The Five Hottest IBM i RFEs Of The Quarter
April 2, 2018 Alex Woodie
You should know by now that IBM wants your input on new features for IBM i. Anybody with a valid IBM ID can submit their ideas – anything, really – through the new Request for Enhancement (RFE) process it put in place over a year ago. Now that the first quarter of 2018 is officially in the books, it’s a good time to check in with the RFE submissions and see kind of new stuff IBM i users have dreamt up to enhance the midrange server platform at the center of this community.
Here are the top five new RFEs, as rated by the number of votes they have received recently on the developerWorks RFE website. While some other RFEs have more votes, they were submitted further back in the past, hence IBM‘s classification of these as the “hottest requests.”
New built-in function %SPLIT
A submitter from Italy has recommended that IBM create a new built-in function (BIF) called %SPLIT. “The new built-in function %SPLIT can be used to extract an array of elements from a source string,” the submitter writes. It has received 63 votes, making it the hottest RFE under consideration at the moment.
Danilo Cussini sent the request to IBM last July with a low priority ranking, and IBM is currently evaluating it. The COMMON Americas Advisory Council (CAAC) has also evaluated the request and suggested that IBM view it as a “nice to have, low-priority feature,” according to Nancy Uthke-Schmucki, a CAAC program manager.
“This can be done by any developer, using the %SCAN BIF or the fixed form SCAN opcode,” Uthke-Schmucki writes on the developerWorks site. “Nevertheless, it would be much easier to have this BIF.”
Allow use of RPG constants in embedded SQL
David Gibbs, an IBM i developer who runs the Midrange.com message board, submitted this request for an enhancement in the Db2 for i database. The request reads as follows:
“When a constant is defined in RPG, allow that constant to be used in embedded SQL statements so that the value of the constant does not have to be hard coded in the SQL statement. Allow the constant to be referenced as if it were a program variable with a colon prefix.”
The enhancement would be useful in general programming use cases, Gibbs writes. It would be nice if the constants were defined “so that they do not have to be refined in programs using embedded SQL,” he writes.
The request was submitted in the middle of March with a medium severity level. It has already received 50 votes, the second most at the moment. IBM has not yet responded to the request through the RFE process; the CAAC has also not responded yet.
SQL prompting in ACS
This request was submitted late last year by a Danish programmer who likes the new SQL capabilities in Access Client Solutions (ACS) but wishes it offered some of the SQL features found in the tool it replaces.
“The new SQL tool in ACS make so much more sense than the old STRSQL,” writes IBM i programmer Niels Liisberg. “However, the prompt feature from the STRSQL where schemas, tables, columns can be selected from drop-down to construct SQL statements is really missing in the new ACS.”
Liisberg, who submitted the request with a high priority ranking, even suggested a way that IBM might implement the feature using function keys. The request has received 48 votes of approval, the third most at the moment, and it’s under consideration by IBM.
However, the request has the backing of the COMMON Europe Advisory Council (CEAC), a group that helps funnel requirements from European IBM i users up to IBM. “The CEAC has reviewed this requirement and recommends that IBM view this as a high priority requirement that is important to be addressed,” writes Dawn May, who’s the CEAC program manager and also a senior technical staff member with IBM. “This is typical behavior in other SQL editors.”
Add “in use” for stream files in iACS
This request was submitted in January to make it easier who’s performing maintenance to track down who has a lock on an IFS-based stream file through iACS, which is another name used for IBM i Access Client Solutions, the Java-based product that IBM views as its strategic IBM i client interface moving forward.
According to the submitter, Rob Berendt, an IBM i professional from Indiana, the ACS product is missing functionality that was found in earlier products from IBM. “In IBM Navigator for i you can go into Integrated File Systems and see who has a lock on a stream file,” Berendt writes. “I want that capability added in IBM i Access Client Solutions.”
The request was submitted in January with a medium severity level, and it currently has 35 votes. It’s under consideration by IBM. CAAC program manager Dawn May says the group has reviewed this requirement and recommends that IBM view this as a “nice to have, low-priority feature.”
Run SQL Scripts – Autocomplete
This request was submitted in January with the goal of giving IBM i programmers the same types of SQL autocomplete functionality that are found on other platforms. The target for this request is the Run SQL Scripts function that IBM added to ACS last year with Technology Refreshes for IBM i 7.2 and 7.3.
“Just like RDI or any [other] IDE you can autocomplete or look up fields when writing code,” writes the submitter, Petter Johansson of Norway. “It would be great if this would be available in Run Sql as well and in best case it would also be able to handle a library list for those of us with multiple schemas (the one already defined in the connection).”
Johansson submitted the request with a medium severity level, and it has garnered 27 votes. IBM says that the request is under consideration. However, the RFE has the backing of the CAAC, which recommends that IBM view this as a high priority requirement. “ACS should strive to provide function similar to other modern SQL tooling, such as Squirrel,” May wrote.
All told, there are currently 24 public RFEs listed on the developerWorks website that the general IBM i public can vote on. The majority of these are under consideration by IBM, although some were submitted so recently ago that IBM hasn’t had a chance to look at the request yet, and their status is listed as “submitted.” There is also one RFE, “Spooled file copy PDF or TXT Selection option,” that IBM delivered.
IBM also provides users with the ability to submit private RFEs. Predictably, there is no trace of any private RFEs listed on the website. If you would like to submit an RFE to IBM – public or private – you can do so at the following website: www.ibm.com/developerworks/rfe/.