How far have I come in RPG?

30 pts.
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RPG
Hi, This is my first post, but I have been reading this site for a while now. I have a strange question that maybe somebody on here can give me an answer on? I know there are many very experienced programmers on here! My question is that i have been working in my current role as an RPG programmer for 18 months....However, for the first 2 months I learned about an application called Qlickview which allowed us to connect to our iSeries to produce some lovely business reports, a very clever little BI app that eventually the company decided against buying as it was deemed the recession was starting to bite! Next it was on to CL/AS400 Operations/AS400 Admin via Tapes - headphones!!  which took about four months. The company then sent me on a course to learn about I - Reports which is an SQL Reporting tool for Oracle/I-series databases..We needed to create some pretty reports by using an ODBC connection.This despite not ever having any experience in SQL! So another language and APP to get my teeth into... Next I was asked to complete some user manuals for our new WMS which meant learning how these processes interacted with each other to write the manual in a coherent fashion. Finally I was shown my first ever RPG programme (RPGIII) after I had listened to yet more tapes regarding the syntax  and structure for RPG III! This takes me up to Feb of 09... It was decided that i should try to write some RPGSQL programs to begin with as this would be easier to learn, but again, this meant yet more learning on my part, to enable me to learn about opening and closing Cursors and Embedded/Dynamic SQL using RPG IV. I wrote my first successful Live RPGSQL program to produce an interactive sub-file screen for the users to look up some required data in April 09, I then went on to write maybe five or six of these types of programs.. I graduated to writing RPGSQL programs that would output to Excel and then would be sent straight to the user or customers that the report needed via E-Mail. I have actually wrote many of these types of programs now and have even started to write them using RPGLE. I have written many programmes that output to a printer if required but have tried to concentrate on the E-mail Versions. I feel RPGLE will be much better for me and will allow me to do many more things that I have been unable to do with RPG IV. But again this will mean yet more learning to get to a competent level. I have been asked to learn yet another application which is Cobwebb, which will allow us to produce much better output for our spool files into PDF/TXT/CSV. It is a very good tool and i have now converted many of our programmes to send by E-Mail only as the business wants to get away from printing! Did I mention that I am now the guy who looks after our DataMirror operations and have done many IPL's / Testing / monitoring / Switching of our nodes, and yet again this took time to learn, as there are just so many things involved! Sync checking / IFS/ BSF OBJECTS/ GROUPS/ ETC ETC We also are starting to convert many of our legacy programs that send faxes by the imps server, so that they now send by E-Mail... again this meant learning how the IMPS server works and how the syntax needs to be for New CL''s and RPG/RPGLE programs. Finally my question is this? Is this par for 18 months? I feel I have learned a hell of a lot, a hell of a lot! but yet I still feel like a novice!! I was asked this week to look at an old program and try and change it so that we can send EDI messages by E-Mail as well as writing to log files. To tell you the truth I'm struggling, the syntax is foreign to me (as written many years ago and there are  many Arrays and GoTO's in there as well, the program also uses the old RPG Cycle to read straight through the file with Primary file and L1 breaks , there are also data structures for the dates and not much notation! In fact, I would say that there are about 20 numbered indicators that have no known notation which makes me want to SCREEEEEAAAMMM my head off but I can't as it is a professional environment and I am a professional! My feeling is that I am learning many things, but I'm not actually settling down to one particular area? I'm trying to juggle many balls in the air and soon it will come crashing down around my ears! Will this Novice feeling ever go away? This week i felt like i was back to square one trying to change this program? Is this a normal feeling and does it eventually go away? I thought after 18 months I would feel like I know what I'm doing ..but if I'm honest, I haven't even reached base camp! Please give me some feedback about this as I'm seriously thinking about packing it all in, as I cannot see an end to this feeling of being a novice surrounded by programming Guru's!!! I also see C#... and it looks fantastic! Some people in our shop are now using this language and I like the look of it! I want to learn it, but yet again will be another curve to overcome! When I started 18 months ago I had no programming experience whatsoever, so basically have learned everything from scratch....I have no way of judging how far I have come, or indeed, have not come..but would appreciate any advice you are able to offer? I would ask my colleagues, but they all say i am doing OK, but at the same time give those knowing glances when i ask them yet again what the syntax is for that piece of SQL code that has a group by in it? Or the classic "This program will be easy". It may well be for those that have been doing it for 20 years, but for me off the streets, easy? I wished............... Thanks for listening..

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Wow, in18 months you’ve made terrific progress.

Your company has been willing to train you and hang in there with you because you are showing a real appitutide.

It does get better, but there are days of utter panic and days escesty.

Phil

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<i>I feel RPGLE will be much better for me and will allow me to do many more things that I have been unable to do with RPG IV. </i>

First, you always code RPGLE using RPG IV.

