All i Want For Christmas Is RDi Lite
December 12, 2018 Alex Woodie
All some IBM i community members wanted for the holidays was RDi Lite. Instead, they’re looking at IBM like the Grinch due to its decision not to offer a free, scaled-down version of the application development tool. What’s more, the community is expressing great displeasure at the manner in which IBM handled the matter through its Request for Enhancement (RFE) process.
Hassan Farooqi kicked off the campaign for RDi Lite in August 2017, when he posted an RFE on the new IBM developerWorks website that’s designed to facilitate collaboration with its user communities by allowing them to submit ideas for new products and features. Farooqi’s RFE (#108558) asked IBM to split RDi into two pieces: a free version that offered basic capabilities, dubbed RDi Lite, and a more advanced version that had all the bells and whistles, dubbed RDi Premium.
Citing the overall low-level of adoption of RDi in the IBM i community and the growing need to get IBM i community using modern tools, Farooqi argued that a scaled-down version of RDi would lead to a better alignment of costs and capabilities in the wider IBM i community.
“RDi pricing makes management hesitant to allocate budget,” Farooqi wrote in his initial RFE. “They can’t see the return on investment. To make ROI more obvious, we need a light version of RDi that is free and includes the basic functions of SEU: editing, compiling, running and debugging. The remaining hundreds of features can remain in the paid version.”
The response from the IBM i community was almost entirely positive over the months that followed, if the comments in the RFE are any measure. “A free or even reduced price (under $100) would be a game changer for this product. As discussed, the $800 price tag plus retraining is cost prohibitive for my shop,” wrote Brian Bradley. “This is awesome,” wrote Alex Krashevsky. “RDi price is way beyond understandable…” wrote Jan Salminen.
At first, IBM seemed receptive to the idea. “Implementing this RFE is good for the platform,” wrote Dawn May, IBM’s advisor to the COMMON Americas Advisory Council (CAAC), COMMON Europe Advisory Council (CEAC), and the Large User Group (LUG). “It will result in additional users of RDi and as a result, moving applications forward.” (May has since left IBM to run her own consultancy).
Earlier this year, IBM changed the status of the RFE to “delivered,” which indicates that it would take action in support of the request. On June 13, an IBM product manager explained that in a future release, RDi would be available free to use within a 120-day evaluation period, up from the current 60-day period.
The IBM product manager also explained the different ways that customers can get RDi (via the hardware channel, through Passport Advantage, as a trade-in of entitlements, and through a bundle with an MSP). The manager also explained that RDi is available at up to 50 percent discount through various programs. All told, the RFE received 344 votes, although it’s not clear whether those votes were in support of the RFE, because that information is not provided on the website.
IBM’s response to the RFE – and in particular, how it categorized the request as “delivered” — was not taken well by the IBM i community, to say the least. Here’s a sampling of some of the comments made on the RFE:
“What has been ‘delivered’ is not a free, limited version of RDi,” writes Ted Holt, the editor of IT Jungle’s Four Hundred Guru and a developer at Profound Logic. “I ask IBM to reconsider this request.”
“Closing this as ‘delivered’ is a farce,” wrote John Yeung. “It is a slap in the face because it is disingenuous and comes across as completely and utterly tone-deaf.”
“RFE closed incorrectly,” wrote Rohit Sharma. “The request was to provide a ‘lite’ or basic version that was free to use.”
“Please correct the status of this item,” wrote Kevin Wright. “An RDi Lite (whatever the name), which is the point of this RFE, has not been delivered.”
“Either change the status or change your action but the current state of things is a lie,” writes Mihael Schmidt.
“I do agree with those who claim that Delivered status was given here prematurely,” wrote Alex Krashevsky. “The requestor was asking for RDi Lite with basic functionality that would come with operating system with no extra charge, and it’s hard to see how that is currently ‘delivered.'”
“It is truly sad and unfortunate, that our efforts was met with a ‘Delivered’ response, which is simply untrue,” writes Marinus Van Sandwyk on the ILE-RPG developers group on LinkedIn. “Please review the original request and our recent APPEAL to IBM to please review this favourably. Please consider adding your voice to this appeal? This is a CRUCIAL component for the ILE-RPG Developer community, as we want to do our bit for IBM i and the future of our platform?”
However, it appears unlikely that IBM will reconsider the matter. “This request cannot be reconsidered. Only requests that have been declined can be reconsidered,” it states under the “Reconsideration” tab on Farooqui’s RFE.