IBM i RFE Site Moving to New Location
April 4, 2022 Alex Woodie
IBM last month announced that it’s moving its Request for Enhancements (RFE) program to a new place. From now on, IBM i users will be asked to submit and vote on RFEs via its new IBM Ideas website, where IBM is centralizing the RFE programs for various products, including IBM i.
In the summer of 2016, IBM opened a new RFE program on its developerWorks site at www.ibm.com/developerworks/rfe/. That website marked Big Blue’s first formalization of its requirements process, which up until that point was spread across four entities: the COMMON Americas Advisory Council (CAAC), COMMON Europe Advisory Council (CEAC), the Large User Group (LUG), and IBM’s ISV Advisory Council.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of IBM i-centric RFEs have been submitted over the years. And thanks to the voting mechanism built into the developerWorks website, the IBM i community was able to have additional input into the features they desired. Most of the RFEs were denied by IBM managers in Rochester, Minnesota, but some of them were good enough that IBM incorporated the requests into releases of the IBM i operating system.
Over time, IBM started offering other RFEs for other operating systems and products. Currently, users can select from hundreds of different products on the drop-down box, including nine listings for various CICS products, 19 for various DB2 on z/OS products, and 39 for various IMS products. IBM i, alas, has the single public listing (there is an option to submit an IBM i RFE privately), although there are separate categories for PowerHA, PowerVM, PowerSC, and everybody’s favorite virtualization layer, PowerVM VIOS. Anybody equipped with an IBM ID could log into the RFE system, browse through requests posted by other users, vote on RFEs if desired, and even submit an RFE of their own.
Starting in 2019, IBM started to phase out portions of the developerWorks site and move them to other locations, including the developerWorks Connections website. Apparently, the time was up to move the RFE portion of the developerWorks website, too, because on March 23, Nancy Uthke-Schmucki, an IBM i business architect for the IBM i Ideas Focal Point and CAAC program manager, wrote a blog post on the IBM Power Community website letting the IBM i community know that moving day was coming for the IBM i RFE program.
“Many IBM products have already transitioned to a new single place for customers to raise and view requests,” Uthke-Schmucki wrote. “That place is called ‘IBM Ideas’ and incorporates the use of Aha!, a partner’s tool. It is time for our IBM i and Developer for Power Systems (i.e., RDi) RFE products to transition as well.”
The IBM i RFE site was slated to move to the new IBM Power Systems Ideas Portal (https://ibm-power-systems.ideas.ibm.com/) starting on March 25. Users can still visit the old RFE website, but visitors are greeted with a note that the RFE content for many products has already moved to IBM Ideas, and that the rest of the products will be moved over the coming months.
Users will have a better experience at the new IBM Ideas site compared to the old site, Uthke-Schmucki says. In particular, the search experience will better enable users to identify duplicate requests.
“When you start typing your single sentence summary for a new Idea, the powerful search engine will immediately show you the titles of existing Ideas that match some of the words, so you can decide if you still want to create your own new Idea, or vote and/or comment on an existing Idea,” the IBM i business architect writes. “If you do happen to create an Idea that is later determined to be a duplicate of an existing Idea, your Idea will be merged into the content of that existing Idea.”
Users will also notice there are new names for the various states that RFEs go through along their journey from to becoming finished features in the IBM i operation system. All ideas start out with the “submitted” tag. Soon thereafter, it will be “under review” as the IBM i team takes the time to read it and determine whether it’s feasible.
The “needs more information” tag will appear if the IBM i team has questions about the idea. If it passes initial muster, it will gain the “future consideration” tag. If it’s a particularly good idea that Rochester is taking action on, it will get the “planned for future release” tag.
There are three resting places that ideas will ultimately end up: “delivered” for those ideas that make it into the operating system; “functionality already exists” if it’s largely a duplicate item; and “not under consideration” for those ideas that fail to interest the IBM engineers.
The new IBM Ideas site will not be as free and open as the old RFE site in one important manner: the identity of people making requests.
In the old RFE site, all users could view the IBM IDs of people who submitted RFEs and those who made comments in them. With the new site, the identity of people submitting and commenting on RFEs are hidden by default, although the people can elect to identify themselves if they choose.
“If you are comfortable letting the IBM i Community know your identity, then please add your name to the end of the details section of your Idea, or to the end of your comment,” Uthke-Schmucki writes. “It is also fine to use a pseudonym, if desired. As you will see, collaboration will be enhanced if there is a name associated with the interactions, but the choice is yours.”