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The Remote System Explorer
Modern Developer Tools for the System i
By Don Yantzi, Nazmin Haji
MC PressCopyright © 2008 Don Yantzi and Nazmin Haji
All rights reserved.
What Is the RSE and How Do I Get It?
The Remote System Explorer (RSE) is a set of tools for developing RPG, COBOL, CL, and DDS applications, or what we often refer to as native IBM i5/OS applications. These could be 5250 applications, batch applications, stored procedures, or RPG and COBOL programs that are used in a Web application. (Tools for working with the Web part of an application are not included in the RSE.)
At a high level, the tasks that can be accomplished using the RSE include the following:
Working with libraries, objects, members, jobs, and integrated file system files
Performing user-defined actions
Visually designing display files
Generating graphical diagrams of an application's structure
At a low level, there's a whole lot more to the RSE, as you will find out through this book.
Trying to learn and understand the RSE and its related tools can be quite overwhelming at first, especially if you are jumping into it with little or no background with workstation development tools. To realize the benefits of the RSE, you need to understand its capabilities and how to use them effectively.
In today's environment, getting up to speed quickly and becoming productive with any new application development tool has become a necessity. You have to do this while still doing your day job, so there isn't the luxury of being unproductive while learning. If you're going to invest the time to learn the RSE, you likely want some pretty concrete reasons for doing so. Here are what we consider the three main reasons:
The RSE improves productivity. The integrated nature of the RSE tools, their additional capabilities in helping you understand your source code, the ease of debugging your programs they provide, and their many other features ultimately lead to improved productivity. You will be able to prove this to yourself as you read this book.
It's fun and exciting. Sure, it's your job, but you might as well have some fun and enjoy it!
Learning the RSE lowers the next learning curve. Learning the RSE lowers the curve for learning other new technologies and tools in the future. The RSE is just one of many tools integrated into the Eclipse Workbench. Most of these tools share a common Workbench user interface, help system, editing behavior, views, and debugger. While using the RSE, you will learn all of these things, which can then be applied when you have to learn a new technology such as Java, Web services, XML, Enterprise Generation Language, or PHP. All of these technologies have corresponding Eclipse-based tools.
The RSE is the strategic tool for i5/OS application development and is the replacement for SEU, PDM, and the IBM Cooperative Development Environment (CODE). We didn't include this in the list of reasons above, however, because we think you should choose a development tool based on its merits, not because someone told you it's strategic.
The RSE is not a product, so you cannot call IBM and buy it directly. The RSE is a set of tools for developing native i5/OS applications using RPG, COBOL, CL, and DDS. IBM WebSphere Development Studio Client for System i (WDSC) and IBM Rational Developer for System i are IBM products that include the RSE.
WDSC and Rational Developer for System i are separate IBM products. WDSC has many features that are not included in Rational Developer for System i, such as the Web and Web services development tools, WebFacing, and Host Access Transformation Toolkit (HATS). On the other hand, Rational Developer for System i has some features that are not in WDSC, such as the Application Diagram and Screen Designer. (These were only shipped in WDSC Advanced Edition.)
Rational Developer for System i is the strategic tool for i5/OS application development going forward. This is where all new development is focused. WDSC is now in maintenance mode, with version 7.0 being the final release.
Both WDSC and Rational Developer for System i include the RSE, Remote Systems LPEX Editor, Integrated i5/OS Debugger, and i5/OS Projects. These features are the main subject of this book, so you can use the information here regardless of whether you are running WDSC or Rational Developer for System i. Specifically, this book is written to the Rational Developer for System i 7.1 version of these features. This means some new features described here are not available in WDSC; the Application Diagram and Screen Designer are the biggest ones. There are also some minor differences between the screen shots shown in the book and what you will see in WDSC; mainly, there is the renaming from iSeries to i5/OS. Appendix B summarizes the differences between WDSC 7.0 and the content of this book to assist you if you are using WDSC.
The Recent Evolution of RPG and COBOL Tools
The year is 1988. The Chicago Cubs play their first night game at Wrigley field, Rain Man wins the Academy Award for best picture, and IBM first releases the IBM AS/400. Along with it is a new release of RPG and COBOL development tools from IBM: Source Entry Utility and Program Development Manager, more affectionately known as SEU/PDM.
Move on to 1992. IBM introduces the Cooperative Development Environment for AS/400 (CODE/400) on IBM OS/2. (Eventually, CODE/400 was ported to Microsoft Windows.) CODE/400, which has since been renamed just CODE, is a suite of tools that includes the following:
CODE Editor, a workstation editor for remote editing of RPG, COBOL, CL, and DDS source members. CODE Editor included many SEU features, such as prefix commands, prompting, and syntax checking. It also included many new workstation features, such as color tokenizing, undo/redo, and program verification.
CODE Designer, a graphical editor for DDS. CODE Designer included a palette of DDS records, fields, and constants that could be added to the graphical design area. You could then use the mouse to graphically lay out the screen or printer file.
