*RPG – NO, RPG Developer doesnt mean that I write Role Playing Games, primarily aimed at men in basements pretending they are fit young elven women and running around casting spells 😉
So, as an RPG* Developer I am definitely biased towards IBM’s best and most versatile language. IBM RPG has evolved massively from the early Report Program Generator that it was designed to be. The latest Incarnation of RPG is a leading edge web -savvy object oriented SOA language.
Here is my personal version of how RPG has evolved:
System/38 was a descendant of the abandoned IBM Future Systems project, which had been designed as the replacement for the System/360 and System/370mainframe architectures. System/38 offered more capacity than the previous IBM computer system, System/34. Somewhat confusingly, System/38 chronologically preceded System/36 which was a successor to the System/34.
System/38 was superseded by the AS/400 (which also supported System/36 data & programs, at least to some extent). The AS/400 evolved into the iSeries, which in turn evolved into the System i. The System/38 legacy lives on in the enterprise-class IBM POWER Systems server which superseded System i in 2008.
Just to confuse things from this point onwards RPG is sometimes called RPG IV, sometimes called RPG5 or sometimes just RPG. For the sake of clarity I will call this level of RPG’s evolution RPGLE. Definitely the largest change to RPG is that you can now break the RPG source code out into a free style format, no longer being limited to column based and inline with the more popular languages like Java and C++.
Each subsequent release of IBM operating system included many code tweaks and enhancements to this new modern RPGLE language
Since the turn of the century, after realising that the world didnt end with a giant Y2K Fizzle, I have used the free-form syntax for the bulk of new code development: It’s easier to read, simpler to maintain and can be followed by programmers who are fluent in other languages because of it’s layout similarities and common codeword’s. Obviously older programs are maintained in the same version of RPG3/4/LE with each program modification taken into consideration.
RPG’s Free-form syntax is a huge improvement to the RPG language and has many productivity advantages. Developers are finally no longer bound by the fixed columns of traditional RPG calculations. Now you can simply enter your RPG logic in a natural left-to-right fashion, similar to the coding style in other modern languages (i.e. Java and Visual Basic).
While the free-form syntax only is allowed in the area where C specifications are normally entered, it is definitely a huge step in the right direction.
Roll on RPG… keep evolving…. thats what I say.
IBM i Software Developer, Digital Dad, AS400 Anarchist, RPG Modernizer, Alpha Nerd and Passionate Eater of Cheese and Biscuits. Nick Litten Dot Com is a mixture of blog posts that can be sometimes serious, frequently playful and probably down-right pointless all in the space of a day. Enjoy your stay, feel free to comment and in the words of the most interesting man in the world: Stay thirsty my friend.
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