Free-Form RPG Transformation, Part 1

by Tim Rowe
Mar 04, 2014

In the past couple of Modern-i-zation entries, I've covered the new RPG free-form support that was added as part of IBM i 7.1. The community seems to be very excited about these new advancements to the IBM i platform, and I know we here at IBM are thrilled to have been able to transform RPG into a truly modern programming language for us to run our business on.  To support free-form RPG, the development tooling has also been updated with Rational Developer for i (RDi) version 9.0.1. ...

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Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Mar 8, 2014

Thank you for this interesting description. The tool may be helpful, but I see one drawback: It converts any kind of RPG program into its exact free form twin. It may help to do this, but the new program most likely isn't the real thing!
After reengineering a couple of programs and writing my own ones in rpg free, I really start to enjoy the benefits of modern rpg and this goes far beyond a simple statement-to-statement conversion of code.
Of course, the converted sourcecode may be a starting point, but in my experience, it is also important to look at the structures of a program, and really adopting modern rpg means to change a lot more in an old program.
I recently rewrote some programs that came from somewhere between RPG II and RPG III, and after I had done my job, the programs where less than half of their previos size. Built in functions, data structures and the use of subprocedures, for instance can simplify and change a program in way that is far beyond code conversion.
One thing I enjoy when using modern rpg is to say goodbye to those dozens of working variables and indicators.
As I said before, it may be a good starting point to convert code to free format, but after that is done, there is still a long way to go until we can speak of modern-i-zation. It reminds me a bit of Potemkin villages, that is the danger I see here.

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