CODE Navigator, a graphical tool that could take a selection of open editors (RPG and COBOL) and build a call graph for the source, showing subroutines and procedures and the calls between them.
Program Generator, a graphical user interface for launching compiles and retrieving and displaying the compiler messages.
Code Project Organizer, a central tool for defining development projects, filters of remote libraries, objects, and members, and launching the other CODE tools from them.
CODE was IBM's first workstation application development tool for RPG, COBOL, CL, and DDS development. It had a small but fairly loyal set of users. Unfortunately, it never gained widespread adoption. The same development team that produced CODE produced WDSC. As such, the CODE tools, and the customer feedback IBM received on them, had a big impact on the initial designs of the Remote System Explorer in WDSC and now Rational Developer for System i.
Now, fast-forward to around 1999. Java is becoming popular, the Internet is starting to take off, XML is appearing on the horizon, and RPG and COBOL are still going strong. IBM (and the industry in general) has created separate development tools for each one of these languages or technologies. The problem is that developers are creating applications that leverage many of these tools, but each one looks and behaves differently, and they don't integrate that well.
Consider a typical Web application that uses HTML for the user interface, RPG or COBOL for the business logic, and Java to tie it all together. A developer would have to use all of these:
SEU/PDM or CODE for the RPG/COBOL business logic
VisualAge for Java for the Java code
WebSphere Studio (the predecessor to the WebSphere Studio products based on Eclipse) for the Web site design
These are all IBM tools, but they are so different that they might as well have been created by different companies.
At this point, IBM realized it had a problem and started down the road of creating an integrated tooling platform that any development tool could be plugged into. This platform would provide lots of frameworks, so tool writers could quickly create new tools. Eventually, IBM open-sourced this platform, which is now known as Eclipse.
This started the process of most IBM application development tools teams rewriting their standalone development environments to be integrated into Eclipse. The CODE development team was no different. The redesigned and rewritten CODE suite of tools was released in 2002 as WDSC.
WDSC was originally a bundle of IBM Rational Web Developer, i5/OS extensions to the Web, Java and Web services features in Rational Web Developer, and RPG and COBOL development tools (the RSE, Integrated i5/OS Debugger, and Remote Systems LPEX Editor).
Rational Web Developer was a product targeted at Web developers, not Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) developers. A different product called IBM Rational Application Developer was targeted at J2EE developers. Eventually, IBM came out with a product called WDSC Advanced Edition (WDSC AE) that included Rational Application Developer instead of Rational Web Developer. WDSC AE was targeted at developers who wanted to do J2EE development, and RPG and COBOL development.
Over time, some of the new i5/OS related features were added only to WDSC AE. This included things like portal support and single sign-on for WebFacing, the i5/OS J2EE Connector Architecture (JCA) Adapter, and the wizards for converting i5/OS job logs and message queues to Common Base Event (CBE) format for use with the log and trace analyzer tools. The tipping point seemed to be when IBM shipped the Application Diagram and Screen Designer technology preview only in WDSC AE for the 7.0 release. There was a loud community backlash, to say the least!
At this point, it was becoming obvious that the packaging model wasn't fitting the market requirements. In addition to the WDSC versus WDSC AE criticisms, users often raised concerns that WDSC was too big (to install, run, and download updates) and too complicated to understand and use with all the Web, Web services, WebFacing, HATS, XML, and database tools bundled together along with the native i5/OS application development tools.
So, in 2008, IBM released Rational Developer for System i, a new product focused solely on RPG, COBOL, CL, and DDS application development. Rational Developer for System i includes the Remote System Explorer, Remote Systems LPEX Editor, i5/OS Projects, Integrated i5/OS Debugger from WDSC, and the Application Diagram and Screen Designer technology preview from WDSC AE, along with some new features such as V6R1 support.
WebSphere, Rational, and System i, Oh My!
Consider the following scenario:
IBM: Hello, how may I help you?
Customer: Hi, I'd like to order WebSphere 7.1.
IBM: Okay, do you mean WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Process Server, WebSphere Integration Developer, or WebSphere Business Modeler?
Customer: Um, do you have anything just called WebSphere?
IBM: No, WebSphere is an IBM brand that covers lots of products.
Customer: Okay, how about Remote System Explorer 7.1? The replacement for SEU and PDM?
IBMSorry, we don't have anything by any of those names.
Customer: Oh, right, it's now called Rational 7.1.
IBM: Great. Would you like IBM Rational Software Architect,
IBM Rational Application Developer, IBM Rational ClearCase, IBM Rational ClearQuest, or IBM Rational Functional Tester?
Customer: Hmm, how about Eclipse? Do you sell that?
Okay, you get the idea that there is some confusion out there in the i5/OS application development community. Hopefully, this section will start to make some sense of the various names and version numberings IBM uses.
