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New RSE Features Unveiled in WDSc V7

Remote System Explorer gains new functionality in the new WebSphere Development Studio Client V7

Remote System Explorer gains new functionality in the new WebSphere Development Studio Client V7

Many readers know we've been both users and fans of Remote System Explorer (RSE) in IBM* WebSphere* Development Studio Client (WDSc) for System i* for a long time. In the early days, it took a lot of patience - but as time went on, RSE kept getting better. While there are still things we'd love to see improved, V7 seems positioned now to convert the remaining masses of traditional host-based developers to a more modern, productive development environment. Because the basic edition of the WDSc toolset is included in the price of the compiler package and this new release has such a small hardware requirement, RSE is poised to overtake SEU and PDM in the developer's toolbox.

We'll examine some significant new features of RSE V7 and concentrate especially on those parts of the toolset oriented toward the traditional host-based RPG or COBOL application developer. The new release offers a selective install, letting developers install just the features of the toolset they want. We'll share some cool new features in the RSE editor and related views and tools, and review the new Screen Designer and Application Diagram support currently only being shipped with WDSc Advanced Edition (AE).

Selective Installation

V7's capability to selectively install parts of WDSc offers two primary benefits. The most obvious is the significantly reduced time and disk space needed to install. Perhaps more important in the long run is the faster load time and better overall performance of the smaller toolset.

If you haven't experienced installing WDSc in earlier releases, you probably can't fully appreciate the significance of the difference with V7. In V6, not only was the install itself lengthy (an hour or more was common), an equally lengthy update process followed. The update process required first obtaining the update, which, if downloaded from the Internet with less than T1 speed, could itself be measured in hours. While we can't speak to the time it takes to install all of the components, we can report that selectively installing RSE and iSeries* Projects (these can't be separated and include the debugger) along with a few tools from the AE took less than 25 minutes. On another machine we installed just the RSE components in less than 15 minutes. This is quite a dramatic difference!

These relatively short installation times included installing the required IBM Installation Manager. The Installation Manager will be used for future update installs. It can also be used to add or remove features after the initial installation, so there's no need to install all of the options just in case they might be needed. Additionally, you can install multiple package groups, which means you could install both a full version of the workbench to use when you're doing Web or Java* development and a leaner, faster version for those days when you're doing host-based development.

The smaller, selective version we installed loads in about half the time that our full V6 workbench did. Since it takes less memory, it's faster when switching between workstation applications. The documentation says the RSE subset of the workbench will run with 256 MB of memory and 1 GB of disk space, and we see no reason to doubt that based on our experience.

The really good news here is that RSE now becomes a viable option - at least as far as hardware is concerned - for almost all System i developers. Perhaps in recognition that this may bring many new users to the RSE environment, V7 includes an "iSeries RSE Getting Started" document to assist newbies with their early RSE experiences.

RSE Editor Enhancements

For many years, we've hoped IBM would make the indented source views provided by WDSc editable. (It's a browse-only view.) While our wish still hasn't been granted, two of the new features help alleviate this need. The first lets you add border markers to the source, shown in Figure 1, thereby graphically showing the nesting level of source statements. The down side to this feature is that it appears to be limited to showing the nesting levels of only those lines within the current block. In other words, had the cursor been on the ENDIF when we requested to "Show Block Nesting," the Do/EndDo link wouldn't have been generated. There also appears to be a limit of five levels of nesting - additional levels simply aren't marked.

The second feature will probably be responsible for wearing out the tops of the Ctrl, Shift and M keys. These three represent the keystroke to initiate "Jump to Block End." When the cursor is on an If or Do op-code, this keystroke results in the editor immediately positioning itself to the corresponding EndIf or EndDo. This process also works in reverse, taking you directly to the beginning of any block when the cursor is on an End op-code. This feature is a great companion to the support that was in the editor already to highlight the corresponding beginning or end of a code block using Ctrl-M.

The smaller, selective version we installed loads in about half the time that our full V6 workbench did.

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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