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WDSc V7--A Lot More than Just a Screen Designer

Industry experts Paris and Gantner share their thoughts on the new WebSphere Development Studio Client V7

The IBM* System i* world seems abuzz with controversy about WebSphere* Development Sudio Client (WDSc) V7. If you've so far missed out on hearing what the fuss is about, we'd like to provide a summary of our take on WDSc V7--the good, the bad and the ugly--from our perspective as long-time Remote System Explorer (RSE) and CoOperative Development Environment (CODE) users. While there are certainly some issues--mostly related to packaging that we hope will be addressed soon--we fear many folks are overlooking the good in V7 because of the controversy. That's a big mistake.

We'll concentrate here on the parts of the new release that are of most interest to developers of primarily RPG/CL/DDS/SQL-type applications. There are also many enhancements and changes in WDSc for developers using languages and tools such as WebFacing, Host Access Transformation Services (HATS), Java* and Enterprise Generation Language (EGL), but in this article we'll focus on things of interest to developers of more traditional applications. We'll look at enhancements to RSE and its editor and the iSeries* Integrated Debugger.

The Highlights

First, a brief look at the highlights.

Perhaps the most important enhancement in V7 is the ability to selectively install only the parts of WDSc that you need for your job. This means that for folks interested in simply replacing PDM- and SEU-style tools, the install process is dramatically simplified, and the workstation size needed is significantly reduced. Even for those with workstations with 1 GB-plus memory and 5 GB disk (the recommended minimums for V6), it means a much faster start-up time for the workbench and improved responsiveness. The minimum requirement specified by IBM for the basic toolset for traditional host-based development (Eclipse, RSE and the iSeries Integrated Debugger) is 256 MB memory and 1 GB disk. This makes modern development tools accessible to a much wider audience than previous releases.

The RSE editor has some nice new features. Our favorite is "Show Block Nesting," which graphically illustrates the beginning and end of nested blocks like If, Do, Monitor, etc. Block nesting works for RPG IV and CL members. Lines and arrows in the margin beside the sequence numbers show the blocks. For those programs that still contain fixed-form calc specs, this comes in very handy. There's also a new keyboard shortcut--Ctrl+Shift+m--to jump to the beginning or end of a block of code.

A new "Open Declaration" option is available on the right-click context menu when a subroutine or subprocedure name is selected. It jumps directly to the beginning of the code for the routine selected. It also sets a "quick mark" at the original point so you can subsequently reposition using Alt-Q.

SQL support has been improved in the editor. The SQL statements will be "tokenized" (color-coded to separate language syntax from column and variable names) much like regular RPG code. In addition, some SQL statement templates have been added to the RPG templates already available for use in /Free format RPG IV code. These new enhancements for embedded SQL, while still quite a long way from the SQL prompting we're still hoping for, are at least a few steps forward for those using SQL.

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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