RPG4 is not a new Rocket Propelled Grenade

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May 24, 2010

I occasionally get an email from RPG programmers out there in IBMi-Land who have spent the last decade gently plodding along in RPG3 and RPG400 and now face the daunting prospect of having to hone there RPG skills and learn RPG4 (or RPG-LE or /FREE as its also called). So, I’ve quickly cobbled together links and information from various sources on the web and dropped it here for reference.

What Software Tool do I use to write RPG?

Three main choices really:

  1. Windows IBM Rational Developer for I – the successor to WDSC but comes at a hefty $900ish seat license
  2. Or download a copy of the old Windows WDSC7 (Websphere Developers Toolkit). This graphical IDE based on Eclipse is my tool of choice.
  3. Or go dino-style and use 5250 emulation and green screen SEU (Source Entry Facility)
Note: Another free and quite excellent solution is to check out RPG NEXT GEN – This free Windows Code Editor is a lightweight RPG editor solely based on the Eclipse platform. If you have never used a Windows Software Development tool before then start with NextGen first… its simple, lightweight and gives you a good feel for what the heavier WDSC and RDi apps have to offer.

Why do I keep hearing about RPG Free Format?

If you’re used to the old RPG3 and RPG400 Column based code layout then seeing modern RPG using the free format (ie: sort of looks like Java) will blow your mind. This modern language, written in modern free format terminated with a ‘;’ is awesome and once you start writing code in /free you will hate returning to column based layout. RPG4 as its commonly known – rocks.

RPG4 is not a new Rocket Propelled Grenade 1

If you want to lose yourself in a forum filled with RPG ramblings check out Code400 – grab a coffee and browse the forums… hours of fun!

What is RPG called now?

RPG/II has retired. RPG/III was last seen in an old folks home. RPG/400 is obsolete. There haven’t been any changes to RPG/400 in a long, long, looong time – like well over a decade. The current version of RPG is ILE RPG, often called RPG/IV.

Upgrading Your Existing RPG Skills

There are books on every System i topic that you can imagine, plus there are e-Learning classes, Computer Based Training, Power Tips and more.

My favorite is this infamous and “Sorcerers Guide” Redbook

[pullquote align=”normal” cite=”IBM Pointy Heads”]Who Knew You Could Do That with RPG IV? A Sorcerer’s Guide to System Access and More. This is easily the best Redbook that IBM has ever published. It’s focus is to teach someone who’s already familiar with RPG IV, a series of advanced topics, including ILE, Subprocedures, APIs, Sockets, IFS, Database Access and so much more. The link is to a Partner400.com web page where they will explain how to search out the Redbook on IBM’s site.[/pullquote]

There are books on every System i topic that you can imagine, plus there are e-Learning classes, Computer Based Training, Power Tips and more.

Programming in RPG IV, Fourth Edition by Bryan Meyers and Jim Buck This is a tutorial-style book that teaches you RPG from the beginning. It’s an ideal book for both teaching yourself RPG and for a textbook for an RPG class. The Modern RPG IV Language by Bob Cozzi This book has some tutorial-style information, but is more focused on acting as reference material. Once you’ve learned the language, you’ll want a quick way to look up and use the operations that are available, and that’s where this book comes in handy. RPG IV Jump Start, Fourth Edition By Bryan Meyers If you’re already familiar with the basics of the RPG language, you don’t need to start from scratch. This book teaches you the differences between RPG III and RPG IV, allowing you to update your skills.


Free Materials

All of the IBM manuals for the System i are available at no charge over the Internet. They’re found in the Information Center on IBM’s web site. The URL for the information center is: https://www.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/ssw_ibm_i

Or you can jump to the IBMi V6.1 website and type ‘RPG’ into the search box: https://www.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/ssw_ibm_i_61/welcome.html

You might want to refill your coffee cup 😉


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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