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From the trenches hits the nail

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I am glad to see people responded to my recentFrom the Trenches article. One person said the article hit the nail on the head. What are we, as customers to do? IBM seems oblivious to what their current, paying customers want from development tools and opportunities. What is the best way to get them to evolve, when a revolution on our part is not possible or desired?

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Discuss this Blog Entry 9

ugeerts (not verified)
on Jan 19, 2006
Don't dispair if your're on the lookout for as/400 - iseries hardware. In Europe, Germany, prices on EBAY in euro are almost equal to the system's CPW value. That "almost" means a multiplication factor of 1.00 to 1.50 multiplied by the CPW value. The factor tends to reach to 1.00 for large footprint, file cabinet, systems or systems still on version V4R5. Smaller systems, size PC, or V5R2 have a factor 1.50. What does this mean in practice? Example: A Model 740, CPW 500, V4R5 sells for 500.00 Euro ($600.00). A Model 820, CPW 2000, V5R2 sells for less than 3000.00 Euro ($3600.00). These prices are a lot cheaper than what you would pay in the US, but then again, the market in Europe for used hw has collapsed long time ago. BTW: if you are interested in buying used hw from Germany, send a mail to: L55Hoh@aol.com
on Jan 26, 2006
Absolutely, Nathan. Here's a couple of thoughts I've had on it: Given that the browser has no more capabilities than full Windows 5250 emulation, the current DDS keyword set should already be sufficient or close to what is needed for generating user interface independent screens, such as 5250 green screens, the browser, and richer client interfaces such as Java, Windows, and KDE. Additional keywords would help richer interfaces do more work, but wouldn't be required. The key is not how pretty the interface is, the key is integration. One of the ironies of this failed experiment is that the browser provides less integration that even a Windows 5250 emulation program. At least it was a Windows program, and thus the designers could build in integration with the outside world with it. But that world was Windows, the world of our business users, the world where people perform their work, the world that chooses what to buy and what interface to work with. It is the lowest common denominator mentality of IBM that brought us to this point, a world where the lowest powered display and the lowest powered database access is their choice because it is easy and runs anywhere. Our business users don't have anywhere, they have somewhere, and they will buy the most powerful solutions provided for their somewhere. We have to provide that powerful solution, and it requires a user interface that integrates with the rest of the world, be it Windows COM, Java JNI, Linux KDE/Gnome, Unix X-Windows, sockets, and even other 5250 sessions open on our interface. Integration is what people are looking for, not a pretty display. We are not providing either. Whoever does will win, and for my career I hope we at least stay in the game. rd
on Jan 23, 2006
Bringing the discussion back on target, the following is an interesting quote from a Developer Directions document published by IBM in September 2005. "IBM is looking into the feasibility of enhancing the ILE RPG and COBOL languages to provide integrated support for other than 5250 UIs. This support will allow developers to work with a generic Web UI similar to how they work with 5250 screens today and provide the same integration capabilities as today’s WRKSTN device. This way RPG and COBOL programmers can use their language skills to write powerful Web applications." Who knows whether HTML might be generated from DDS or not, but it seems that IBM is at least investigating the possibility of supporting browsers through something comparable to a WRKSTN interface. Technically, they've already provided that via Webfacing, but maybe they have an entirely native solution in mind.
on Jan 23, 2006
Well, those are awfully low prices alright. But do they include the OS and any additional software? That's where an owner will get killed anyways, not in the hardware. Plus, it's just too hard for most people to get their hands on iSeries machines. The VARs and IBM are holding the iSeries too close to their vests. I suspect the control issues with software and hardware are just too hard for IBM to get past; there's really no way in hell they would ever come out with an easy to buy cheap but good loss leader type of gear to attract new iSeries customers. IBM just prefers to have their service contracts with big shops and leave the "small" stuff to MS, Intel, and AMD.
Rick VanderPol (not verified)
on Jan 19, 2006
