Killing the AS400 Caveman Software Design Mentality 

 June 8, 2011

By  NickLitten

Why are so many IBMi developers still stuck in the same application design thought process they had 20 years ago? Why do so many IBMi developers still refer to IBM-i as AS400 (the old system that we used in the early 1990’s)? Why are some people still writing batch report programs and 5250 green screen enquiries?

Evolving past the boundaries of the 5250 display and the reams of printed paperwork is not a paradigm shift.

I want to display IBMi data in a browser, reports as a PDF or spreadsheet, sharing data via a windows network, allowing access via mobile (Droid, Blackberry, iPhone, etc) browsers to the workforce. A whole new world of information-presentation options. If we mobilize IBMi applications our users will be effective from more locations, making them more responsive to changing business conditions. Virtually everybody in every office in every business corner has a working knowledge of the internet and web-based technologies. Web applications are pervasive across all age groups and cultures.

AS400 Caveman Software Design MentalityOK, so most web applications are in the form of social websites (Facebook, MySpace, Forums, Flickr, Match, etc..) but equally people are comfortable ordering online, bidding online and even specifying and building their next car, direct from the manufacturer, online. Web Applications are commonly used, need to little or no training to feel user-comfortable. Both our users and our customers have technical expecations and its our job to exceed them.

If our users see the AS/400 as an old fashioned mainframe – guess how they will feel about working on it.

If our users see webpage applications, clean modern fonts, graphics, spreadsheets then we will not only exceed the expectations of customers, but also of our user base.

Every (so-called) AS400 site in the world should be asking themselves “If so many other businesses are readily accessible via the web, why aren’t we?

If you need help then drop me a line…


IBM i Software Developer, Digital Dad, AS400 Anarchist, RPG Modernizer, Shameless Trekkie, Belligerent Nerd, Englishman Abroad 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 remember: If at first you don't succeed then skydiving probably isn't a hobby you should look into.

Nick Litten

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