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RPG developer
Tech Talk
Tech Talk Updated on Jun 11, 2024  |  5 Min Read

Business Application development has been central to IBM systems. While IBM i, the OS of IBM systems, is rather young – RPG language has been around for decades. When IBM i emerged as the futuristic and robust platform to run enterprise-scale applications, RPG was given a makeover into a modern business language.

Report Program Generator, abbreviated as RPG, is a high-level programming language. IBM i employs the approach of Integrated Language Environment® for programming and ILE RPG is the implementation of the RPG IV programming language. Since it is a proprietary module, it can be accessed only on IBM i systems.

Hiring RPG Programmers

Traditionally IBM i OS has been the choice for data-heavy business processes across industries. Government agencies, banking sector, healthcare, and manufacturing lines have used RPG for computing heavy applications that are not only mission-critical but also require the highest level of security features.

iSeries development projects are not limited to just data-heavy applications. Interactive web-based programs, Synon2/E application development, and Lansa low-code application development are some of the not-famous-yet IBM i projects that use the ILE family of compilers.

IBM i recently got a surge in popularity, after it was integrated with IoT and Watson AI. Many organizations are now beginning to use ILE RPG programming in their next business application for the elaborate advantages offered by the framework.

Some of the major benefits brought about by ILE RPG development are:

  • Accelerated development through code reuse
  • Object-oriented design and modular programming
  • Binding with other languages due to integrated approach
  • Enhanced application modularity with static binding
  • Seamless compatibility with the earlier versions

Since, IBM i environment is a niche for business applications, selecting an RPG developer is a little more demanding as compared to other software developers. This informative piece aims to offer recommendations to organizations planning for IBM i development.

Key Considerations for Choosing RPG Developers for IBM i Application Development

1. RPG Programming is an Acquired Skill

Many universities don’t offer RPG as a part of the curriculum and hence developers learn RPG and gain programming skills through natural career progression. Therefore, recruiters need to ascertain skill level without an academic accreditation to support the same. In such a situation, the portfolio of individual developers or the RPG development company comes in handy.

2. RPG IV has Evolved Dramatically

It is important for recruiters to note that RPG IV has been around for two decades. Even if the developer has proficiency in RPG IV, it might not be related to the requirements of your project. Integrated Language Environment, which has changed the business programming landscape, was rolled out by Version 2 Release 3 (V2R3).

It is the same version that has powered up RPG IV for enterprise application development. ILE enables all the benefits mentioned above and highly likely you are seeking an AS400 RPG developer experienced in ILE RPG programming.

3. Ability to Integrate the RPG Code

Since the enterprise IT environment is complex and heterogeneous, it is important for the RPG developer to be able to execute new integrations and understand the existing ones. Though it has been made possible to facilitate calls between RPG applications and apps built on other popular language frameworks such as JAVA, the scenario is not close to plug and play. Therefore, the ability to integrate the RPG code with new interfaces such as Python, PHP, XML is important.

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4. Experience in RPG/400

More often than not, several applications are coded primarily or exclusively in RPG/400 or RPG III. You may want to move these applications to RPG IV and therefore the newly onboarded AS400 RPG developer should have familiarity with earlier versions as well.

There are several tools available to make some style adjustments while transitioning from one version to another. The ILE compiler is starkly improvised over previous environments and developers with proficiency in one environment may face lag in the other.

5. Proficiency in Web Services

Proficiency in web services emerges as a critical skill set that organizations need to look for when choosing an RPG developer. A skilled iSeries RPG programmer must showcase an exhaustive understanding of web service protocols, such as SOAP or REST, and possess the rich expertise to seamlessly integrate these services within the IBM i environment. Furthermore, rich prowess in handling data formats like JSON or XML is critical for seamless communication between external web services and IBM i systems. Besides this, the AS400 RPG developer must possess the capability to design, develop, and troubleshoot web service interfaces while ensuring smooth interoperability between external platforms and IBM i applications.

6. Knack for Debugging

It is important to be mindful of the fact that service entry points are not available for all types of programs. Only those programs that are created in an Integrated Language Environment have the facility to employ a service entry point for a debugging session. Having said that, non-ILE programs can be debugged in a session that was initially started with a service entry point. It might seem tedious, but it is still doable.

7. Experience in IBM i App Development

When considering RPG programmers for IBM i application development, it’s pivotal to prioritize candidates having rich proficiency in navigating the intricacies and unique features of the IBM i platform. Besides this, developers must possess a deep understanding of the IBM i environment, including familiarity with security protocols, job scheduling mechanisms, and integrated databases such as Oracle, AS400/DB2, and SQLServer. In short, prioritizing expertise in IBM i app development is critical for securing developers who not only possess RPG programming skills but also bring a thorough understanding of the IBM i platform’s nuances and capabilities to the table.

8. Familiarity with Migration Protocols

In many enterprises, a sizable number of applications are running on IBM iSeries-AS400. Depending on project goals, organizations undertake migration of such apps to cloud technologies or an improved architectural framework. Hence, it would be helpful if the RPG developer is familiar with migration practices such as refactoring of apps, phased transfer of load, custom migration approach, etc.

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Summing Up

A little planning and thought in recruitment can help in sourcing the right talent for your IBM i application development project. With strategic screening, recruiters can shorten the onboarding time and accelerate development. A rather efficient option is to source experienced talent from a professional IBM i app development company that can augment your team by accurately identifying the resource gap.

Case in Focus

A Miami-based insurance company striving to stay competitive and efficient. For quite some time, the client was facing myriad challenges owing to its legacy systems and siloed applications. Seeking a holistic solution, the client turned to Damco Solutions for IBM i Application Development to modernize its IT infrastructure. Working closely with Damco’s AS400 RPG programmers not only resolved existing challenges but also positioned the client for future growth and success.

Revolutionize IBM i Application Development with RPG Experts