Rocket DevOps Now Supports VS Code
September 25, 2023 Alex Woodie
IBM i developers who prefer to code within VS Code can now get all the goodness of automated change management and CI/CD with Rocket Software’s DevOps offering, which now supports the popular browser-based development environment, among other new features.
VS Code, which is short for Visual Studio Code, has rocketed to popularity in the IBM i community over the past couple of years. That popularity is due in large part to Code for IBM i, the Liam Allan-developed plug-in that brings ILE language support to Microsoft’s open source IDE.
Allan, who is known to despise IBM’s full-fledged Java-based IDE, Rational Developer for IBM i (RDi), developed the plug-in and released it in June 2021 to give the IBM i community a modern, lightweight alternative to RDi. According to the offering’s homepage on the Visual Studio Marketplace, it has been downloaded and installed more than 22,000 times.
That popularity is evident in Rocket Software’s installed base, according to Puneet Kohli, president of the company’s application modernization business unit. According to Kohli, the demand for VS Code support in the company’s DevOps suite has been palpable.
“I would say about a third of our customers were looking for VS Code,” Kohli said. “VS Code is becoming quite popular.”
Rocket’s DevOps suite, which includes the IBM i change management software, LMi, that it acquired from Aldon back in 2011, could support VS Code before. But it didn’t offer full support for Git. If a developer made a change with VS Code on the IBM i repository, the changes weren’t automatically synched with the Git version. That automated synching with VS Code changes is now supported in Rocket DevOps version 10.2.2.
“Developers can attach VS Code to their Git repository or to their native IBM i repository and switch between the two instances,” Kohli said. “If the application is natively stored on i [in LMi], they can work there. If it’s stored in Git, they can work there.”
The new VS Code plug-in also provides access to some of the advanced functions in Rocket DevOps, Kohli said. “Like compare between changes, compiling, dependency mapping,” he said. “You can right-click in the source, right in VS Code, and you can have a context right there to be able to pick those commands.”
Rocket DevOps brings full support for deployment of VS Code applications, as well as testing, Kohli said. “You can actually deploy tests right in your VS Code, and run the tests while you’re compiling.”
Version 10.2.2 brings other new features. According to Kohli, the whole process of building code pipelines as part of a CI/CD process – from development to testing to deployment – is more automated with this release.
“We’ve opened up quite a bit of our capability to be able to do single source pipeline,” Kohli said. “It really enables you to do cross-platform development, if you have applications that are being written on i, but then they also have parts of the application on Linux that are being developed. You can combine source in Git, and then do dependency mapping between those objects that you have.”
Developers can attach tests directly to the code in the pipeline, so that when the development is completed, it will automatically kick off tests. If the tests are successful, then it will automatically deploy the code. “So you can build a whole soup-to-nuts sort of pipeline in RDi or in the Rocket DevOps portal that we provide.”
Another enhancement that Rocket DevOps users will find in the new release is the capability to update a database file while application code changes are still being applied in Rocket DevOps.
It can take quite a while to transmit large database files, such as 20GB, over the network. In older releases of Rocket DevOps, the application deployment process had to pause for those database updates to be done before it could continue. Rocket altered the software to be able to continue working while database updates occur in the background.
“Sometimes it takes a long time for files to deploy,” Kohli said. “And while the change is happening, we can continue to incrementally update the file while the deployment is going on. It doesn’t lock the file while you’re trying to make changes to the file.”
While it’s not technically a new feature in 10.2.2 – it was added with the launch of 10.2 this spring – Kohli felt it was new enough to mention during his call with IT Jungle.