Vote On New IBM i Functionality With RFE Community Program
March 15, 2017 Alex Woodie
IBM is rolling out a new program that will not only allow IBM i customers to submit requests for enhancements (RFEs) over the Web, but allow the IBM i community to vote on them. Dubbed IBM RFE Community, the developerWorks program provides another venue for informing the Rochester Lab about a problem or asking them to build a new feature into the IBM i product.
The new IBM RFE Community program for IBM i, which we told you was coming last August, is based on other RFE programs the company has had in place for other software products. Armed with a Web browser and a valid IBM ID, any IBM i customer can ask IBM Rochester to add any new feature or function to the IBM i platform.
Anybody can view the new IBM i requirements submitted through the program, which is hosted at www.ibm.com/developerworks/rfe. What’s even better is that anybody – including press-type people without valid IBM customer credentials – can monitor the horserace occurring among the different RFEs to see which ideas are resonating and which ones are DOA. Unfortunately, a valid IBM ID is needed to see the full RFE and comments.
As of last week, there were 46 new RFEs submitted for the IBM i category. IBM said that 24 were “planned” and 43 were “delivered” (which probably means delivered to IBM Rochester, not delivered as a product in IBM i). A total of 210 users have participated in the new IBM i RFE program, according to the site, with 745 comments and 2,410 votes.
The leading IBM i-related RFE vote-getter at this point is “DB2 service for IFS listing,” which would return a list of IFS files within a directory using a DB2 forest. It received 63 votes. That’s closely followed by an idea to enhance the interface for Run SQL Script in IBM i ACS, which received 60 votes and is “under consideration” according to IBM.
Getting the bronze medal at this point would be “V7R1 should support newer SSL Ciphers,” which received 57 votes. However, IBM has already said it will not be porting newer SSL/TLS ciphers to IBM i 7.1 (so maybe it just gets an honorable mention. Sorry, Rob).
Although the RFE Community for IBM i has been up for less than a month, it already has a backlog of RFEs because IBMers have been spreading the word about the new RFE program for several months, says IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will in a blog post last week.
“Some of you have already been creating requirements using RFEs to request additional capabilities,” Will wrote. “The #ibmioss (open source) community is active. The users of IBM i Access technology seem to have taken their cue from [business architect] Tim Rowe. . . who has been talking about RFEs in his presentations for several months now, so there is a long list of requests for enhancements for IBM i Access.”
The new RFE Community program provides a fifth way that IBM i professionals around the world can submit IBM i-related requirements to IBM. The existing requirements methods included programs hosted through the COMMON Americas Advisory Council (CAAC), the COMMON Europe Advisory Council (CEAC), the Large User Group (LUG), and IBM’s ISV Advisory Council.
How will the new RFE Community program impact the other IBM i requirement programs? “That’s still evolving,” Will writes. “We want to continue to get the advice of our collaborators in CAAC and CEAC, so we’re talking with them about how they will weigh in on the value of the various requirements we get. We’ve had a great working relationship with these groups over the years, so we are confident we can find a way to adapt to the new world – the world that includes RFEs for IBM i.”
The openness and transparency of the new RFE Community process would seem to be a boon to the IBM i community. While COMMON would do its best to update the list of requirements it submitted to IBM, it was often out of date. Nothing about the LUG is transparent, except perhaps its meeting agenda. Letting software automate this process and make it widely accessible to anybody who is interested in it would seem to be a no-brainer.
“We’re happy with the way things have gone since IBM i joined the RFE community,” Will says, “and now it’s time to take the next steps.”
For details on how to submit an RFE using the new tool, check out IBM i Business Architect Nancy Uthke-Schmucki’s in-depth February 24 article on the developerWorks website, which you can access here.