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Java on the AS400

Ray Marsh
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Joined: Jan 12, 2000
Posts: 458
Nanhesru...
To continue on the AS400 vein. What's your take on it's future?
I'm not real confident in IBM�s backing. It's hard to tell what they're doing.
Other subjects.... Websphere, Web enabled RPG, RPG converters, ILE...
I have dozens of questions along these lines, have discussed them endlessly with my colleagues.
Anyway, IF the AS400 survives, do you see Java as it's primary development language?
Here's my take. IBM throws down the gauntlet to M$ by making Linux the primary OS on the AS400 platform, with the ever reliable OS400 running in the background. Thereby inviting the modern programming world into the fold. Java will be the primary language, Webshpere the web-platform. The 400 will be a web-server for intra-net applications and 5250 emulation will disappear over the horizon.


Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength. – Charles Spurgeon
Nanhesru Ningyake
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Joined: Nov 29, 2000
Posts: 452
Ray, I don't know anything, I am just a consultant here
But my gut feeling is, the future looks good. The mood is very upbeat here. We know we have a solid, reliable system; and with every release we've been adding great features; and giving our competition some serious sweat on their brows.
And with the system slowly shedding its "green screen" image, it is bound to gain wider acceptance. Companies have been replacing networks of hundreds of NTs with a single iSeries system; giving unimaginably greater stability to their applications.
>do you see Java as it's primary development language
This might happen when Java can be as fast as RPG! But then there's always the issue of what'll happen to "legacy" RPG and Cobol code; and ofcourse training of existing programmers in Java and OOP can be another big headache, don't you think?
Or perhaps like Jerry Maguire reveals to us, it could be C*, which mixes C++, Cobol, ADA and RPG Who else would think of rehashing RPG

Pourquoi voulez-vous mon nom?
Eager Beaver
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Joined: Feb 26, 2001
Posts: 187
Hey Ray / Nanhesru,
I don't see myself as a contributor to your discussion but merely trying to find a direction for myself in this ever-in-flux world of IT. I am a small fish with 3.5y of IBM m/f experience and though bitten by the java bug I am wary of severing my ties with the big blue technologies. I would soon be attending a formal training in websphere at my organization. How are the prospects in websphere world.Is weblogic a strong competition. Looking for some enlightenment.
thanks,
-EB.
Ray Marsh
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 12, 2000
Posts: 458
Eager... This is a new arena and the big boys are battling it out for their piece of the pie. Keep your ear to the ground. Watch the trade journals and read the technical news. When the smoke clears, its anybody's guess who'll be left standing.
Websphere is a legitimate contender. Has been the leader from time to time, depending on who's refereeing
Can't tell you which direction to head in. 10 years ago people were announcing the death of the AS400. I've made a good living on a "dead" platform. Like Mark Twain said... "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated!" ... or something like that.
Nanhesru... The points you raise are valid... re-tooling is expensive, re-training is expensive. However, maintaining cumbersome, procedural, legacy code is also expensive, in the long run. The question is� What�s the best path to get your systems upgraded to where you can utilize new technologies and deploy modern applications? The AS400 recently posted the top Java performance numbers. I can't find the article, right now. I'll add it if I can locate it.
The answers will reveal themselves in due course. Like you guys, I'm trying to position my career to be ready for the changes.
Joel Cochran
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 23, 2001
Posts: 301
I am primarily an RPG programmer, so the 400 has been my bread and butter. I'm learning Java, but I have no intention of using Java on the 400, at least not until they overcome the GUI problems. Java on the 400 is NOT the same as Java everywhere else no matter what Rochester says. I also think GUI is too hyped. Show me one heads down data entry person who would prefer using a GUI over a green screen and I'll be amazed.
I also think they'll have a hard time convincing people not to use RPG/COBOL on the 400, just like they've had a hard time replacing DDS record level access with SQL. It simply is not a better solution, so programmers won't make the move!
I do think that eventually RPG will become a shadow of Java in that you can expect a fully free form, Object Oriented version sometime in the next few years. I expect it to look and feel like Java with the functionality of RPG. RPGILE was a good first step in the right direction, and I truly enjoy that language.
As with most 400 types, I love my platform. I am a die hard fan. Check out http://www.vamanet.com and you'll see what a 400 can do on the web all by itself. But even so I don't think the 400 (i-series, whatever!) will carry me to retirement, so I'm branching out. It's also become a problem with potential clients that we are tied to one platform, hence my interest in Java.
As for WebSphere, it is supposed to be a good tool, but once you use IBM tools it is hard to change to anything else! I would look at open source Tomcat and JBoss {FREE} before I paid 5 figures for a fully functioning WebSphere environmetn. But, all of this is changing I understand with V5R1, with web-facing and other improvements. I guess IBM is trying, but I also think it is too little too late.
Sorry so long!

