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A Guide to RDi on Mac

Jon Paris Susan Gantner

Our regular readers know that we are huge fans to two things: RDi (aka Rational Developer for i) and Mac. Until recently we couldn’t use those favorite things together. We did, of course, manage to use RDi on our Macbook Pro laptops by running a Windows virtual machine, but it was far from an ideal situation.

That all changed back in September when V9.5.1 of RDi was announced, which included a version of RDi that runs natively on OS X (which is more recently known as macOS - apparently IBM aren’t the only ones to rename operating systems!). We will use the older OS X name here since that’s what IBM’s announcement letters on this subject used. We rejoiced that we could finally do our development without running Windows! (Read more here.) The support is not 100 percent⎯there are limitations and we’re still discovering new differences between the Mac and Windows versions of RDi on a regular basis.

So we decided that it’s a good time to take a closer look at some of those differences in hopes that we may be able to help other current and future Mac users over the hurdle of switching from using RDi on Windows to using RDi on Mac.

The Big Picture

First of all, our overall view is great! Limitations, differences even some inconsistencies aside, we both love using RDi in OS X. Some of the limits that we had expected to be major issues have turned not to be as earth shattering as we anticipated.

Some of the differences in the Mac version go with the territory of being a Mac application. For example, “Preferences” and “About” are not under the Window menu, but instead under the base RDi menu (just as they are with most other Mac apps). And speaking of the menus in the menu bar, in OS X the menu bar itself is pinned to the top of the screen⎯not part of the RDi workbench window⎯just as with other Mac applications.

Then there’s the whole issue that native Mac keyboards are slightly different from Windows keyboards. These differences are fairly easy to adjust to and most people moving from Windows to Mac have learned to deal with these differences already. We will cover some of the keyboard difference issues that took us some time to figure out here and in the Keyboard Shortcuts section on page 2.

Since native Mac keyboards don’t have an Insert key, it’s important to know that you can switch between Replace and Insert modes when editing code by double clicking on the word “Replace” or “Insert” at the top of the RDi editor window. As it turns out, this is true in the Windows version as well, but since most Windows keyboards have an Insert key, it is not often used. Our Windows virtual machines had a pre-configured a shortcut that replaced the Insert key functionality so we had been using that. But now that we’re using RDi natively, we decided that it would be nice to have a keyboard shortcut option to toggle between insert and replace mode.

Jon Paris is a technical editor with IBM Systems Magazine and co-owner of Partner400.

Susan Gantner is a technical editor with IBM Systems Magazine and co-owner of Partner400.

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