The HATS team is excited to announce our very own HATS HotSpot, part of the Rational Cafés. We’re aiming for it to be a place where all HATS and WebFacing users, Business Partners, and developers can share and discuss ideas and experiences. Our own development team will also be blogging there. We’d love to hear from you, so please do come on over and join the community!
The RPG Café is now open for business. Modeled on the EGL Café and located in the same general area, the RPG Café provides a place for the RPG community to gather and share experiences and serve (we hope) as a single point of departure for news about RPG and related tools. There you’ll not only find RPG alone, but RDi, EGL and their relations.
As a result, this blog is moving, lock, stock, and barrel over to our new home. The posts and advice that are here will remain here, but new posts will be on the new blog.
Join us over there!
I’m heading to Wisconsin to present at the Winsonsin Midrange Computer Professional Association (WMCPA)’s Fall Conference. I’ll be covering 3 presentations (Customizing the RSE, Debugging, and What’s New in RDi 7.1 and WDSC 7.0) and one open lab (Using RSE, Customizing RSE, and Working offline with projects).
These are standard presentations I have given before, but I get to use and discuss RDi 7.5 publicly for the first time :) WMMCPA has a good lineup of speakers for this event, so if you are in the Wisconsin area then come on over on Friday and learn something new, network, and say hi.
I met Jim Buck (president of WMCPA) for the first time this summer in Rochester at Summer School (education for College and University teachers / professors). This was part of the IBM Academic Initiative, a program for sharing knowledge, support, and software with colleges and universities. I was quite amazed by the number of shcools teaching IBM i and Power systems courses; ranging from RPG through to DB2 on IBM i. If you teach at a College or University (IBM i or otherwise) you should definitely get hooked up with this program.
Ease of use (including ease of learning) and following Eclipse Workbench standard behavior are two of many things we try to include in all our designs. However, sometimes these two things are at odds and we have to choose one or write extra code to compromise on a solution. Over the past few weeks we’ve run into 3 good examples of this working on RDi 7.5 which I’m going to include here for comments on:
1. In Eclipse 3.4 (or Eclipse 3.3) the Plug-in Development Environment (PDE) added a new keyboard shortcut: Ctrl + Shift + A to open a plug-in artifact. RSE users will recognize this keyboard shortcut as the “Open Member” dialog. So now when you press Ctrl + Shift + A, Eclipse detects the conflict and pops up a little conflict dialog:
We (the RSE development team) had 3 choices: (1) Change our keyboard shortcut, (2) attempt to write some code to disable the PDE action, or (3) leave the conflict. Option (1) was ruled out because changing our action will make existing users frustrated because they are used to the old key sequence, and it doesn’t guarantee there won’t be future conflicts. Option 2 is out because it’s generally considered a bad practice to do something like this in the Workbench.
I believe option 3 is the best option because Eclipse already provides a preference page (General > Keys) where users can customize keyboard shortcuts. So really option 3 leaves it to the user to resolve by either changing the keyboard shortcut assigned to one of the actions or removing the key binding for the one they don’t want.
As a design rule, I’d like us to leverage the existing Eclipse workbench as much as possible for things like this instead of writing more code to resolve the issues (which can make things more complicated in the long run IMHO). Of course the shortfall of option 3 is that you have to know that you can customize the keyboard shortcuts via the preferences. The pop-up dialog does hint at this with the “Press Ctrl + Shift + L to open the preference page”.
2. The second example was around the current line color for the debug editor. The default editor used by the debugger is the Remote Systems LPEX Editor. The default current line color for the editor is pale blue that is hard to see. Again this can be changed by a preference (LPEX > Appearance) if you know where to look. In past releases we did some extra coding to override the preference and make the current line darker blue while debugging.. This release some things changed underneath us in the software stack and that no longer work. We ultimately decided to not re-implement this override since the preference already exists.
3. In the RSE you can right click on a local save file (local being on your PC), right click and select the Restore on IBM i… action to restore the save file on one of your IBM i connections (yes connections are now IBM i in 7.5 instead of i5/OS in 7.1 and iSeries before that). Previously this action ran on the user interface thread and blocked any refreshes of the Workbench (so the Workbench appeared hung during the upload and restore). We wanted to change this to run asynchronously and even give the user the option to run it in the background and continue doing other things. The design question was: what to do when the action completes with errors? The standard Eclipse progress task just puts an icon in the bottom right corner of the workbench with and explanation mark on it:
If you click the icon then a dialog box appears showing the results. Of course, you have to know to click the icon to see the results. The alternative would be to always show a dialog box when the action completes, but that could become annoying if you are in the middle of doing something like enter some source code. The jury’s still out on this one.
Ultimately we want the RSE to be easy to use and follow standard look and feel guidelines (which makes it easier to use in the long run). Like every other development team we also have fixed resources and implementing a workaround for something means something else doesn’t get done.
I’d love any comments that new or existing users have on this topic to help us in our future decisions!
Next Wednesday, October 22nd, I’m doing a SystemiNetwork webcast on the Integrated Debugger in WDSC and RDi titled: Debugging RPG, COBOL and CL Programs Made Easy. I’m planning to do mostly demoing with a couple of slides; provided the network connection is good. And leave lots of time for Q&A. The price is right (free; sponsored by Arcad Software) so come and join us.
My blogging sebatical is over (hopefully). At any given time I usually have at least 4 or 5 things I want to write about, so coming up with things wasn’t the issue; it was time and priorities. So I’m going to make blogging a higher priority. And with the RSE book finally out and the next release of Rational Developer for i (RDi 7.5) wrapping up, I should have some more time. More on RDi 7.5 in another post.
Interesting, I just went to the MC Press website to lookup the URL for the book and saw an ad for the book saying something about a free chapter download (news to me!) So, if you click on the “Look Inside” link you can download chapter 4 “Workbench Basics”. For those that have been using WDSC or RDi for awhile there might not be a lot new in this chapter for you, but hopefully you pickup a few new tidbits. You can also take a peek at the TOC and index.
If you happen to be at Paul, Skip, Susan, and Jon’s RPG & DB2 Summit next weekthen you can also stop by the MC Press booth and take a look (Merrikay will have some copies there.)
Updated Nov 11th: The link for RDi 7.5 was an internal IBM link that worked fine for me, but likely nobody else :) I’ve changed this to the external announcement letter.
The EGL Cafe community site has been in the works for a while now, but as of RSDC it is now live! The URL for the site is http://ibm.com/rational/eglcafe/ and there you’ll find everything from forums, blogs, EGL reference manuals (with commenting), videos, partner information, articles and much more. Enjoy :)
A 60-day trial version of Rational Developer for System i V7.1, is now available for download on developerWorks (http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/downloads/r/rdi/learn.html). Enjoy!
I’ve always wanted IBM to take advantage of the “i” in iSeries. Apple had the right idea with iPod, iTunes, iMac, even though I do believe iSeries was there before the iPod came around. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Well IBM, after deliberating with the user community, has taken it to a new level… introducing IBM i. Simple enough?
BTW.. Love the new logo. Not only are we saying goodbye to the OS name i5/OS, once OS/400… now just IBM i.
And for hardware: System i, once iSeries, AS/400, and others before my time… now merged with System p to form IBM Power Systems.
But we’re also saying goodbye to the VRM version naming: so i5/OS V6R1 now simply IBM i 6.1. Believe it or not, I think this will be the toughest one for me to get over since its been around the longest.
Though I think “i” will be tough to Google. Simple is good. “IBM i” seems to Google well.
Lots of changes. I just hope these names will finally stick around. To me its always been the “i” in IBM.
PS: Blog name changes once again :)