“RPGLE” would simply refer to the use of RPG in an ILE run-time environment. Since there are no compilers that can compile RPG III source code for ILE, there is a direct correspondence between “RPGLE” and “RPG IV”.

Technically, “RPGLE” only exists as a member type in PDM. It has no real meaning anywhere else. “RPG IV” is the language specification that supersede “RPG III”.

<i>Is this par for 18 months?</i>

Maybe. I’ve seen it done under decent circumstances. It requires supportive management and competent supervisors. But I’d also say that supportive management and competent supervisors might not be “par for the course”.

In any case, the huge amount of “stuff” available on AS/400s (and their successors — iSeries, System i…) will always be more than you’re going to keep up with.

<i>To tell you the truth i’m struggling, the syntax is foreign to me(as written many years ago and there are many Arrays and GoTO’s in there as well, the programme also uses the old RPG Cycle to read straight through the file with Primary file and L1 breaks , there are also data structures for the dates and not much notation! In Fact, i would say that there are about 20 numbered indicators that have no known notation</i>

Welcome to the world of businesses that have a history. That’s life.

Feel fortunate that you aren’t trying to maintain or to modernize DYL-260 or MARK-IV or other languages and constructs that have no current incarnations into modern structures. (Well, I guess MARK-IV still has a kind-of life, though I haven’t seen it for almost 35 years.)

You’re seeing what we had to work with ‘back then’. You’re seeing results of pressures to get things working in the shortest possible time with software tools that were primitive by today’s standards. You’re seeing results of tools that could be afforded by small business 20-30 years ago, not to mention the salaries that businesses were willing to pay.

You might not be aware that ILE has been around for 15+ years. You’d think by now that those old RPG III programs would already have been converted to RPG IV syntax at least. (The CVTRPGSRC does much of the work. 3rd-party tools can also be obtained.)

But it clearly hasn’t been done at your site. Yet, you have a management structure that provides training and encourages new technologies.

It seems to me that that puts a kind of scope on the big picture that you’re trying to see. How can those elements be reconciled?

Who in your organization can give an answer to that apparent paradox? Work out the answer to that question and then formulate a response to whatever comes back to you.

That looks to me to be a fundamental way to create a career.

Be sure not to undermine others. Get others to understand that you’re interested in long-term principles before short-term changes. Get others to be willing to contribute business knowledge rather than to resist an apparent attempt to rock the boat. Ideally, even get an old-timer or two to champion the effort.

Unfortunately, the Cycle, the Primary file and L1, the “20 numbered indicators”, all of those and more need to be addressed in some way. Someone actually has to do some work unless those programs are to be retired.

If you think your situation is messy, you should see what I went through while converting Autocoder being emulated on 370s into COBOL.

If you’re going to work for a company that has history, you will always have to dig your way through its old baggage. The alternative is to work for new upstarts and hope they survive.

Both ways can succeed.

