Upgrade to Rational Developer for Power Systems Software 8.5.1, and learn how to post a Request for Enhancement to the product
With this tip, I originally intended to describe the upgrade process from Rational Developer for Power Systems Software (RD Power) Version 8.5 to fix pack version 8.5.1. However, as I dug deeper into the posted Request for Enhancements (RFEs), I found myself more enthralled with the possible future of application development using RD Power. Besides, other forums have already discussed at length the enhancements in 8.5.1. So here, I summarize the upgrade process and then discuss RFEs. As I walk through the process, I show only some of the screens (I omitted the more obvious ones).
Upgrading to Fix Pack 8.5.1
Before you install the fix pack via the Installation Manager, identify the current version of RD Power that you're using. You can easily do this by selecting Help|About IBM Rational Developer for Power Systems Software. As Figure 1 shows, I was running version 8.5.0.
Figure 1: Verifying current version of RD Power
After I chose my current 8.5.0 instance, Installation Manager found Version 8.5.1 on the web. At this point, simply select the new version and click Next to continue (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Selecting 8.5.1 version of RD Power
Next, accept the license agreement and choose the particular features you want to download. Because I already have RPG and COBOL development tools loaded, those tools were preselected for updating (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Installation Manager preselects features already loaded for updating
The download took several minutes on my machine, nothing too terrible. Certainly, the speed and quality of your Internet connection will affect your download time. At the bottom of Figure 4, the progress bar shows that the update file size is 417 MB.
Figure 4: Progress bar displaying update file size
Success! The update installed seamlessly. Note the 8.5.1 displayed on the launch screen in Figure 5.
Figure 5: RP Power 8.5.1 launch screen
Now that we've completed the update, let's discuss how some of these enhancements came to be.
Request for Enhancements
You've likely read about the RD Power challenges and the fixes now available for version 8.5.0. How does IBM keep its finger on the pulse of the user community, making sure it's delivering relevant patches and enhancements such as the live Outline view? That's easy—through the RFE Community page.
Figure 6 shows the Rational RFE Community page, which started in April 2008.
Figure 6: Rational RFE Community page
I've spoken with several IBMers who have said repeatedly how important this community is to them.
To create your own RFE, you first must have an authorized login to the IBM developerWorks website. Clicking here will take you to the sign-in page (Figure 7).
Figure 7: developerWorks sign-in page
After you log in, type "RFE" in the Search developerWorks section to open the page in Figure 8.
Figure 8: Enter "RFE" into the Search box
I was always taught how much influence we as citizens yield with the power of our votes. The same appears to be mostly true within the confines of the RFE community. It's apparent that a majority of votes isn't the only deciding factor in determining which RFEs to implement. The RFE must fall within the product's ultimate direction. This can explain why IBM selects certain functions receiving fewer votes over those getting more votes.
In addition to submitting your own RFE, you can track your RFEs and search for others as they flow through the system, as well as save these searches and easily retrieve them to conduct other searches of the RFE inventory. The site also lets you create a watch list for the RFEs you're most interested in tracking.
As an RFE is processed, it's assigned a status. On the page in Figure 9, you can see what each status means.
Figure 9: RFE status values and definitions
One filter I find useful is the Top 20 voted RFEs, which displays the enhancements most asked for by the community plus IBM's responses. As Figure 10 shows, I restricted the view to RD Power only.
Figure 10: RD Power Top 20 voted RFEs
What Does the Future Hold?
Many articles have discussed the enhancements to RD Power 8.5.1, focusing mostly on the live update of the Outline view and Content Assist. What I find equally, or perhaps even more, interesting are the RFEs that are in Uncommitted Candidate status. I love the possibility of indenting existing code similar to how LPEX's convert to free form does, as well as using an enhancement to show block nesting for Else and When statements. The notion of integrating IBM i Access database functions is just as intriguing. We're all keenly aware that even IBM has limited resources for any one product. However, that shouldn't prevent you from posting your requests. Who knows—the next best thing that IBM implements might be one of your RFEs.