Let's start with Rational and WebSphere. IBM has five major software brands that it sells software under, each with its own focus area:
WebSphere: The WebSphere brand focuses on application runtimes and development tools specific to those runtimes. WebSphere Application Server is an example.
Rational: The Rational brand focuses on application lifecycle tools, such as requirements gathering (IBM Rational RequisitePro), application development (Rational Developer for System i), testing (Rational Functional Tester), and change management (Rational ClearCase).
Lotus: The Lotus brand focuses on collaborative software, such as Lotus Domino, Lotus Notes, and Lotus Sametime.
Information Management: The well-known Information Management brand is led by its flagship DB2 database product.
Tivoli: This is the services-management brand.
When IBM first released WDSC in 2002, Rational was a separate company, and the WebSphere brand covered both application development tools and runtimes. So, IBM released the Remote System Explorer and associated i5/OS application development tools in a product called IBM WebSphere Development Studio Client for iSeries.
In 2003, IBM acquired Rational Corporation, which focused on application development lifecycle tools. Over time, Rational evolved into the IBM brand for application development tools. In 2007, the i5/OS application development tools team in Toronto was moved from the WebSphere organization to the Rational organization. This ultimately led to the Rational branding for Rational Developer for System i.
What's in a Number?
Although WDSC and Rational Developer for System i are closely tied to i5/OS, their version numbers having nothing to do with i5/OS version numbers. In the past, the application development tools linked their version numbers with the version of WebSphere Application Server they supported. The first release of WDSC was version 4.0 (not version 1.0) because it supported WebSphere Application Server 4.0.
In addition, the application development tools all tried to ship roughly around the same time, with the same version numbers. This is important for users who want to install multiple application development tools into the same copy of the Workbench. Generally speaking, Rational application development tools with the same version number can be installed into the same Workbench.
The approach of linking application development tools and WebSphere Application Server versions broke down in version 7 of the tools. At the time of this writing, the Rational application development tools are at version 7.0 (7.1 for Rational Developer for System i), but WebSphere Application Server is only at 6.1, which is the version supported by the 7.0 tools.
There are two important things to get out of this. First, WDSC and Rational Developer for System i version numbers have nothing to do with i5/OS version numbers. When a new version of WDSC or Rational Developer for System i is shipped, it can be used with any of the versions of i5/OS that are currently in service. Second, if you want to install multiple tools and have them use the same Workbench instance, you should get tools at the same version number. (Rational Developer for System i 7.1 can be installed into a Workbench with the other Rational 7.0 tools.)
How Do I Get It?
Prior to V6R1, there was only one package: IBM WebSphere Development Studio. This is the i5/OS licensed program (5722-WDS) that included the host compilers (RPG, COBOL, C, C++), ADTS (SEU, PDM, RLU), and unlimited licenses of WDSC. Every time IBM released a new version of WDSC, a 5722-WDS refresh code would also be issued for ordering it. Customers on software subscription or software maintenance could use the refresh code to get the latest release.
WDSC could also be purchased separately, through the IBM Passport Advantage site. This was primarily for consultants who wanted WDSC, but didn't own their own System i. IBM Passport Advantage is the only way you can purchase WDSC AE.
In V6R1, the entire WebSphere Development Studio package has been broken down into the following separately purchasable features: ILE compilers, heritage compilers (OPM, S/38, S/36), and ADTS. With the move to user-based pricing for the WebSphere Development Studio features, there are no unlimited licenses for Rational Developer for System i. A license of Rational Developer for System i needs to be purchased for each developer using it. This can be done in one of two ways:
As a priced feature of WebSphere Development Studio (5761-WDS) when ordering V6R1
Through the IBM Passport Advantage Web site
Excerpted from The Remote System Explorer by Don Yantzi, Nazmin Haji. Copyright © 2008 Don Yantzi and Nazmin Haji. Excerpted by permission of MC Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsPraise for The Remote System Explorer,
CHAPTER 1 - What Is the RSE and How Do I Get It?,
CHAPTER 2 - Installation and Setup,
CHAPTER 3 - Getting Started with the RSE,
CHAPTER 4 - Workbench Basics,
CHAPTER 5 - Working with Libraries, Objects, and Members,
CHAPTER 6 - The Remote Systems LPEX Editor: The Best of Both Worlds,
CHAPTER 7 - The Remote Systems LPEX Editor: RPG, COBOL, DDS, and CL Editing Features,
CHAPTER 8 - Compiling and Binding,
CHAPTER 9 - Running and Debugging Programs,
CHAPTER 10 - Additional Functions,
CHAPTER 11 - i5/OS Projects: The Other Way to Manage Your Source,
CHAPTER 12 - The Application Diagram,
CHAPTER 13 - Screen Designer,
CHAPTER 14 - What's Next,
APPENDIX A - Keyboard Shortcuts,
APPENDIX B - Chapter Differences for WDSC 7.0,
System i Books from MC Press,