Tom

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  • Sxlad2001
    Thanks for the responses, sounds like i have it easy compared to you Tom! I will thank my lucky stars that i do not have to deal with the DLY - 260 language? I just wanted to know if this is how everybody feels at the begininnig of their programming careers? Coming from a Windows environment(sales) I find the I-Series something of a steep learning learning curve, from both an operational and programming perspective. Phil, thanks for the encouragement, when I finished writing the post, I did indeed feel that I had acomplished many things, and yes I get that Bi-polar feeling alot! I used to have four bad days and one good day, now i'm up to 2 good days and 3 bad, so I must be getting the hang of it! Thanks again for the feedback and will take your comments on board Tom!
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  • philpl1jb
    When I think that it's hard, I remember a tour I had of a lead mine. In 1900 a loader had to pick up and load 21 tons of lead per day, 6 days a week 12 hours a day until they got hit by falling rocks or died from overwork at 35. This doesn't seem so bad compared to that!
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  • TomLiotta
    Coming from a Windows environment(sales) I find the I-Series something of a steep learning learning curve,... And coming from iSeries, I find the Windows environment to have a steep learning curve. I'd spend a month trying to figure out a reasonable install strategy for Exchange. I can work with SQL via MSDE, but I'd need another month to figure out a reasonable install strategy for SQL Server. And keeping either of them in a decent configuration...? And if anything went wrong...? It's always a matter of perspective. Tom
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  • Yorkshireman
    Coming from a Windows environment(sales) I find the I-Series something of a steep learning learning curve,… Well, consider that everything on the IBM i has a manual which explains it and many subjects have redpapaers which explain how to use 'it' Windows by comparison is unstructured, undisciplined, and every release of windows, or even an application like 'Word' is not backward compatible. I've been using this series of machines for decades, and I havne' t touched stuff you're already familiar with. and I still grapple with 20 year old code on a daily basis. And it still provides value for its owner, after several changes of hardware. No other business system does that. And if you look into the RPGIV language, you find that it can handle XML access all the C functions, use API's and MI instructions, manage memory and anything other languages can do. Focus your learning onto the language comprehensively by reading around the forums and writing non-critical R&D stuff in your spare time. Object management tools are usually a good start, Job controls - a better way of reporting errors and so on. Once you have a small corner you call your own - integration of system API's, say you can say to your guru 'here's a little routine i wrote which extracts all the fields atttributes form a file object, and presents a journal entry on screen parsed into a viewable display using system API's' You are the instant guru of API writing. Work outwards from there..
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  • BigKat
    Definitely great progress. If you keep trying new features, you feel like a novice at first, even after 16+ years. That is how you know you are learning. That doesn't mean you are a novice, that means you are someone willing to grow for the good of your company and your career. You are on the way to becoming the "integration guru" because you understand the fundamentals of all the pieces. Some peoples' knowledge is deep but narrow, others are wide but shallow. The wider your knowledge, the less susceptible you are to becoming obsolete (because you can always dig a little deeper as needed.)
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  • WoodEngineer
    I'd say you are having a baptism of fire. I can sympathize with your frustration. In spite of if all you are gaining a wonderful variety of knowledge. About C# . . . Most of the programs I have seen in almost 30 years on this platform (starting with S/38) are in RPG. As recommended, focus on "RPGLE using RPG IV". Coming from a Windows environment you may find free-form RPG somewhat familiar. Explore IBM's version of Eclipse/RDi for code development. It is so much faster than using green-screen SEU. Plus, it may be another point of comfort when coming from Windows. Another point that may give you a bit of comfort . . . IBM does not change things capriciously. We are running utilities developed in the early 80's and have never had to change a line of code even though we are running 6.1. A long time ago, one of the senior IBMers in the midrange division said in his lecture, "IBM is committed to protecting your investment in software." IMHO IBM continues to delivered on that committment year after year.
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  • WoodEngineer
    About those 20 indicators that want to make you scream . . . some old time programmers used tricks with indicators which can be rather obscure when reading the code. Here is a link to a good article about indicators just posted by Jon Paris. Hope it helps.
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  • pdraebel
    I have been on IBM midrange for over 20 years and I am still learning every day. That is the great thing in the iSeries world. What you have been doing in the past 18 months is a huge achievement and you should be proud of it. Keep an open mind and try to absorbe as much as you can You will get there and have fun in learning..
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  • philpl1jb
    18 months ago Sxlad2001 described how his first 18 months on the AS/40 had gone. So, Sxlad2001, how have has the next 18 months gone? Phil
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  • Kellyd
    Tom covered it pretty well, I date back to the S36 RPGII. To help with the indicators, depending on what position the indicator is in. I assume you are seeing some COMP opcodes. These can be translated to a IF statement based on the position of the indicator. The indicator in pos 71 for COMP opcode would be same as a IF x>y. pos 73 is <, 75 is =. As far as GOTO statements, I would try to at least write that logic into subroutines, or external program calls if the same logic is used in multiple programs. Sometimes it is easier to just start with the business requirements of the old program, and write the new one from scratch. Using the old program to determine the requirements. Hang in there, you never stop feeling like a novice, you will always be learning new technologies. RPG Free, and RPG Open are coming your way. Kelly
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  • Sxlad2001

    So here I am in 2013 and what can I say, I really love my job a lot! 

     

     I now only code in Free Format or SQL, I convert everything I come across!

     I implemented our Qlikview BI tool across the company and also rolled out all our Reports distribution using NPrinting/Qlikview.

     I also helped create our Archiving/Edocs solution as we are trying to go paperless across 20 branches! 80% there!

    I now play a major role in our Admin side and Help create CL's/FTP programmes to run our overnight processes/Tapes saves/ Mirroring etc. IPL's don't scare me anymore!

    Currently changing all our Outqs and DevD's in preparation for our upgrade to 7.1 and then will be rolling out RDP for our shop and making sure everyone knows how to use it! Cannot wait for that one.

     

    Still have days where I think I'm going to cry but they are very few and far between! I guess you could say I'm a fully fledged IBMer!!

     

    Thanks to all the guys on here who make our lives easier with their great knowledge base.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I manage out Tape Saves using BRMS, I use

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  • TomLiotta
    I now only code in Free Format or SQL...   By now you probably know that (1) both were available years before you started and (2) many other developers still can't see why they should be used.   Perhaps you've also seen in forums like ITKE that there are still questions about how to do tricky things in Windows .BAT files. Any platform that carries old technologies forward will always have those who use them. IMO, professional developers have a responsibility to their employers to try to keep processes on a par with their operating environments. It's not necessary to begin immediately upgrading every object, but process upgrades should be done as opportunities create availabilities.   I'd say you've been working appropriately. I suspect that you also realize that much more is possible. Keep at it. All kinds of stuff is within reach.   Tom
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