Recently two friends that are contract programmers tried to purchase an iSeries on the web. Guess what, they were not successful. Each time the web site asked who their local VAR was. You know IBM, sometimes I just don't think you are smart enough to find your way home after a hard day's work. Can you tell me WHY you don't want to sell computers? It's really simple... First you build a web site and then you allow credit cards to be used. Oh, and then you take their money and ship their iSeries! See that wasn't so hard was it? You get MONEY the CUSTOMER gets their beloved computer. Why are you goof balls so intent on destroying the best computer in the world!!! Actually you high paid bone heads need to stop using your head as a "hat rack" and market the system. But not only market the system... but SELL IT! I currently manage 27 iSeries. The company direction is to pull the plug on every last one of them. Oh, do you care? Probably not! My boss has the perfect slogan to the iSeries. Can you imagine if the business men/women saw this add in the Wall Street Journal. Oh that's right... you might sell computers. Anyway, it reads... "Why does Vegas rely on the iSeries? Because THEY don't GAMBLE". IBM... when you completely destroy the iSeries, will you send me to school to learn a new system? You're probably agree to that because you can sign up for classes on line!
ugeerts (not verified)
on Jan 25, 2006
Reply to bruce shaw. Yes, these machines have the OS, proof of ownership and other legal documents included. As you say, VAR's keep these systems close to their vest and rather scratch them instead of selling at these bottom prices, unless they are not aware of these systems. Two most common cases (at least in Germany) are companies getting rid of iSeries, going to another not-IBM hardware and in a lesser degree, company insolvencies.
on Jan 26, 2006
"IBM is looking into the feasibility of enhancing the ILE RPG and COBOL languages to provide integrated support for other than 5250 UIs." Wow, that would be quite amazing. Hope they know what they are getting themselves into. Frameworks can get tricky quick. Though if they developed web UI fucntionality to be as easy as RPG file access I would be very excited to use it. Are the leads finally seeing that RPG being proprietary to iSeries is a GOOD thing instead of a bad thing? That's one thing that bothers me about Java sometimes is that there is so much flexibility that it takes hours to setup a simple app to do backend DB connectivity (depending on the tools you use), but with RPG you are more or less built right into the system - simply beautiful! Anyways, should be interesting to see/hear what comes from the quotes stated here. The question that won't leave my mind as RPG is being looked at for these enhancements is should they rename it to shed the old biases of RPG? Or at least redefine RPG to mean something other than Report Program Generator? If you follow the industry's standards of naming things you don't even have to use the beginning of words :-) (i.e. eXtensible Markup Language) How about Resourceful Programming enGine? :-) http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=resourceful http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=Programming http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=engine Aaron Bartell http://mowyourlawn.com/blog
on Jan 25, 2006
"IBM is looking into the feasibility of enhancing the ILE RPG and COBOL languages to provide integrated support for other than 5250 UIs." Nathan, that's great news to hear! I would think that would be a good story for the reporters here to cover. I hope we hear more details soon. Thanks. rd
on Jan 26, 2006
" Nathan, that's great news to hear! I would think that would be a good story for the reporters here to cover." How likely would it be for IBM to comment publicly about a technology that's in the feasibility-evaluation phase? RPG V5R4 is said to provide integrated support for XML parsing, which could be used for Web services, but the details are sketchy at best, even though the release is eminent. On the other hand, so long as IBM is in the evaluation phase of their Web workstation interface, it seems that any suggestions posted publicly could impact their thoughts. One Idea that has been repeated in several forums is that the browser interface should be generated from DDS or extensions to DDS, thus saving the RPG programmer from learning HTML, JavaScript, etc. Microsoft does something similar in .Net, where the stated direction is to enable developers to deploy both thick clients and thin clients from the same UI controls. For example, the following is an example of a list box UI component:
<asp:ListBox
 DataMember="mymbr"
 Enabled="true"
 Font-Name="arial"
 OnInit="listInit()"
 OnDataBinding="listBind()"
 Rows="10" Visible="true">
 <asp:ListItem value="1" text="Item Number One" />
 <asp:ListItem value="2" text="Item Number Two" />
 <asp:ListItem value="3" text="Item Number Three" />
The code doesn't seem to display in "Preview" mode, but let's see if "Post" fixes it. The idea is that a proprietary tag language is used to define UI components, and the generated components have a method of generating HTML. myListBox.toHTML(), for example.

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