ARCAD Brings Traditional 5250 Development Into DevOps Fold
June 24, 2019 Alex Woodie
IBM i developers who embrace modern DevOps techniques typically also use modern development tools, like RDi. Much of the IBM i world uses IBM’s latest development environment, but many have resisted. Now, thanks to new software from ARCAD Software, IBM i developers who work with older tools like PDM can also partake of the benefits of DevOps.
Getting older IBM i developers on board with the latest tools and techniques is a big priority for ARCAD Software, according to Alexandre Codinach, vice president of Americas for ARCAD Software, which included the new 5250 development capabilities with the launch of version 11 of its suite.
“DevOps is not the future anymore. DevOps is today, in fact,” Codinach told IT Jungle during a meeting at the POWERUp conference at Disneyland last month. “Either you move to DevOps or you’re going to die. You don’t have the choice today.”
With version 11, ARCAD has made a number of changes to its suite that allow all IBM i developers – even those who work in traditional 5250-oriented development tools – to move forward into the new DevOps world.
ARCAD previously supported the capability to store RPG source code in Git repositories for any developer using any tools. But there were limitations in previous versions that prevented wider adoption among developer who use older tools, Codinach says.
“We were able to store the sources into a Git repository, to build and deploy,” he says. “But a lot of things were manual. And you were not able to continue to work with an IBM i style. You needed to move to RDi to deal with all the Git branches.
“With version 11, you can continue to develop as you used to develop previously, but behind the scene, all the sources are in Git,” Codinach continues. “With this version, you have a synchronization between the IBM i environment and the Git environment automatic behind the scene.”
ARCAD’s main goal with version 11 is to ease the transition between software change management (SCM) tools on IBM i and a true DevOps stack, ARCAD chief technology officer Michel Mouchon says in a press release.
“Many IBM i customers currently face the challenge of managing two types of development: software packages (such as JD Edwards) with a proprietary 5250 interface, along with native-style RPG development,” he says. “Git was a ‘word away’ for these development teams, and using standard Git from IBM’s RDi would actually mean losing some valuable features needed for IBM i development.”
ARCAD’s new Git integration in version 11 enables traditional IBM i developers to utilize important features, such as change history and project view, all from the ARCAD-Skipper developer view.
“With Git, you have all the understanding on all the changes that have been done on one source,” Codinach says. “On the traditional IBM i source code management, you just have a flat list of what have been changed, without any visibility on the produced change. So the main goal was to integrate that to be able to provide this Git feature in our tool. This is what we did to avoid having to switch from the IBM i workspace to Git and coming back to IBM i, to avoid this back and forth between two technologies.”
This release also brings better build automation. Previously, developers could not launch recompilations from within the SCM environment. But now thanks to the “smart” dependency built into ARCAD’s software, developers can launch the build from Git directly within the ARCAD environment.
As technology and people change, IBM i shops must adapt to maintain their capabilities. But that doesn’t mean that people have to give up their favorite tools, according to Philippe Magne, the CEO of ARCAD.
“ARCAD has been offering source code management and process automation on IBM i for over 20 years,” Magne states in a press release. “Yet to keep control of the multi-technology environments of today, our customers have demanded a universal, platform-agnostic DevOps toolchain. ARCAD’s vision has been to reconcile the convenience of native-style development IBM with the transition to a full DevOps stack. By synchronizing traditional environments with the Git repository, we have achieved what many have thought impossible: to ‘marry’ the old and new worlds and exploit the power of each.”
In addition to support Git repositories – including those on GitHub or any Git-compatible repositories – ARCAD is extending support for other tools used for DevOps. That includes Jenkins, which provides automation around building, testing, and packaging changes in a continuous integration manner.
ARCAD version 11 now integrates with Jenkins to provide full automation of the build (or recompile) process, including those who choose to work within traditional SEU and PDM environments. The software automatically optimizes the build process, ARCAD says, including setting the correct sequence of compilation order when multiple components are in play (which is often the case).
The integration with Jenkins also provides ARCAD with improved testing capabilities within the Verifier component of the French company’s suite. ARCAD says the capability to automate regression testing of new or modified lines of code will deliver “true continuous testing” for IBM i.
Testing is part of the program, Codinach says. “We want to have a full DevOps stack, and as soon as you are talking about DevOps stack, you need to have something that is able to provide you with unit testing,” he says. “And we did it in this version 11, added some unit testing capabilities that are branchable using Jenkins into the build, and that can provide unit test on your IBM i development.”
Complementary to Verifier’s integration with Jenkins is iUnit, a new unit testing capability that’s similar Junit, which is popular on distributed platforms. iUnit will automates many of the tasks required to test each new line of code individually, including launching procedures from service programs and specifying the input parameters and expected outputs.
Version 11 also brings new test coverage analysis capabilities that tell the developer what percentage of the code has been tested. This will eliminate audit and compliance challenges associated with untested code, the company says.
Finally, ARCAD is also introducing what it dubs a new “macro maker” with version 11. Designed to augment CL, the macro maker provides “CL-like” capabilities to automate processes on the IBM i, but without the technical knowledge required to use actual CL. ARCAD says the software is like “youth serum” for IBM i, since it allows younger folks who aren’t wise to the CL ways to still script automated processes on the IBM i server.