Profound UI
Rocket LegaSuite Web, Mobile, and Integration
SystemObjects Delphi/400 and SmartPad4i
International Business Systems XT
The latest release of IBS‘ Enterprise software is based on new “Xcross” platform technology, dubbed XT. According to the IBM Redpaper (which was the first time IT Jungle has run across the XT technology), the technology “includes everting you need to develop and deploy advanced enterprise applications.” The software, which consists of client, server, and studio components, basically converts the 5250 datastream into XML, which can then be used to paint interfaces on a range of devices. IBS says in the future it will offer similar technology for other platforms besides IBM i.
You can download the Redpaper at: www.redbooks.ibm.com/abstracts/redp5095.html?Open
Here’s a brief look into the Redpaper and the solutions you will find in it: Surround Technologies