Top Ten New IBM i RFEs
May 22, 2017 Alex Woodie
Should IBM open source its database drivers, or add support for .NET? Should it add the latest SSL ciphers to IBM i 7.1? These are some of the changes that it has received through its new Web-based requests for enhancement (RFE) program on its developerWorks site.
The new RFE functionality is only a few months old, but it’s already attracting the attention of IBM i professionals who want IBM to change things about the stack. It’s also getting attention from other IBM i pros who get to vote on them.
Here are the top ten RFEs so far, ranked by number of votes from the IBM i community.
Problem or Concern #1: Ruled line output in ACS
The submitter writes: “On IBM i Access for Windows or Pcomm, it is possible to output forms to the printer by a GDI printing capability of a windows printer session. But that is not possible on ACS.”
Requested Solution: The requestor, who hails from Japan, wants to be able to print these documents using the Java service, and not fool around with the PDT or HPT printing methods. A planned upgrade to Windows 10 hangs in the balance, as the requestor does not want to recommend the purchase of PCOM 12 to support ruled output in Windows 10.
He or she wants IBM to add ruled line output to the existing Java print service, or to add a new function to ACS that’s the equivalent of the GDI printing capability of IBM i Access for Windows.
Status: Under Consideration by IBM
Problem or Concern #2: Accessing a list of IFS files from DB2
The submitter, WorksofBarray (Liam Allan) writes: “I’d like to be able to get a list of IFS files within a directory using a DB2 service.”
Requested Solution: The requestor, who is Liam Allan, would like IBM to create an embedded SQL function within RPG to let users pull lists of IFS files, instead of forcing them to declare multiple APIs.
He writes: “Developers would be more efficient and saving a lot of time if they only had to use one statement instead of using different system APIs.”
Status: Delivered to IBIM
Problem or Concern #3: Prompting in the Run SQL Script
The submitter, WorkHardHaveFun (Bryan Jones) writes: “I would like to see the Run SQL Script interface support “.” dot prompting for columns with descriptions, types and length.”
If the submitter’s request is accepted, when an IBM i user is writing a SQL statement, the IBM i Access (or Access Client Solutions, we’re guessing) software would automatically generate a dropdown box that shows all the columns, with descriptions, lengths, data types, and scale.
“This is very helpful for developers who may not be familiar with all tables or all columns within a database,” the submitter writes. “It increases productivity by being more efficient than having to go back and look at either the source code of the table or looking at a DSPFFD output.”
Status: Under Consideration
Problem or Concern #4: Allow direct coding of nested data structures in Free Form RPG
The submitter, Jon Paris, writes: “The new free-form data declarations in RPG IV lend themselves to direct coding of true nested data structures. Allowing these to be coded directly would avoid having to code a lot of unnecessary templates that exist for no other reason than to nest data structures.”
Status: Delivered. IBM writes: “For 7.3, either get DB2 PTF group SF99702 Level 4, or get PTF SI63822 for target release *CURRENT and PTF SI63964 for target release *PRV.”
Problem or Concern #5: New SSL ciphers in IBM i 7.1
The submitter, Brad Stone, says IBM i 7.1 does not support the latest SSL ciphers, particularly those that utilize elliptic curve cryptography. This has led some IBM i shops on version 7.1 to be cut off from accessing trading partner’s systems.
We covered this as a story earlier this year: see “Lack Of Ciphers In IBM i 7.1 Raises Concern.”
Problem or Concern #6: Dynamic arrays in RPG.
The submitter, Zipperle (Siegfried Goetsch), writes: “Extend arrays and data-structure arrays to be really dynamic without having to use base pointer and memory allocation.”
He requests that IBM adapt how arrays run within IBM i to be fully dynamic, and to work without the programmers specifying the maximum number of elements. Arrays could size themselves.
Status: Uncommitted Candidate
Problem or Concern #7: Restrict Use of Global Variables in Subprocedures
IBM i professional Jon Paris asks IBM to provide a capability to restrict access to global variables from local subprocedures. “This could be done by adding a keyword to the dcl-proc specification that lists the global variables permitted for a given subprocedure,” he writes.
Status: Uncommitted Candidate
Problem or Concern #8: Support .NET Core and Framework on IBM i
Supporting Microsoft technologies on IBM i has been a topic of consideration for decades. The latest iteration of this debate comes from IBM i professional Mark Waterbury.
“Microsoft Corp. has ‘open sourced’ the .NET Core and .NET Framework, as well as the .NET compilers, etc., so now is the time for IBM to bring the .NET Core and .NET Frameworks to IBM i.”
Waterbury reasons that, since .NET is a major framework on par with Java (or perhaps even larger), that supporting it on IBM i would be a big positive. He says it would “open up a vast world” of .NET languages and compilers and allow the porting of “vast amounts of applications that have already been developed in .NET” to run on IBM i.
Problem or Concern #9: New BIFs for Nested Data Structures
Submitter Mark Murphy writes: “While I can easily create sub-procedures to handle these functions, I can’t create a single max or min sub-procedure to handle all numerical combinations, or a true variable numbers of parameters. Please add %min(1: 2: … : n), and %max(1: 2: … :n);
Status: Delivered. IBM is adding support for this in IBM i 7.2 and 7.3 via PTFs. For more info see http://ibm.biz/spring_2017_rpg_enhancements.
Problem or Concern #10: 520 Byte Sector Storage Support on EXP24SX
The submitter, Masakatu Yasui, asks IBM to support 520 byte sectors on the EXP24SX storage expansion unit for Power Systems servers.
Yasui writes: “The EXP24SX expansion unit should support 520 byte sector storage devices (both HDD and SSD) for IBM i. Only 4K byte storage is currently supported, but sales team needs to pay special attention to its performance, which may spoil their productivity.”
Status: Denied. IBM writes: “The RFE requester has withdrawn this request due to a misunderstanding. 4160 byte sector has no performance disadvantage compared with 520 byte sector, therefore 520 byte sector support is not needed.”