What's new: Rational Developer for Power Systems Software version 7.5

The article describes what is new in version 7.5 of IBM® Rational® Developer for Power Systems Software™ and gives an overview of the basic functions. This is the follow-on product for IBM® Rational® Developer for IBM® i software.

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David Dykstal (david_dykstal@us.ibm.com), Senior Software Engineer, IBM

photo of David DykstalDave is a lead architect for Rational Developer for Power Systems Software product. He is also an Eclipse commiter on the Remote System Explorer project, the open source supplier of the basic technology used in this software. Dave has been responsible for the technology used in the IBM i Projects support in IBM Rational Developer and for the new IBM i operating system application build support found in IBM Rational Team Concert for Power. He has been with or around IBM for more than 33 years and was on the original development team for the IBM System/38.



30 August 2010 (First published 18 March 2010)

Also available in Chinese

Note: See What's new in IBM Rational Developer for Power Systems Software Version 8.0 for the latest information.

IBM® Rational® Developer for Power Systems Software™ is an integrated development environment (IDE) for creating and maintaining applications for the operating systems that run on IBM Power Systems hardware. The product helps developers create and maintain RPG, COBOL, CL, and DDS applications on IBM® i operating systems with visual design tools, modern editing features, integrated search and compilation message feedback, and remote debugging. It offers these advantages:

  • Provides a new Screen Designer for visual design of DDS display files and a new Report Designer for visual design of DDS printer files.
  • Generates a visual call graph for subroutine, procedure, and program calls from a selection of source members by using the Application Diagram.
  • Helps you understand how your Integrated Language Environment (ILE) programs and service programs are structured by visualizing the ILE bindings with the Application Diagram.
  • Easily debugs RPG, COBOL, and CL programs or stored procedures called from batch, interactive, Web or Web services by using service entry points.
  • Monitors changes to fields in real time while debugging applications.
  • Integrates with IBM® Rational Team Concert™ for Power Systems Software for change management and team collaboration.

In addition to these IBM i operating system tools, IBM plans to add C/C++ and COBOL development tools for the IBM® AIX® operating system to the Rational Developer for Power Systems Software family in the future, extending the benefits of having an integrated Eclipse development environment to teams developing C/C++ and COBOL applications for this system.

What's new

The following features are new for Rational Developer for Power Systems Software Version 7.5.

Screen Designer

The Screen Designer is no longer a technology preview. It is now a fully supported component of the RPG and COBOL for IBM i feature.

The following enhancements have been added since the last technology preview:

  • The Preview tab now shows you what your screens will look like (how a group of records might be displayed on a screen at run time). In the Design tab, you can create screens that are groupings of display records that you select. In addition, you can specify the order in which records in a screen are displayed on the preview pane.
  • In this release, when a DDS source file is first loaded, only the first record is displayed on the Design tab. This improves start-up performance for large DDS files over the previous release when all of the records were displayed.
  • The Magnification control on the Design tab is now called the Font control.

Report Designer

Report Designer is a new component that you can use to graphically design and modify the content of DDS printer files. In the same way that you use the Screen Designer to graphically design and test your display files, you can use Report Designer to create and test your printer files.

Report Designer features:

  • The Report Designer gives you the ability to graphically design printer file record formats. By using the Palette view, you can drag objects such as fields and constants onto the record format design area. In addition, you can use the Field Table view to create fields from a database reference file on a connected system.
  • In the Report Designer, you can create a REPORT that is a collection of record formats that you select. With this feature, you can view a complete report as it might appear on the printed page.
  • In the Design Reports view, you can specify default data to appear in selected fields for a more realistic view of a report.
  • On the Indicators tab, you can create named sets of indicators. In each indicator set, you can set any of the conditioning indicators on or off. The report will be displayed according to the settings of an indicator set. You can switch indicator sets to see how the report would appear with a different set of indicators.
  • In the Properties dialog, you can set preferences for the design page, including setting the record background color and the font.

As with the Screen Designer, you use the Source tab to directly edit those attributes that are not available in the Design view. Changes made to either the Design view or the Source view are constantly reflected in the other.

