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In Search of RDi Perfection

RDi, Rational Developer for i, perfection, bulls eye

In our last EXTRA article, “Fun Times for RDi Users With V9.5 Enhancements,” we covered the highlights of the recent enhancements in Rational Developer for i (RDi). As good as it is, there’s always room for improvement with any software product. Fortunately, the development team for RDi has a mechanism whereby users can voice their opinions on what enhancements are most needed. Not only can we all submit our own ideas to make RDi better, we can also vote for the best suggestions that others have made. We can do this via the RFE (Request for Enhancement) process.

We’ve blogged on the RFE process in the past but a few things about it have changed recently, so even if you’ve been there before, read on for the new information. For those of you who haven’t been to the RFE site yet, we’ll cover the basics first.

Why Bother?

We urge every RDi user (or would-be user, if it only had this killer feature) to go the RFE site today, even if you don’t have a specific new enhancement idea to put in. Why? Partly because you may find some enhancements have been delivered that you didn’t hear about when a new release came out (that has happened to us a few times).

But more importantly, you should add your votes to the RFEs that you think are really good ideas. You see, IBM doesn’t just have this process in place to give us a chance to feel like we have some input into what they do with the product—it actually pays attention. If you read the announcement letters closely, you’d notice that every recent release or point release of RDi has identified all the RFEs that were addressed in that release.

It matters. IBM listens. So vote!

We’re not suggesting that you go out there and just blindly throw votes on every RFE. That’s no more helpful than not voting at all. Instead, look at the ideas out there and vote only for the ones you really think IBM should focus on—things that will make a big difference to you in your daily work.

As we mentioned, we have blogged about this before. But we are revisiting this topic for two main reasons.

First, apparently we weren’t very successful at convincing a lot of you to vote before, so we’re trying again. We say that because if you look at some of the RFEs out there, we’re amazed at the number of them that currently have fewer than 100 votes. Even some of the “Delivered” RFEs had a surprisingly small number of votes. What a wasted opportunity—a chance to tell IBM what we want, what we really, really want, and so few of us take advantage of it.

Second, if you’re among the select few who have been there and voted and/or submitted ideas, things have changed recently that may confuse you. Read on.

Finding RFEs for RDi

You can find the RFE site on developerWorks (dW). You will need an IBM ID to submit or vote on RFEs, so click on the Sign in link near the top right of the DW screen (highlighted in Figure 1). If you don’t have an ID yet, there’s a button to create one on the sign in screen.

In the past blog posts, we suggested that you could filter or search for RFEs specifically related to RDi (as opposed to tons of other products, many on other platforms) by making sure you specify the brand (Rational before, but no more) and product (Developer for Power Systems—yes, we know the name has changed but IBM dW apparently doesn’t).

Here’s the news: Next time you go to look at RFEs for RDi, you’ll need to specify for brand “Servers and Systems Software” rather than Rational. The image in Figure 1 shows the initial Overview tab with those options filled. Pressing the arrow to the right of the selection boxes filters the content of the screen below. Note also the options to show the Hot items (i.e., the most votes in the last three months), the Top items (those with the most votes to-date) or the New items (those submitted in the last month).

Why would a product called “Rational Developer…” not be considered a “Rational” brand any more? It turns out that the development team for RDi as well as the IBM i compilers have changed their reporting structure within IBM. They were previously part of the Rational team in the general software division for IBM, but they have recently changed and are now part of the IBM i Operating System Development team under the Systems Group. We think that’s a great move since it means the RDi development team will be much more closely aligned with the IBM i team.

So despite the somewhat irrational (pun intended) impact the reporting structure change makes to those of us looking for information on RDi RFEs, it should be a really good thing. A few of the other search options have also changed in somewhat irrational ways, so we’ll recap what you need to remember when you visit the RFE site on developerWorks.

You may have noticed on the screen shown in Figure 1 that there is a Search tab. If you’d like to explore some more detailed search options, give that tab a try. In some cases if you had entered the brand and product on the first tab, it will remember those on the search tab but not always. Sometimes you may need to re-enter the details. In Figure 2, you can see that there is an option to specify the brand, product family and product, but to get to RDi, all you will likely need to do is stick with specifying only the product and in the Product box, key “Developer for Power Systems” (or some portion of it) and the product options will appear in a list so you can choose that product. It will then automatically fill in the Brand and the Product family (Programming Languages - which we agree doesn’t exactly sound right for RDi, but it is).

If you click on some other search options, such as Top Requests, or if you decide to submit a new request of your own, you’ll need to enter the Brand and Product information again and potentially some other details.

So as a recap, remember the following details when searching the RFE site or when submitting new requests:

  • Brand: Servers and Systems Software (not Rational, despite the name)
  • Product: Developer for Power Systems (yes, the outdated name)
  • Product family: Programming Languages (not Development tooling, go figure)
  • Component: RPG/COBOL Development tools (hey, they got one right!)

We’re just desperately hoping that all this isn’t a prelude to another name change for our favorite development tool. Maybe we can put in a Request for No Enhancement: “Please do NOT ‘enhance’ the name again.” Or, if a name change is required, hopefully we can find one that still allows us to use the RDi acronym (perhaps “RPG [and COBOL] Developer for i”?).

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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