5 Reasons Why RPG Is A Hot Topic At COMMON POWERUp 2021

5 Reasons Why RPG Is A Hot Topic At COMMON POWERUp 2021

The RPG (the Report Program Generator) procedural programming language was first introduced back in 1959. Some now consider it a legacy language. Despite this, however, it will be a hot topic at the upcoming COMMON’s POWERUp 2021, the largest conference and networking event for IBM Power Systems users and solution providers.

The event takes place in the first week of October 2021, and a number of its scheduled expert speakers plan to talk about RPG. They will be talking about the latest RPG coding trends, how to best use RPG apps, and how to approach developing RPG programs that support modern technologies.

 20 sessions devoted to RPG development and related topics at COMMON’s POWERUp 2021

– Best Practices for moving from RPG IV to RPG Free,

– SQLRPGLE the Better File Access,

– What’s New for RPG in 7.3 and 7.4,

– Programming Standards and Guidelines,

– Darn… Cursored Again! – Using SQL & Cursors in Your Programs,

– Expand and Simplify RPG Using C Run-Time Functions,

– Quick Look: Overloading in RPG,

– Why Procedures are Better than Subroutines,

– What the Heck is Binder Source and Why Do I Care,

– Writing “modern” RPG code,

– RPG User Defined Functions & Table Functions,

– Code Monkey’s Guide to Consuming XML documents with RPG,

– How to Get to Unicode from RPG: Using CCSIDS in RPG,

– Options for Consuming REST APIs from RPG,

– Intro to RPG,

– Intro to RPG Procedures,

– Handling JSON With DATA-INTO and DATA-GEN in ILE RPG,

– Using RDi to Refactor RPG Code,

– What’s The Fuss? – Using Procedures and Service Programs,

– The Awesomeness of Service Programs (and the truth about binder source),

– Providing Web Services on IBM i.

For a language that people said was dying back in the early 2000s, RPG still gets a lot of attention. There is no shortage of RPG trends and innovations for IBM Power Systems community members to discuss.

Why is RPG knowledge still in demand in 2021?

The unshakable popularity of RPG comes as no surprise to us at LANSA. This is because we have provided IBM i solutions and support for IBM Power Systems users since the platform’s introduction in the late 1980s. As a result, we know quite a bit about the challenges and pain points of IBM i users. We also know which challenges directly link to RPG, the primary IBM i programming language.

The demand for RPG-related knowledge is still very high in 2021. Here are five main reasons why it is such a hot topic at the upcoming COMMON’s POWERUp event.

#1 Thousands of existing business apps are built with RPG

IBM i maintains its position as one of the leading enterprise platforms used by large and small organizations around the globe. This is because of its regular modernization efforts, upgrades, and revisions over the years. Tens of thousands of organizations rely on IBM i to power some of their most critical operations. The majority of these companies also still use multiple RPG-based applications that require maintenance, updates, and modernization. The maintenance of RPG apps in particular is a big headache for many organizations as the costs of maintaining them tend to increase every year.

#2 Hiring new RPG developers is increasingly difficult

While the RPG business apps ecosystem is large, the talent pool of RPG developers is rapidly shrinking. According to one researcher, [1], 33% of active RPG & COBOL developers retired between 2017 and 2020. Moreover, the new generation of coders is understandably unenthusiastic about investing time and effort into the deep learning of “legacy” languages like RPG. As the talent pool shrinks, crucial RPG-related knowledge is also depleting. As a result, organizations are facing the need to maintain RPG knowledge because their business operations rely on IBM i and RPG apps.

#3 New RPG developers require lots of training

Compared to newer programming languages like Java and Python, RPG is considerably more difficult to learn. The RPG developer community is also quite small and shrinking more every year. New developers tasked with developing and maintaining RPG code face a knowledge gap where it applies to modern requirements. Overall, this has created a pressing need for RPG development and training today.

#4 Migrating legacy RPG apps to other languages is risky

The fact that most organizations realize they need to modernize their RPG apps and migrate them to other, more contemporary program languages also contributes to increased interest in RPG-development information in 2021. The need to modernize is offset, however, by the risks of the modernization process. Simply put, IBM i is the foundation of many crucial business processes. Companies are aware of the potentially high cost of any mistakes they make.

#5 Integrating RPG programs with modern technologies can be time-consuming with the wrong tools

Finally, RPG programs that remain in use need to integrate with modern-day tools and technologies. For the reasons above this is a difficult and time-consuming process.

Finally, organizations that rely on IBM i face several serious challenges linked to RPG. This is why the IBM i commnity conference devotes so many sessions to RPG development.

How does LANSA solve your RPG development problems?

The challenges of RPG development can be solved using modern low-code tools. These tools let developers modernize existing RPG business apps without migration.  Visual LANSA, for example, is a cutting-edge platform that simplifies the development and delivery of new enterprise applications as well as the digital transformation and modernization of legacy tools.

No need for RPG developers

For companies that have a shortage of RPG developers, LANSA follows a hybrid low-code approach. With the LANSA approach, developers can create entire applications in our IDE and easily deploy them to IBM i and other platforms. In essence, your developers don’t need to learn RPG to create IBM i apps in Visual LANSA.

Existing RPG developers don’t need to learn all the new web languages

The need for your current RPG developers to learn how to code in other languages as well is one of the main problems with modernizing RPG apps with new technologies.  Again, with LANSA, your programmers don’t need to know any new programming languages like Objective C for Apple development, Java for Android apps, or JavaScript for web solutions. Nor do they need to know related web technologies such as HTML or CSS. Everything from defining to deploying app logic can be done with LANSA low-code tools. You can easily make a new app available on multiple mobile platforms. Best of all your developers only have to maintain one set of LANSA source code.

No more time-consuming and risky RPG integrations

With your developer’s ability to code directly inside the Visual LANSA IDE, it is extremely easy to integrate newly created solutions with existing IBM i platforms and legacy tools or implement new technologies into old RPG apps. LANSA’s hybrid low-code approach allows developers to integrate with anything without creating complex time-consuming workarounds.

Simple modernization of legacy RPG apps

LongRange allows programmers to develop and maintain feature-rich native mobile apps for Apple iOS and Android using LANSA’s accessible low-code methods. With LongRange, your RPG developers can create new versions of legacy apps without developing new actual services like touch-enabled user interfaces or other app functions. This way, even if your current developers lack the relevant skills and knowledge, they can still be productive and well-equipped to intuitively trace and debug apps using the same programming model they already use.


What is LANSA presenting at COMMON POWERUp 2021?

We are excited to be hosting two presentations during this year’s COMMON POWERUp 2021 virtual conference. LANSA’s Andrew Vaiciunas and  Grant Cooper will give you an overview of IBM i application modernization strategies. In their talks, they will discuss examples of IBM i shops that have successfully adopted this approach over the last 10 years.


Ready to leave the challenges of RPG development behind?

LANSA is the tool that allows organizations of any size to focus on the future and leave RPG-linked problems like hiring and training new RPG developers, allocating bigger budgets on RPG app maintenance, as well as integrating legacy solutions with modern-day technologies behind.

Ready to get started? Contact us to find out more about how we can help.

[1] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/rpg-cobol-as400-talent-leaving-workforce-elliot-bilsland/


LANSA Hybrid Low-Code solutions are fast to deploy and easy to maintain delivering outstanding value for any application development project. Ready to get started?




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