What’s In the Top 5 Hottest IBM i RFEs
March 17, 2021 Alex Woodie
The IBM i platform’s greatest strength is its committed user base, whose long-lasting loyalty is unique in the annals of the business computer industry. IBM encourages its committed customers to get involved with shaping the future of the platform through the Request for Enhancement (RFE) process, which plays out in the public for all to see.
IBM’s RFE process also supports the ability for users to submit requests privately, and there are undoubtedly plenty of these requests made. Obviously, we have no insight into these private RFEs (although they would be fun to read). Among the public RFEs, there are several compelling requests making the rounds at the moment.
Here are brief descriptions of the top five hottest IBM i-related RFEs on the IBM RFE Community webpage:
RFE 148159 — Develop Visual Studio Code Extension for RPG
An IBM i professional from Italy has a very simple request: an extension that enables him to write RPG code in Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code (VS Code) editor.
VS Code is one of the most popular code editors in the world, the user writes in the January RFE submission. Why can’t there be an IBM-sanctioned extension that supports RPG coding in VS Code?
In the RFE, the user points out that the IBM i community has already developed a pair of plug-ins that support RPG and other IBM i languages in VS Code. In fact, we wrote about these offerings, which were developed by Niels Liisberg and Barret Otte, back in December.
The RFE has received 68 votes, making it one of the hottest RFEs at the moment. Several members of the IBM i community expressed support for the idea of an IBM-supported RPG plug-in for VS Code.
“I love the idea of getting something IBM-made,” writes Otte in the comments section of the RFE. “One of the hardest things of learning IBM i and RPG as a Web developer was the completely foreign operating system and code editor (SEU). I think that creating a basic VS Code extension for RPG(LE) with syntax highlighting and language server protocol would greatly lower the learning curve for younger IBM i developers and keep the platform growing.”
“I know there are one or two RPG extensions already available, for VS Code, but having one built and maintained by Toronto would be awesome,” writes Bob Cozzi, a longtime RPG programmer and sometime IT Jungle author.
“This is a very valid RFE,” writes COMMON Europe president Ranga Deshpande, who also suggested the RFE be reclassified under the IBM i banner so that it gets more traction in the RFE sweepstakes (which IBM did).
“A SUPERB request IMHO that will add significant impetus to attracting young developers (and not so young) to the platform, as RDi’s cost, is prohibitive to true SMB installations and the uninformed developers who have not yet being exposed to our incredible platform,” writes TEMBO CEO Marinus van Sandwyk.
It has the attention of IBM. “IBM will use this request as input to planning but no commitment is made or implied,” writes IBM_Systems_Developer. The current status is “uncommitted candidate.”
RFE 147363 – CGI PDI Enable History Performance Reports PDF
An IBM user from Sweden would like to be able to get a monthly report of historical performance data collected by Performance Data Investigator (PDI), just as users have been able to get from the now-discontinued Performance Management for Power Systems, better known as PM/400.
In the RFE, which was submitted in December, the user, systems administrator Lars Stridh, says that PDI is already better than PM/400, but that it lacks the ability to get the monthly PDF report. The user says his customers are “upset” at the situation. Stridh also adds that his customers miss the “executive” section of the PM400 reports, and that if this could also be added, that it would make them happy.
The RFE has received 40 votes, and appears to have a well of support that will make this request a reality. COMMON Europe Advisory Council (CEAC) recommends that IBM address this change as a medium priority item, writes Therese Eaton, the IBM program manager for CEAC.
IBM’s response was also positive, but with a caveat. “This is not a simple request, and thus will not be delivered this year,” IBM_Systems_Developer writes. “The Performance Tools team considers this an important function and we will be working on it for a future delivery.” The current status is “uncommitted candidate.”
RFE 147633 — Allow a BIF That Checks to See If a Parameter Is Passed
One IBM i developer would like IBM to deliver a built-in function (BIF) that indicates if a parameter has been passed with actual data, as opposed to not passed or passed with *OMIT.
To get that information, the submitter must write some cumbersome code. “It would be nice to have a BIF called %passed or some such that does all that,” the submitter writes.
The RFE, which was submitted in December, has garnered 29 votes over the past two-and-a-half months. It has the backing of the CEAC, which recommended IBM accept it as a medium-level priority item.
Cozzi also signaled his approval. “I couldn’t agree more,” he writes. “A simplified interface of a built-in named something like %PARM that does both those options. Then we’d only have to also check for blanks or zeros.”
“At first glance, I was skeptical,” writes senior developer Mark Murphy, “but this would make checking parms consistent whether they were defined with *NOPASS, *OMIT, or both. This would be some nice syntactic sugar on my RPG-O’s.”
Last week, IBM_Systems_Developer said: “IBM will use this request as input to planning but no commitment is made or implied.” The current status is “uncommitted candidate.”
RFE 149179 — Support Folders in iACS Session Manager
IBM i developer David Gibbs from Illinois would like to be able to create folders and subfolders in the Access Client Solutions (ACS, or iACS) session manager to allow better organization of display and printer sessions.
In his March 10 RFE submission, Gibbs writes:
“In situation where there are large number of display and printer sessions, it would be useful to be able to organize them into folders and subfolders,” Gibbs says. “For instance, a user might want to group all production systems in one folder, development systems in another, and testing systems in yet another.”
The RFE, which Gibbs gave a “medium” severity rating, received 25 votes in just four days. IBM has yet to weigh in on the request. Another user indicated that folders and subfolders would also be handy in the management/system configurations panel.
There are many other RFEs under consideration, but these five were the “hottest,” according to the IBM RFE page. IBM has declined several other RFEs this month, including a proposal to change the name of RPG, porting GO to the PASE environment, and supporting Microsoft .NET Core and .NET Framework natively on IBM i. When IBM formally rejects an RFE, it means that it will not deliver it within a year, and that the user is free to re-submit the idea a year later.
RFE 147964 — Support BRMS and IBM Cloud Storage Solutions for i in a FlashCopy environment
An IBM i customer in Spain is requesting a change to the way that BRMS and IBM Cloud Storage Solutions work in a FlashCopy environment.
The user says the problem has to do with how BRMS stores information about the image catalogs and the status of the media. It is stored in a QUSRBRM file, which is copied back to the production system. However, “the image catalog data and associated IFS data on the backup systems is NOT copied back the production,” the user writes. “So, the QUSRBRM Files record information does not match the image catalog data that we think we have.”
As a result of this, backups fail several times per month because there are not enough virtual tapes available in the image catalog, writes the user, which listed the problem as a “high” priority item.
There appears to be support for implementing this enhancement, which has received 25 votes from the community since it was submitted in January. CEAC recommends that IBM address this change as a medium priority item, according to the CEAC’s Eaton.
An IBM representative said the BRMS team “will use this request as input to planning but no commitment is made or implied.” The current status is “uncommitted candidate.”
You can view the RFE page and vote on RFE submissions at www.ibm.com/developerworks/rfe.