IBM i Knowledge Sharing: RSE Keyboard Shortcuts
October 7, 2015 Dan Burger
A thing of beauty is a joy to behold. For programmers, that thing of beauty is called a shortcut. The more you have, the greater the joy. Most RPG programmers know some shortcuts. Some are hoarded, but more often they get passed around with an “it’s better to give than receive” attitude. Call it karma, if you will. If you can go along with that, let me introduce you to the Queen of Karma–Susan Gantner.
Gantner is famous in the IBM i community for coming up with programming shortcuts. They’re tacked to cubical walls, taped to computer monitors, laminated to desks, and committed to memory. She gives them away like you give away candy on Halloween. There is one trick in her treat, however. You have to use Rational Developer for i (RDi) and Remote System Explorer (RSE). That’s going to weed out a bunch of IBM i users, but don’t turn away from this article just yet.
By Gantner’s estimation, the number of RPG programmers using RDi has been trending upward at a pace that tops anything we’ve seen in the past. That’s good because it indicates a trend toward modernization, but faster than a trickle doesn’t mean someone opened a fire hydrant. Let’s be clear about that.
There is, however, a correlation between IBM making an effort to modernize RPG and an increased interest in RDi. That, Gantner says, is why she updated her aggregation of RSE shortcuts. What it really comes down to is IBM i and RDi support for free-form RPG. The shortcut list was updated to include formatting free-form RPG, jumping to subroutines or procedures, opening members without drilling down in RSE, and performing other common tasks. It also contains Playing with Blocks, a series of tips related to working with blocks of code.
Programmers making the transition from fixed-format to free-format coding and green-screen development tools to graphical tools need all the help they can get. There’s a learning curve there. Make no mistake about it.
Vern Hamberg is a senior IT developer at a midsize IBM i shop with six developers–four use RDi and the company is getting software licenses for the other two. He claims to have had a “hate-hate relationship” with RSE for a few years dating back to when RSE was part of WebSphere Developer Studio Client. Hamberg’s relationship with RSE has mellowed somewhat. He uses RSE daily without any tears.
Hamberg has a fondness for keyboard shortcuts. He’s discovered and/or invented a lot of his own. “I’m an explorer and right-click menus are my friend,” he says.
“Keyboards are important to me. The mouse will never replace it,” he says. “I like keyboard shortcuts because they are not ‘eye-driven.’ A mouse slows me down because I have to use my eyes to find where I am. I love shortcuts on the keyboard because I don’t have to move around with a mouse and click on things. But my work varies and some of it requires point and click movements. When there are multiple layers to get where I want to go using a mouse, I will take a shortcut.”
From Gantner’s list of RSE short cuts, Hamberg marked things that he uses frequently. Thirty of the 50 items on the list were shortcuts that Hamberg considers important to the programming tasks he tackles. His favorite newly discovered shortcut from the list is Ctrl+Shift+D, which is used to navigate to each line changed within a date timeframe one statement at a time.
“Some things don’t apply to what I am doing. But that doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t gain by knowing those shortcuts,” he says. “I think this is a great list for people who are new to RSE.”
In addition to publishing “Favorite RSE Keyboard Shortcuts” Gantner also created the “RSE Quick Start Guide.” Both are available at no cost to the IBM i community at www.systemideveloper.com/downloads.html.
“The latest version of RDi makes it really easy to reformat existing Free Form RPG logic,” Gantner says. “You still need third-party tools to convert from fixed-form RPG to free-form. But once you’re in free-form and you need to re-indent some code because you’ve added or removed a level of nesting, the new built-in RDi support makes that quick and easy to do.”
The shortcut that allows users to jump from a subroutine or procedure call directly to the code for that routine and then back again is one of the most useful, in Gantner’s opinion.
“The new way to ‘jump around’ in RDi 9.5 is much better because we can move down to multiple levels of logic and then back again. It’s surprising how much difference a small change like this makes.
Gantner uses the RSE Keyboard Shortcuts and Quick Start Guide during training presentations at various conferences including the RPG & DB2 Summit. The next Summit is scheduled October 19-22 in Chicago.