Paul Tuohy on IBM i Highlights of 2016
By Paul Tuohy / January 9, 2017
Paul recaps the year 2016 in the world of IBM i.
Paul looks back at the IBM i highlights of 2016 and looks forward to 2017.
Paul: Hi everybody and welcome to another iTalk with Tuohy. Well since this is the first iTalk of 2017, I am going to do what is becoming customary for me with these iTalks is do a review of what happened in 2016 and sort of maybe give a little wish list of what I want for 2017. I think it was this year for the first time I was really in a position where I could just sort of say⎯well hang on. I did this a year ago and a year ago I had a wish list for things that I wanted to happen in 2016 so how many of my wishes came true?
Well I know 2016 for a lot of us has been a really strange year, I mean outside the world of IBM i. But within the world of IBM i actually I didn't do too badly on my wish list. The first sort of wish that I had was that when I was doing these iTalks that they would continue to be as much fun for me as they had been in 2015. Well, they lived up to it and I would just like to thank everybody that I did an iTalk with in 2016, some really good fun iTalks and even whether I did them live face to face with somebody or over Skype or over the phone, just made some great new friends doing iTalks. I think that is the best way of putting it.
One of the other things that I wished for, and I will be honest with you, when I was making that wish in early 2016, I really did not think I was going to see it was that there would a MAC version of RDI. There is now a MAC version of RDI. If IBM did nothing else in 2016, they made me happy with that I can tell you.
One of the other things I wanted, I wished for, was that I would keep meeting people who were in their 20s on the platform and this came true actually in unexpected ways as well. I keep meeting people on courses that I'm giving who are straight out of college and companies are now just making that sensible thing of just employing people as programmers and RPG especially now that it's completely free form is now just another language that they can use. But the unexpected bit I think really came for me with this was not just having young people as students (and you can check out the iTalk with them for more details that I did with them), was a young gentleman called Liam Allan from the U.K. Not only is Liam a young guy working on the platform but he is also a speaker and we actually had him along to speak at the RPG and DB2 Summit that we had in Chicago and looking forward to having back speaking with us at the Summit in Orlando in March. So this Liam, when I say young gentleman by the way, 19 years old and just goes to show that even though you may be old and long in the tooth as I am, you still have a lot to learn from young people coming in on the platform.
Sort of the fourth wish⎯I mean, OK we will end on a little downer on what my wishes were for 2016⎯was I wanted a better database interface. Now this is something that has not been delivered in 2016 but the good news is that there are strides being made in the right direction with ACS Access Client solutions and the database functionality in there and also the fact that most of the database stuff that does into ACS is accessible from within RDI so heading in the right direction so I am going to add to my wish list early here for 2017 hopefully all of that will come to fruition in the upcoming months.
So then, then looking back on 2016 what were sort of the maybe not on my wish list but big things that happened and that stood out in my mind. Well of course one of the big things on the platform was the V7 R3 was released. Maybe it's just me but I think the fact that we know have all of these technology releases, I think the impetus of the big version release has been lost a little bit and does not have quite the impact that it used to have unless maybe you're a hardware guy and a lot of that side of it may be more impressive to you but definitely from the software side, I think it lost a little bit of it but having said that whether it be a technology release or an actual full blown system release, a lot of good things came out with the technology release and V7 R3 throughout the year. Of course, I'm talking here just primarily from my point of view from the application development side, this continued enhancement that goes on with the database and making just the database even better than it already is, it is one of the things that just struck me recently.
I was having a conversation with a couple of people at a conference and one of the things I started to realize was that when we go through the whole modernization process, it's quite incredible how much of modernization actually means take a lot of logic that we currently have in programs and replace it with logic that is incorporated in the database so obvious things that come into play with that would be things like constraints, especially foreign key constraints, check constraints, and again maybe out into areas then like triggers as well which simplifies the way applications work. This is a whole area whether it just be the introduction of new scale or functions that make life better.
Then of course touching on that as well again on the database side is all the work that people like Scott Forstie and his team have done with the DB2 services in here. These are sets of views and stored procedures and that that make the whole Ops Admin side even easier for people. Well, you are going to hear a little bit about actually in an upcoming iTalk I think probably the next one I'm going to do will be with Scott and we are going to be talking a bit more about some of those services and how they relate to database engineers in there.
Again, touching on the database and I touched on it already was this whole things of ACS Access Client solutions. Nice to see that coming along; I just want it to come along quicker. I want more in there; I want more integration with RDI but it is great to see that is actually being done.
Of course, RPG continues to be enhanced and I think we can see good things coming along in the near future with that. I should just swing back on the database things because I'm trying to pick out things that stood out for me.
One of the fun things and even though it is not directly one of the DB2 services, it is one of the functions that is available in SysTools where a lot of these services are kept that was in there which is the HTTP Get FOB. This is a function that I wrote an article about using and I used it as a way of getting an RPG program to talk to Watson. This is one of the fun things that I got to work on in 2016. Now the idea of talking to Watson, I know it sounds very impressive but let's be honest about it. It is basically just talking a web service. I mean a lot of what Watson provides is available through web services but it was just how easy it actually was to consume a web service using embedded SQL using one function. It was a really, really neat thing and one of the fun things that I got to work on in 2016.
The other sort of highlights that are out there, OK I've already mentioned the iTalks. I think the other big highlight really has been again this thing with young people. I do get sort of a little bit upset I think more so in 2016 because there were a couple of times it came across from strongly from people that I would meet and that where they would be very critical of sort of saying you can't get programmers for the platform. That's why people are moving away. Again I just want to emphasize yes, you can get people for the platform and whether or not they are trained directly in RPG like with some of the great work that people like Jim Buck are doing or people who are teaching RPG in college or that but the fact that RPG is now just another programming language so please, just go and employ programmers. Don't get hung up on whether or not they know RPG. That's the easy part.
So what is 2017 going to hold for us? My wish list is just really down to one now and that's that proper database interface. That's all I want to see: a good, good, good work being done in ACS and just keep developing that and I will have what I want by the end of 2017. You see? You see? Isn't it easy to keep me happy?
Again, I want to see just the continued influx of young people onto the platform. I look forward to meeting more of them throughout the year. I'm kind of hopefully actually that I might be doing a little trip back to Sweden but early days and early discussions on that yet.
I suppose as is my want actually just looking back on 2016 it is usual in iTalks that I touch on something personal with people. I'm going to touch on something personal for myself because I had a big highlight in 2016 in that for the first time I became a grandfather. And so I have now, born on⎯my friends in America will love this⎯4th of July, so, Catherine Eva my granddaughter has become the new center of everything that is meaningful. So I'm sorry. All IBM i and that sort of has now sort of moved into that you know third place behind granddaughter, family, and finally work.
So just to remind any of you that with the iTalks, again if you have a topic that you would like me to touch on or if you have somebody you think people would be interested in hearing them chat with me, please drop me a note and let me know. But apart from that, let me wish you all the best for 2017. I hope you all have a peaceful, happy, and a prosperous New Year. I look forward to talking to you all again on the next iTalk. Bye for now.
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Paul Tuohy has specialized in application development and training on IBM midrange systems for more than 20 years.
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