Dynamic job support in the integrated IBM i Debugger

When debugging an IBM i application, the debugger needs to know the job where the application will be running or is running before the debug session starts. For example, if your main application starts different jobs for different tasks, you don't always know the job numbers of these jobs. To debug a program running under a known, specific user profile, you can use the service entry point support. However, if all tasks in your application are running under different jobs but under the same user profile, service entry point support does not allow you to debug the particular task that you are interested in.

If you can set up your application to satisfy the following two conditions, you can use the new debugging support in the Integrated IBM i Debugger to debug your application:

  • During run time, your application or the control program of your application knows the job that you want to debug, and it can put the application on hold.
  • The application on hold can resume operation either by user interaction or by running a specific command.

Binary object support in IBM i Projects

Starting with this release, you can load binary objects into an IBM i Project. This lets you package most objects from your IBM i Operating System and distribute them to team members through a source control manager's repository, such as Rational Team Concert or IBM® Rational® ClearCase®. The objects are restored into the associated library of the project when pushed from the workspace to the IBM i. Restoring objects requires you to have *USE authority for the RSTOBJ command. You can perform basic operations on these objects while they are in the workspace, such as copy-and-paste and rename. Physical and logical files are currently not supported because of their potentially large size.


A quick overview of features

Let’s go through a quick summary of the major components of Rational Developer for Power Systems Software and the purpose of each.

Remote System Explorer

The Remote System Explorer (RSE) is the primary component of Rational Developer for Power Systems Software. It provides the view of your IBM® Power Systems™ and provides access to all their development resources. You can think of it as an enhanced and more flexible workstation version of the Programming Development Manager (PDM). You can also use it to effectively manage and organize all of the Power Systems resources and applications needed by application developers in an easy and user-friendly way.

The RSE offers a comprehensive set of services for viewing IBM i system objects and source members. It is a workbench perspective that consists of several workbench views. Each view accomplishes one purpose. The views all have tabs and can be moved from place to place within the perspective. Figure 1 shows the default layout of the RSE perspective falsely colored to distinguish between the major views.

Figure 1. The Remote System Explorer
Default layout of the RSE perspective

Application Diagram

  • The Application Diagram provides a graphical view of the different resources in an IBM i native application and their relationships to each other. There are two different diagrams that you can look at in the Application Diagram view: a Source Call Diagram and a Program Structure Diagram. The Source Call Diagram takes ILE RPG, ILE COBOL and CL source as input and displays a call graph showing subroutine and procedure calls.
  • The Program Structure Diagram takes program and service program objects as input and displays the binding relationships between them as well as the modules bound into each program and service program.

You can use both the Outline and Properties views with the Application Diagram viewer. The Outline view initially shows a thumbnail view of the entire diagram. This can be useful when the entire diagram does not fit within the visible space of the viewer.

The Application Diagram provides a graphical view of the different resources in an IBM i native application and their relationships to each other. There are two different diagrams that you can look at in the Application Diagram view: a Source Call Diagram and a Program Structure Diagram.

  • The Source Call Diagram takes ILE RPG, ILE COBOL, and CL source code as input and displays a call graph that shows subroutine and procedure calls.
  • The Program Structure Diagram takes program and service program objects as input and displays the binding relationships between them as well as the modules bound into each program and service program.

Figure 2 is an example of what you might see with the Source Call Diagram.

Figure 2. Source Call Diagram
Display of a call graph showing subroutines

You can use both the Outline and Properties views with the Application Diagram viewer. The Outline view initially shows a thumbnail view of the entire diagram. This can be useful when the entire diagram does not fit within the visible space of the viewer. The outline view highlights the area that is visible in the main viewer.

Screen Designer

With this release, the Screen Designer has moved from a technology preview to a fully supported component. The Screen Designer gives you the capability to graphically design and modify the content of DDS display files.

Figure 3. Editing with the Screen Designer
View of Screen Designer editing display file DDS

Larger view of Figure 3.

The Screen Designer Design page provides an integrated palette. Items on the palette can be dragged from the palette onto the design area to create a new item.

By using the Screen Designer Preview page, you can see how a group of records might be displayed on a screen at run time. You can also use it to specify indicator sets to activate and deactivate various attributes of the fields on the screen.

