Want to Upgrade to IBM i V7? Learn Why You Should

Aug 10, 2023 Aiswarya Madhu

RPG (Report Program Generator) is a high-level programming language developed by IBM in 1959 to provide a systematic way to process data and generate reports on early IBM systems. Over the years, RPG has undergone several updates, including RPG II, RPG III, and RPG IV (ILE RPG). RPG IV is the most current version and is widely used on IBM i (formerly known as AS/400 or iSeries) systems.

With continuous updates and modernization efforts, IBM i RPG IV remains relevant and adaptable to meet evolving business requirements.

The 2023 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results indicate that RPG continues to be the most widely used language for new development on the IBM i platform, with an impressive 93% adoption rate among developers.

However, modern organizations often find themselves facing a crucial challenge - how to modernize these legacy systems like RPG, in an age where RPG programmers are retiring or on the verge of retirement.

To address this issue and ensure business continuity, modern organizations are seeking reliable solutions. RPG support programs offer a lifeline to organizations seeking to navigate the complexities of legacy systems and overcome the challenges posed by retiring RPG experts.

Understanding RPG Programming Efficiency

RPG Version Release Year Key Features
IBM i V7
  • Offers seamless integration of modern coding practices, simplifying code writing and maintenance.
  • Provides the most intuitive and efficient RPG programming experience to date on IBM i systems.
IBM i V6
  • Carries forward the advancements of RPG V, enabling programmers to work with ease and creativity.
  • Represents the latest milestone, a fully free-format language with unmatched flexibility.
IBM i V5
  • Supports longer field names, source-level debugging, and additional data types.
  • Introduced free-format expressions and built-in functions for improved efficiency.
  • Offered free-format expressions and built-in functions.
  • Free-format version building on RPG IV, offering enhanced coding flexibility.
  • Continues to be a free-format version, evolving from RPG IV and RPG V.
RPG IV 1994
  • Added longer field names and source-level debugging.
  • Included date and time support and additional data types.
  • Offered free-format expressions and built-in functions.
  • Free-format version building on RPG IV, offering enhanced coding flexibility.
RPG III 1974 Geared towards larger systems like System/38 and System/370.
RPG II 1959
  • Designed for smaller IBM systems.
  • Operated with a fixed-format structure.

Leverage Free Form RPG for IBM i V7

IBM has introduced free-form RPG support, making coding easier and more flexible.

Bid Adieu to Fixed-Format Columns:

With free-form RPG, you no longer need to stick to the constraints of fixed-format columns. The modern syntax is all about operation codes and semicolons.

Familiarity with Modern Languages:

If you’re familiar with modern programming languages like Java or PHP, free-form RPG adopts a syntax similar to those modern languages, making it a breeze for you to learn and adapt.

Readability Redefined:

Long and descriptive field names are now a reality! Free-form RPG lets you use lengthier and more meaningful names for your fields, making your code readable and easy to understand.

Efficient and Creative Coding:

Multiple line definitions become a piece of cake with free-form RPG. You can now code and maintain complex structures with ease. This not only boosts efficiency but also encourages creative problem-solving in your development process.

The Magic of Compiler Directives:

Free-form RPG allows you to use /IF, /ELSEIF, /ELSE, and /ENDIF within your statements, which means you have the flexibility to create conditional expressions and control the flow of your code effortlessly.

Streamlined Data Definitions:

Defining data items with the LIKE keyword helps you save time and effort. You can easily reuse previously defined data structures without the need for repetition.

Seamless File Definitions:

Free-form RPG introduces the DCL-F statement, streamlining file definitions and allowing for easier integration with external files.

Modular Programming and Reusability Benefits

Modular Programming and Reusability are like building blocks that make software development easier and faster. In simple words, they are self-contained parts of a program that can be used repeatedly in different places.

For example, imagine you have a piece of information about customers that you need for many different tasks, like buying, invoicing, and shipping. With modular programming, you can create a single module for this customer information and use it in all these tasks without having to write the same code multiple times. In the long run, it saves time and effort and makes it easier to fix or update the code later.

RDi for RPG Development

Rational Developer for IBM i (RDi) stands as a powerful integrated development environment (IDE) crafted exclusively for IBM i application development. It presents a comprehensive toolset, empowering developers to efficiently write, edit, debug, and maintain RPG (Report Program Generator) code.

Upgrade to Rational Developer for IBM i (RDi) and get the following advantages:
  • Work on multiple source members simultaneously, enhancing efficiency and collaboration within the development team.
  • Receive instant feedback on compile errors, allowing for swift resolution and reducing development time.
  • Navigate through your RPG code effortlessly with the outline view, providing a clear overview of the program's structure and logic.
  • Take advantage of shortcut keys for common tasks, streamlining your development workflow and boosting productivity.
  • Integrate with change management and version control systems to track and manage code changes effectively, facilitating teamwork and ensuring code integrity.

Efficient Error Handling and Debugging Techniques

Efficient error handling and debugging techniques are crucial for developers to detect and address issues in their RPG programs effectively. These techniques help identify and resolve errors that may occur during program execution, improving the overall reliability and quality of the application. Here's a brief overview of how these techniques work and their benefits:

Error Handling in RPG:
  • Use indicators (error codes) to check the success of operations and identify errors.
  • Implement Structured Exception Handling" or monitoring to catch and manage specific errors.
  • Maintain a detailed error log for tracking issues and trends.
  • Facilitate early detection and resolution of errors, minimizing their impact on users and the business.
  • Improve software reliability by reducing unexpected failures and crashes.
  • Enhance user experience with informative error messages and graceful error recovery.
Debugging Techniques in RPG:
  • Utilize "Source Debugging" or Rational Developer for i (RDi) to step through program code.
  • Examine variables, data structures, and arrays during program execution.
  • Set breakpoints to pause program execution for detailed inspection.
  • Identify and fix logic errors before they become critical issues in production.
  • Analyze program flow and identify the root cause of defects for faster issue resolution.
  • Foster continuous learning and improvement by gaining insights into program behavior.

Enhance Your RPG Programming Efficiency with Custom Support

With evolving business needs and retiring IT experts, who originally shaped legacy systems like IBM i RPG, many businesses are facing challenges in supporting and maintaining their RPG applications.

At Nalashaa, we understand these concerns and offer specialized RPG Support to help businesses navigate through these complexities. Our team of iSeries/AS400 experts, well-versed in modern platforms and RPG programming, empowers your organization to efficiently manage and optimize your RPG applications.

Contact our RPG support experts today to future proof your RPG performance capabilities and streamline your business continuity.

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Aiswarya Madhu

In the ever-changing tech landscape, my mission is to craft content that simplifies complex concepts and brings the wonders of modern technology closer to my audience. With a rich experience spanning over 2 years, I have honed my skills in crafting captivating and informative content for B2B domain that deeply resonates with the tech-savvy audience. When not working, you'll often find me with a steaming cup of tea and an inspiring book, fueling my curiosity and passion for knowledge.