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Need Another Reason to Convert to RPG IV?

June 23, 2017

Lately we've seen some sure signs that at long last RPGers are beginning to appreciate the power of RDi. The "signs" are that we have recently received similar questions from a number of new RDi users. To be more precise, the questions aren't the same, but the answer is the same.

Questions include:

- I opened an RPG program and I didn't see all the great Outline View features you demonstrated the other day. What do I need to do to get Outline to work?
- I don't see the data type and size of my variables when I hover over them in the RPG program I'm working on. How do I turn on that feature?
- Content assist (Ctrl+Space) works in some but not all my RPG programs. What do I need to do?

The underlying problem behind all of these questions turned out to be that the programs involved were RPG/400 programs—not RPG IV (i.e., RPG members, not RPGLE). I'm sure it comes as no big surprise to many of our readers that sadly there's still a lot of RPG/400 code out there.

So how can these people get Outline or hover info or content assist to work for those programs? This is one rare case where our answer isn't "Put in a Request for Enhancement (RFE) for that feature to be supported in RPG/400." Because even if you did put it there, we can't imagine it would get many votes from the rest of the community. And even if it did garner a large number, to be honest, we suspect IBM would still put it near the bottom of the priority list.

The best answer to the question of how to get those things to work is "convert the program to RPG IV"!

Sure, RDi still has a ton of benefit over SEU, even for RPG/400 code. But to take advantage of many the best features, RPG IV is the only place be!

We've written many times over the years trying to convince people to convert all that RPG/400 code to RPG IV. In fact we were a little depressed to find this one that we wrote about way back in 2003: "By Now, the Case for RPG IV Should Be a No-Brainer." That was written even before free format logic, much less free format definitions, open access, XML processing, etc. were added to the language.

Only recently did it occur to us to add another argument to the list for converting to RPG IV: To take advantage of many of the best RDi features.

So if all the fabulous new RPG language enhancements aren't enough to get you to think about converting the code, maybe the new RDi enhancements will do the trick!

I'm sure many of you are thinking that surely shops that haven't even switched to using RPG IV would not have switched to using RDi. And for the most part, you may be right about that.

Where we run into these questions are typically in shops where they have been coding all the new programs in RPG IV—probably free format—for quite some time. They have likely even converted many of their programs to RPGLE and perhaps free format. But there often seem to be a number of those programs that just never made the transition. Maybe now is the time and maybe RDi is the reason!

IBM's CVTRPGSRC is free. But of course, it's also not very good - at least in terms of automatically taking advantage of most of RPG IV's features. But it is very good at creating code that will compile and behave exactly the same as the old RPG/400 program did. At least it's a step in the right direction and you get your Outline View!

Even better, use a third party tool. The one we have the most experience with is packaged in Linoma's RPG Toolbox, which we like a lot. It provides a one-step way to go from RPG/400 all the way to fully free format if you want - or anywhere in between. Alternatively you could run  CVTRPGSRC, then run one of the various free format converters to go the rest of the way. Some have a price tag—such as ARCAD Transformer RPG —and some are open source and free, as is the case with this set of tools from Craig Rutledge.

We said it back in 2003: By Now, the case for RPG IV should be a no-brainer.

Maybe in 2017 we need to add "… for ALL your RPG code!"

Posted June 23, 2017| Permalink