Logo: TUG TORONTO USERS GROUP for Midrange Systems
e -server magazine

November 1996: Volume 12, Number 2

CODE/400 and VisualAge for RPG

By George Farr and Edmund Reinhardt

ave you ever been frustrated that even though you have this nice and powerful PC, when it comes to maintaining green-screen applications for the AS/400 you basically use it as a terminal emulator and use SEU and SDA? Have you ever been frustrated that even though you have this nice and powerful PC you do not have applications with a Graphical User Interface (GUI) that can fully exploit the power of your PC?

Well, don't be frustrated any more! Let CODE/400 and VisualAge for RPG bring your application development environment into the 90s. CODE/400 and VisualAge for RPG are made up of many different components to help you in the area of editing, compiling, debugging, and designing your screens. In many cases, where possible, both CODE/400 and VisualAge for RPG share the same components to make it easier for you to use both tools without having to pay a price in learning.

Let's examine each of these components, first the editor. Rather than plain SEU, CODE/400 and VisualAge for RPG give you a powerful programmable workstation editor (called LPEX) that parses and tokenizes your RPG, COBOL, DDS, or CL source on the fly. As a result, the editor will recognize the various language constructs and use different colors for them which will help you in writing and maintaining your application. Because the editor actually understands the language you're editing, it can help you navigate your code, expand and contract procedures, and even do basic syntax checking as you type. All the IBM language reference help is a click away and uses the context of what you are editing to bring you right to the help you need. Of course all of the prompting, rulers and prefix area commands that you found helpful in SEU are available as well. The editor can be customized and extended using the REXX language.

In addition, for both CODE/400 and VisualAge for RPG, the front end of the RPG/4, COBOL, and DDS compiler is available from within the LPEX Editor. What this means is that you can verify your source locally. The error list takes you right to the offending line In the case of CODE/400, you can submit host compiles from within the editor.

You can specify all of your compile options using "checkboxes" and "dropdowns", and any errors will be returned to you by the very same highly-usable error list. Of course the beauty of CODE/400 is that you should never get any errors on a host compile, because you found them all using a local verify; which is both faster for the programmer and cheaper for the company. They both support caching so that you can work completely disconnected, at home for example, and still run verifier/compile (Verifier in the case of CODE/400 and compile in the case of VisualAge for RPG) against host copy members and DDS reference fields. Of course even with an intelligent editor and superb compile support, you will still have to deal with runtime logic errors. Imagine if you could get a totally modern debugger with an up-to-date GUI interface like the one used by Visual Age C++. Well, you no longer have to dream! CODE/400 and VisualAge for RPG bring you the very same debugger interface used by those workstation development environments.

VisualAge for RPG provides a Graphical User Interface Builder that enables you to create your screens by simply dragging and dropping from a parts palette. CODE/400 has a similar component - DSU, that allows you to create and design your AS/400 screens in a very easy and straightforward way.

One last point to remember: CODE/400's main purpose is to allow you to create and maintain your AS/400 applications from your workstation. This means that when you debug your application, the application is actually running on the AS/400. However, in the case of VisualAge for RPG, when you debug your application, everything including the application is running on your PC. So the key point here is that CODE/400 allows you to develop and maintain your AS/400 applications; whereas VisualAge for RPG allows y ou to develop applications with GUI on the PC, but uses the AS/400 as the server. Given the close relationship between these tools, IBM is packaging both under one PID number. When you buy one of these products you basically get the second one for free.

Both CODE/400 and VisualAge for RPG are available today on the OS/2 platform. In the next release of the AS/400, they will both be available on the Windows 95 platform as well. To give customers a head start on it, today IBM is making the Alpha level driver available on the Internet and will be making code drops as they progress. The target for General Availability (GA) is 1st quarter 1997 ( 5th quarter '96!)

More information about getting a free copy of the pre-release version can be found on the world wide web at: http://www.software.ibm.com/ad/varpg/.

It's yours for free to try out! So, come on board and use the latest and greatest in application development tools for the 90s! As you use both of these products, we would like to hear back from you with any comments you may have. Enjoy using these products! T < G

George Farr the development manager for the VRPG compiler. Edmund Reinhardt is a member of the CODE/400 development team, also in Toronto. You can reach George at: gfarr@vnet.ibm.com and Edmund at: edmund@vnet.ibm.com.