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I'm a soldier in the NetScape Wars...
Joel
[This message has been edited by Joel Cochran (edited May 15, 2001).]


Wait a minute, I'm trying to think of something clever to say...<p>Joel
Ray Marsh
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Joined: Jan 12, 2000
Posts: 458
Joel... I agree with most of your statements. You're predictions are plausible, as well. IBM has dragged their feet with the AS400 and tried to force the consumer to have things their (IBM's) way. They should take a lesson from Burger King... give the customer their way!
I didn't realize that Java was different on the 400. That's typical, IBM puts their twist on everything they touch.
The future of the AS400 is in IBM's control. If it dies it will be because they either killed it purposefully, to steer their customers in a new direction ala Silverlake/AS400 from the SYS36, or it will die of neglect.
What the face of IT will be in the next 5 - 10 years is the question that keeps coming back to mind. There are so many factors, so many possibilities.
Terminal emulation will disappear due to financial reasons not efficiency. I agree green-screen programs are much faster for keying than GUI. I myself, navigate on the PC with the keyboard more than the mouse. It is a waste of time to remove my hand from the keyboard to use the mouse. I think programs will be written with the keyboard in mind rather than the mouse and the efficiency can still be there with GUI, if the applications are designed correctly.
I believe that web-enabled applications are going to be the norm. Large servers will handle the database chores. At least that's where app/dev appears to be headed. To me that's a good thing, platforms become less relevant. The 400 is a rock solid, fast, reliable database server and would shine in an environment like that.
This won't happen if M$ or IBM gets their way. They're two peas in the same pod. They want to lock you into software and/or hardware that keeps you dependant on them. Don't believe their flowery claims of interoperability or Sun's for that matter.
Joel Cochran
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 23, 2001
Posts: 301
Hey Ray, seems we also are two peas in a pod. I too rely on the keyboard a lot more than the mouse (bugs my wife to watch me use our home computer !) I should have clarified that my opinion of the efficiency of GUI applications is not because of any lack of capability but rather a function of design. I also think that keyboard intensive GUI applications can be written, they just haven't been yet!
One of my purposes in learning Java is to re-engineer our green screen product line in 100% Java (MVC Architecture) but still use the 400 as our primary DB server, with the option to access other DBs as well so that neither us nor our customers are locked in to one platform. You are so right, the 400 would absolutely shine in this role! I think we could even sell more 400s as a result.
As far as the Java/400 goes, to be fair the language itself is no different (except there is no support for awt or Swing and who knows what else...), it is really the implementation that is different, and from what I understand a bit hairy. Not to mention that IBM only wants you to use WebSphere and VisualAge. Oh well, at least the Java ToolBox for the 400 is free!
Ciao my kindred spirit!

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I'm a soldier in the NetScape Wars...
Joel
Ray Marsh
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 12, 2000
Posts: 458
Joel... What you're working on sounds fascinating. That's the basic model I've visualized. I'm very envious that you are able to actually work on it. We are currently in a budget crisis, staff reductions, and no money for anything except the very basics. We are essentially reduced to babysitting legacy code. Kinda, sorta, no actually... really really stinks. Looking forward to a chance to improve our systems instead of patching them.
 
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