mrc Refreshes IBM i Low-Code Dev Tool
March 3, 2021 Alex Woodie
IBM i shops that use the latest release of mrc’s m-Power Web app development tool will find the tool easier to use and that applications can be developed faster than before, the company says.
mrc markets m-Power as a low-code development platform that supports IBM i and other Java platforms. The software is not a full-blown integrated development environment (IDE), the Chicago-based vendor says. But if the user is looking to quickly generate Web interfaces, dashboards, reports, portals, or mobile apps for existing IBM i applications, then it is a good fit.
The vendor says it built the new release from the ground up. The tool’s four-step build process has been bolstered with a new application specs panel that keeps the developer aware of their progress during the build, and allows them to navigate to any part of the build process with a single click.
“We’ve used React for other projects and looked at Angular as well,” an mrc spokesperson tells IT Jungle. “Both of these frameworks would have been good choices, but with Vue.js we found that not only could it deliver on our interface goals, but it is also best suited for other projects that we have in the pipeline as well. For our development team, this brings a high level of developer productivity on top of Vue.js’ already short learning curve.”
Support for data models is another new feature that will keep developers moving along quickly from project to project. In every project, the developer follows the same four steps (with four optional steps):
- Choose a template
- Select your data
- Define dimensions
- Add filters (optional)
- Add calculations (optional)
- Adjust field settings (optional)
- Customize the application (optional)
Steps 2 through 6 are all about defining the data model, mrc tells us. With support for pre-built data models, developers can now eliminate a good bit of work, and even to reuse existing data models.
“With this latest enhancement, m-Power users now have the option to create data models separately (outside of the application build process) and use them in any application,” the company tells us. “This is quite useful if they want to create multiple applications over the same dataset. Rather than define their data every time, they can just choose an existing data model, select a template, and they’re all done!”
Support for pre-built data models can speed up development by enabling developers to re-use complex queries, for example. Users can also analyze the data model in m-Power’s Data Explorer view, the company says.
m-Power also sports a new admin panel that allows administrators to access relevant administrator-based information, data without leaving their current workflow.
The company says it’s continuing to see customers build applications on the IBM i server. “While the IBM i is a work horse on the backend, a 5250 terminal is a lousy UI for end-users,” the company tells us. “We help customers who want to harness the solid backend with something that is more friendly and easy to use for the end-user. Even though the IBM i has been around forever, end user’s needs continue to evolve (think dashboarding, offline storage, mobile friendly UI).”
One of mrc’s customers was recently recognized for the work it did renovating its applications. Renzi Foodservice is a Watertown, New York-based company that provides food to local restaurants, schools, and hospitals. The company primarily served businesses, but following the COVID-19 shutdown, it realized it needed to diversify its business.
Renzi used m-Power to adapt their business by quickly adding a business-to-consumer element to its offering that allowed it to offer curbside pickup and delivery option for people. In fact, the company’s story was picked up by a local news station.
“With the help of one of our consultants, they created an eCommerce B2C portal in just a few weeks,” mrc tells us. “Consumers can now purchase food directly from Renzi using their portal, and then pick up their orders curbside or have them delivered.”