On Friday June 14 we GAed z/OS Explorer V2.1 and CICS Explorer V5.1.1, that is to say, they became generally available for download. That wasn't all - we also made our new repository of compatible plug-ins available, with plug-ins for five CICS Tools, five IBM Problem Determination Tools, IBM Data Studio, Rational Team Concert, a 90-day trial version of Rational developer for System z.
I've been the marketing manager for CICS Explorer, and more recently, z/OS Explorer, for over five years now, so I obviously have an interest. When we started CICS Explorer back in 2008 - earlier if you count the planning and development - we had a SupportPac with read-only support for CICS TS along with plug-ins for three CICS Tools. Now we have a common component used by 15 plug-ins from three IBM brands. So, even though it was Saturday, since I'd been waiting for this for some time, I decided to try the installation.
I started by going to the download tab on the z/OS Explorer page, and selected the download in Scenario 1, which uses IBM Installation Manager (IM). The IM package is about 700MB so took about 10 minutes on my home broadband. Another 10 minuets to unzip it. Then I ran the launchpad.exe in the disk1 folder which first installs IM and then z/OS Explorer. I then ran z/OS Explorer from the Start menu and configured my FTP and z/OSMF connections, and was able to access z/OS datasets, z/FS files, and JES jobs and output.
I then launched IM again, this time from the Start menu and used File/Preferences to create a repository definition with URL http://public.dhe.ibm.com/software/htp/zos/2/1/0 . I then selected Install, and clicked on the Check for other Versions, Fixes and Extensions button, and saw all of the products listed above. I installed them in groups - CICS Explorer and CICS Tools, Data Studio, and the Rational products - so that I could see how long they all took, but you can select and install them all at once. All of the plug-ins are downloaded as part of the install, so you need to be attached to a network, but I think that you can create an internal staging server within your own networks. You need to enter a jazz.net id and password to access the rational products, and an IBM id (like you'd use here on dWorks) to access Data Studio, but once you've entered them once, you can save them for future use.
All in all, it probably took a couple of hours to install everything - some of the downloads are quite large, so it may take longer on some networks. But, after that time, I was able to run z/OS Explorer again and find all of the perspectives, views, and actions contributed by ten different products within a single IDE. The five PD Tools aren't loaded on the IM repository yet, though they are available in the Eclipse P2 repository, but I'm sure they'll be there in the next day or so. With them, and MQ Explorer and IMS Enterprise Explorer - both slated for future delivery in a recent Statement of Direction - you'll be able to run close to twenty products covering z/OS and its key subsystems in a single workbench.
I have to admit that I was concerned that running so many plug-ins in one would really slow down the z/OS Explorer start-up time, and the first time I used it after each install it did take longer to start, but the second and subsequent times it was back to normal, taking about 20 seconds.
Thanks to everyone who made it happen. It's a great story and I thought it needed to be told.
Updated Tuesday 18th June 2013
Warning: Long path names A few people have experienced problems unzipping the initial downloads on Windows XP machines. The problem is caused when the package is unzipped to a folder whose path is longer than about 90 characters - our longest file has a path of about 160 characters. Older unzip product like WInzip and Windows compressed folders cannot create files with a pathlength longer than 255. Either unzip the package from a short path, or use something like 7-Zip. Updated 20th June: Apparently the unzip problem is well known, if not well understood. Learn more in this technote.
Overnight, the PD Tools were added to the IM repository, so I reran IM, selected the plug-ins for the five PD tools and within about 15 minutes, the plug-ins were successfully installed, as you can see in the following screenshot. When I restarted z/OS Explorer, it still just took 22 seconds - now with 18 plug-ins!
If you want to see what's going on in a little more detail, take a look at this post on cicsabel's blog: https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/community/blogs/cicsabel/entry/installing_my_first_z_os_explorer?lang=en (thanks, Isabel)