Pathfinder Probes For Answers To IBM i Questions
March 16, 2016 Alex Woodie
The best programmers, by their very nature, are lazy. Why write or buy something new when the function already exists? One of the most popular commercial tools that helps IBM i developers continue to be lazy is Pathfinder, a cross-reference and documentation utility developed by Hawkeye Information Systems. Now with support for RDi and free-form RPG, Pathfinder will help free a new class of developers from programming drudgery.
At its root, Pathfinder is a programming tool. The software was first developed to work with the IBM System/3 back in 1976, and has been brought forward to the IBM i server we use today. With support for RPG, COBOL, CL, SQL, and SEQUEL code from HelpSystems SEQUEL Software subsidiary, the software supports the platform’s native languages.
Pathfinder analyzes source code as well as objects, and can tell developers lots of useful information know about their programs, such as: Which programs are accessing which physical files and their dependent logical files? Where are specific objects used, and what objects are no longer needed? When making changes to an existing program, having this sort of functionality available at the press of a button can be a lifesaver.
Pathfinder can also be used to troubleshoot what went wrong during production jobs, which can be a complex undertaking when jobs involve a lot of programs and touch a lot of files and objects. And for shops that don’t use change management software to automate the management and roll-out of code changes, Pathfinder supports a mass compile function that can take a lot of pain out of deploying changes.
“This is a product that the company and I cannot do without,” Kevin Dick, a development engineer with VAI, says in a testimonial posted to the Hawkeye website. “The information that Pathfinder provides assists us in all areas of our development.”
In February, Hawkeye released an update to Pathfinder that brings the tool forward once again. The biggest new feature in version 9.6 is a plug-in for IBM’s Rational Developer for i (RDi) development environment. Not every Pathfinder function is available via the plug-in, but the company says that by making the “Object Where Used” function available, it will allow developers to access the object cross-reference information within RDi.
Hawkeye has also added support for free-form RPG with Pathfinder 9.6. This will enable developers who are using free-form expressions–first available with the RPG compilers that shipped with IBM i 7.1 in 2010–to take advantage of all that Pathfinder has to offer. Hawkeye also says that objects referenced in RPG using the EXTFILE and EXTDESC keywords are now included in the object cross-reference functionality.
This release also expands support for dynamic SQL statements. The company says the object cross-reference functionality now supports embedded dynamic SQL statements via the PREPARE and EXECUTE IMMEDIATE statements.
License fees for Pathfinder start at $7,200. For more information see hawkinfo.com.