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RPG Web Extensions: A new Software tool for "i apps"

08-18-2015 12:18 PM CET | IT, New Media & Software

Press release from: Toolmaker Advanced Efficiency GmbH

The IBM Power i servers are legendary in reliability, security and high performance. No other system has such a low total cost of ownership (TCO). Technology wise, they are also top because IBM have continually modernized them over the years. However, despite their excellent value in daily use, they suffer from a specific lack: When compared to modern applications with graphical interfaces, their user interface via 5250 emulation looks very outdated.

Up to 2014, whoever wanted to use modern “i applications” had to buy additional tools and invest in extra programming. Not any more: With "RPG Web Extensions" (WOPiXX), Toolmaker has developed a software tool that allows each and every RPG and COBOL programmer in the world to develop modern, browser-based applications. Modern HTML and javascript functions give you user friendly, interactive applications with the ease of use and intelligence of browser applications plus any additional functions possible on the web. The very best feature of WOPiXX however is: The whole set is completely free.

In the past, several software and tool vendors have developed tools designed to either pimp the appearanceof the outdated 5250 applications through Windows or Java GUIs, or ported the RPG code to C# or Java. But up to this day there is no standard solution for the development of modern browser-based applications within the Power i programming arena using RPG and COBOL. With the concept presented here, a new standard could be established.

WOPiXX is a function library for IBM Power i, which offers the programmer extended functionality in RPG and COBOL. The source code can be edited using RDi or PDM and be compiled using PDM option 14. The results are normal IBM objects that run on any IBM i on which this new library is installed. Applications developed with WOPiXX have no DDS and offer no green screen. Batch programs are not affected because they offer no interaction with the user. The IBM supplied standard Apache web server is used to handle the connection with the browser sessions of the users.

Fast and easy development

The entire HTML and Javascript programming is encapsulated within the WOPiXX functions. This means, programmers who work with it do not need education in HTML or Javascript at all. Thanks to the simplicity of the WOPiXX functions beginners, as well such as “silver agers”, can – virtually overnight – develop native browser applications for IBM Power i. Thanks to the advanced efficiency concept which the WOPiXX environment offers, RPG and COBOL source code can be stripped by 50 to 80 percent (!) compared to traditional 5250 programs. The same savings apply to the time needed for coding WOPiXX compared to 5250 programs.

Worldwide free, worldwide available, worldwide usable

WOPiXX is free for all users; developers, software vendors, businesses etc. Everybody can make use of this function library for free and thus create any applications he or she desires. Because of its well prepared concept, WOPiXX is ready to meet the demands of worldwide users: WOPiXX offers multi lingual development (currently available languages are English, German, French, Italian and Polish), multilingual help buttons for each field and unicode support. Thus, WOPiXX is prepared to run safely on any international level.

There are preparations underway to offer an app store for WOPiXX applications. Any and all relevant apps for IBM i will be offered worldwide. Users can choose from software offered for download. Thus, developers of apps (third-party) can generate income with their WOPiXX applications right out of the WOPiXX Apps4i-Store. This store offers developers an international marketplace for innovative native i applications. Apps on the store that are successfully tested and meet certain requirements will be awarded with a Quality seal .

The system is already working
Comfort: The WOPiXX environment includes standard applications that provide for easier operation and handling i.e. for managing user profiles, passwords, subsystems, jobs, jobqs, spool files, triggers, and more.

Security: The built-in security mechanisms protect against unauthorized external users as well as against uncontrolled attacks from any users into the system. The WOPiXX system has already passed comprehensive intrusion testing by IBM.

Quality: Even though the WOPiXX environment will be made available to the global market beginning 2015 , several applications have already been developed and are successfully in use on this platform since 2011 . The team of specialists involved in the development of WOPiXX includes Birgitta Hauser, internationally reputable expert in RPG and SQL on i.

The bottom line - and a visionary future
For decades IBM Power i systems belong to the most reliable IT systems in the world. Its TCO is by far better than that of most Unix, Linux or Windows systems. Its only (but very obvious) weak point the still popular 5250 green screen.

Generally speaking, the WOPiXX development environment prepares the ground for all RPG or COBOL programmers in the world to now develop modern business applications without restrictions. The proven advantages that Power i provides can now be united with a modern browser based user interface – without any additional cost. The time has finally come that with the use and the intelligence of many, the Power i platform may see an unprecedented revival.

Each new WOPiXX based application can be presented and downloaded in the App Store - on a global market. New applications with a modern user interface achieve a high level of acceptance and have real international opportunities.

There are many more ideas for future development. One of the projects already on the way is using the same programming for touch devices such as tablets and smart phones.

Josef Grünbichler,

Über Toolmaker
Toolmaker Advanced Efficiency GmbH realisiert seit 1986 intuitiv bedienbare Lösungen für die IBM i Server-Plattform (Power i). Der Fokus liegt auf Effizienz: Das sind Lösungen, die das tägliche Arbeitsleben vereinfachen, die Leistung steigern und die Kosten in der Verwaltung senken.

Die Toolmaker Advanced Efficiency-Lösungen erleichtern und automatisieren Prozesse in mittelständischen wie in großen Unternehmen. Sie holen mehr raus als vergleichbare Produkte und setzen die enorme Leistung der i-Plattform optimal um.

Toolmaker-Lösungen laufen native auf i: Wer sie nutzt, kann auf zusätzliche Windows-Server und PC-Clients verzichten. Für die neuen Rich-Internet-Applikationen genügt ein Browser am Arbeitsplatz und eine Power i im Hintergrund. Diese Kombination ist nicht nur unerreicht in Leistung und Zuverlässigkeit, sie schlägt Client/Server basierte Systeme auch deutlich auf der Kostenseite.

Toolmaker setzt auf anwenderfreundliche Lösungen, die webbasiert entwickelt sind. Sie sind mit wenig Aufwand zu installieren, erfordern keine komplexen, kostspieligen Programm-Anpassungen und können in kürzester Zeit produktiv gehen.

Johannes Förster
Toolmaker Advanced Efficiency GmbH
Westendstraße 34
86916 Kaufering
Tel +49 (0) 8191-968-0
Fax +49 (0) 8191-968-100

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