As you may have seen, IBM has announced a major technology refresh for IBM i 7.1 (TR7 for short). TR7 brings several updates to the table, including enhancements to the DB2 database and Application Runtime Expert product, and the arrival of Ruby on Rails.
But what we're really excited about is the update to the RPG IV language. With TR7, RPG IV is now almost entirely free-format. What this means is that developers are freed from using the old, fixed-column format for Control, File, Definition, and Procedure specifications, and can write free-form code that is easier for them to read, write and understand.
For businesses running on the i platform, this has some obvious benefits. First off, it shows IBM's commitment to the IBM i, and helps combat the perception that RPG is an "outdated" language. Experienced RPG developers will certainly appreciate the fact that if will be easier to use and maintain. But for companies that hire new developers with no or limited experience coding in RPG, this can mean significant time savings as it will now be easier to train them on using the language!
To learn more about the Technology Refresh and the addition of free-format RPG, check out the following links:
- The official IBM announcement on TR7
- Steve Pitcher - In the Wheelhouse: RPG Goes Free-Format and DB2 for i Does Big Data Better
- Steve Will's 'You and i' blog: Announcing IBM i 7.1 TR7
- Jon Paris/Susan Gantner's 'iDevelop' blog: Totally Free RPG
- Brian May: IBM Announces RPG Free Format Enhancements