Report Designer

Similar to the Screen Designer and using the same underlying technology, the Report Designer helps you graphically design and modify the content of DDS printer files.

Figure 4. Editing with the Report Designer
View of Report Designer editing printer file DDS

Larger view of Figure 4.

The Report Designer design page provides an integrated palette. Items on the palette may be dragged from the palette and dropped onto the design area to create a new item.

The Report Designer lets you group individual records and see how this group of records would appear on the printed page. In addition, you can specify default data for each output field, and specify which indicators are on or off.

Integrated IBM i Debugger

With the Integrated i Debugger, you can debug an application that is running on an IBM i system. It provides an interactive graphical interface that makes it easy

to debug and test your IBM i programs. It is fully integrated into the workbench.

Figure 5. The Integrated i Debugger
The debugger stopped at a breakpoint

Larger view of Figure 5.

You can also set breakpoints before running the debugger directly in the source editor.

The Integrated i Debugger client user interface also enables you to control program execution. For example, you can run programs, set line, watch and service entry breakpoints, step through program instructions, examine variables, and examine the call stack.

You can also debug multiple applications, which may be written in different languages, from a single debug window. Each session that you debug is listed separately in the Debug view.

IBM i Projects

Figure 6. The IBM i Projects Perspective
The IBM i Projects navigator and member editor

Larger view of Figure 6.

IBM i Projects allow for disconnected development. A live connection is required only when code updates or builds are needed, or when you need to view remote resources for a project. If you are working on a remote laptop or you are working from home with a slower connection, you can choose to work in disconnected mode. With this option, you explicitly copy files locally while you have a live connection, close the connection, work on the files later, and upload them back to the server after you have finished. While working in the disconnected mode, you can still check source code for syntax and semantic errors and then connect only to submit a compiled file when you are ready to create the program objects.

Given that the resources in IBM i Projects are standard Eclipse-based project resources, it is possible to use a source control manager (SCM) supported by Eclipse. While various solutions are available, Rational Team Concert for Power Systems Software has been developed to work closely with the IBM i Project support.

IBM i Web services and Java tools

IBM i Web development tools is an option component that you can install to get the ability to create new business applications that use a Web-based front end to communicate with the business logic in an ILE or non-ILE language program on a IBM i server.

IBM i Web services are self-contained, modular applications that can be described, published, located, and invoked over the Internet, employing on-demand integration of services.

The Web Service wizard creates a bottom-up IBM i program Web service with Web service operations that call one or more server programs or service program procedures on IBM i systems.

The Web Service wizard works in the context of a Web project for creation, deployment, testing, generation of a proxy, and publication to a Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) registry of Web services.

The IBM i Web Services and Java™ tools can be installed only if the appropriate prerequisites are installed.


Summary

This article introduced the new functions available in the Rational Developer for Power Systems Software Version 7.5 and explored the basic functions of the product. We have only touched on the functions available in the Remote Systems Explorer, the Remote Systems LPEX Editor, the integrated debugger, and the screen and report designers. In addition, integration of IBM i Projects with Rational Team Concert for Power Systems Software offers advanced workflow and build capabilities. These topics will be covered in separate articles to be published later.

Resources

Learn

  • Find out more about IBM Rational Developer for Power Systems Software (formerly known as IBM® Rational® Developer for i), which provides a complete development environment for creating and maintaining RPG, COBOL, CL, and DDS based applications on IBM i systems.
  • Learn about other applications in the IBM Rational Software Delivery Platform, including collaboration tools for parallel development and geographically dispersed teams, plus specialized software for architecture management, asset management, change and release management, integrated requirements management, process and portfolio management, and quality management. You can find product manuals, installation guides, and other documentation in the IBM Rational Online Documentation Center.
  • Visit the Rational software area on developerWorks for technical resources and best practices for Rational Software Delivery Platform products.
  • Explore Rational computer-based, Web-based, and instructor-led online courses. Hone your skills and learn more about Rational tools with these courses, which range from introductory to advanced. The courses on this catalog are available for purchase through computer-based training or Web-based training. Some of the "Getting Started" courses are available free of charge.
  • Subscribe to the IBM developerWorks newsletter, a weekly update on the best of developerWorks tutorials, articles, downloads, community activities, webcasts and events.

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