Informing the IBM Community

Orion – An RDi Alternative?


Open Source Software 320

Introduction –

Are you not yet using RDi for your RPG development, but are fed up with SEU lagging behind in releases and complaining of syntax errors when using the latest programming features?

Then maybe Orion is for you.

In this article, I would like to run you through a new addition to IBMs open source offerings on the IBM i.  This article will be covering the Orion editor, with my next article on the GIT source change control software, which is closely embedded within the Orion editor.

So what is Orion?

Orion is an open source development tool from the Eclipse Cloud Development team.

Simply put, it is a basic browser-based tool written in JavaScript.

IBM has ported this tool into option 8 of the Open Source Licensed Programs 5733OPS and provided us with a RPG verifier as a syntax checker.

Our source files for RPG must reside in the IFS.  Source residing in the IFS has been available for some time, but something I rarely used when discussing with students on our training courses.

Two standard questions we put to students on our programming courses are:

  1. Are you still using PDM/SEU/RLU?
  2. Does your source reside on the IFS?

The most common responses are: YES & NO J


Even though I have the latest, and greatest, operating system 7.3 installed on my companies IBM i, the install media did not contain the Orion development tool.  This is provided by loading PTF SI60170 onto the server.  This PTF can also be loaded onto any Version 7 IBM i Operating System, having said that, I had no problems with this PTF, but there seems to be other users that have had problems.  Time for an IBM PMR if you have problems.


Once the PTF had been installed, we need to start the Orion server.

This is achieved by running a QShell command:

 QSH CMD ( ‘/ QOpenSys / QIBM / ProdData / OPS / Orion / Orion’)

This command can be added to your startup programs, if you require it always to be available.

We can then see the Orion jobs running in our QHTTPSVR subsystem.

AY Jul 01

If you need to stop the server, run the command:

QSH CMD ( ‘/ QOpenSys / QIBM / ProdData / OPS / Orion / StopOrion’)

First thing we have to do is to register.  Unfortunately, there is no link here between our user profiles and Orion.  This would be a nice touch IBM.

We have to point our browser to port number 2025 on our server.

Once we have the Welcome Page, we need to register.  This can be seen in the figure below:

AY Jul 02

After registering, we need to create a new project.

AY Jul 03

And then give the project a name.

AY Jul 04

Once the project is created, let us create a new RPG source.  This is achieved in the figure below:

AY Jul 05


We can now enter some RPG.

AY Jul 06

Wow – RPG in a browser editor and all attractively colour coded!

So, type where we need to make our changes.  Don’t expect any prompting, or syntax checking, I did say it was simple!

We can use the colour coding to verify our syntax.  In the following figure we can see that the syntax errors have not been colour coded, and are therefore in error.

AY Jul 07

A very nice touch in Orion is that it auto saves after every change.  Less chance of losing any source changes now!

I don’t have to remember to press the save icon.  Having said that, I wish some applications that auto-saved also provided a save option, even if it doesn’t do anything!  Thinking of Microsoft One-Note here!

Another niceity, as it is all browser based, we can directly go to source and even bookmark it.



So, where does our source live on the IFS?

The location is: ‘/QOpenSys/QIBM/UserData/OPS/Orion/serverworkspace/an/andy/OrionContent/PowerWire/Power11_1.rpgle’

The figure below shows how the directory structure is built.

AY Jul 08

So, our compile command requires the SRCSTMF keyword to point to our Orion source location.

AY Jul 09

And there we have it.

Top Tip:

I had problems using the TAB key to indent my source, when saved on the server, the TAB character was saved, not the spaces that the compiler expected.

To get around this there is a setting that will convert the TAB character to spaces – Just what the compiler needed.

To change this parameter, click on the settings icon, in the left hand navigation pane.

AY Jul 10

This will bring up all settings, tick the ‘Insert spaces for tabs’

AY Jul 11

Our compiler will be happy!


It is worth mentioning there are a couple of the config files for Orion, these are:



Use the EDTF command to modify these files.  Full details on the parameters for these files can be found at the Orion Eclipse website here.


As I stated in my introduction, if you need to perform some quick fixes to your RPG, and your source already resides in the IFS, then Orion is a far better alternative than using SEU.

As this is an open source project, I’m sure there will be plug ins and extra features in the future to make this a viable option, probably not to the standard of RDi, but if cost is a concern at your site, then Orion is worth considering, give it a try.

Let us show IBM that we, the IBM i community, are willing to embrace the open source scenarios on our server and ask for them to give us more.  It is the way forward to entice the younger developers to get coding on our favourite server.

On the down side, it is another editor we have to learn.  I have Rational Develop for i, I have Zend Studio for my PHP projects, and now Orion – Come on IBM can we have some unity here!  The saying ‘Old dog & New tricks’ springs to mind, there’s only so much the old grey matter can handle these days J

Don’t forget the next i-UG meeting on 19th October 2016, held in Wolverhampton UK.  Details can be found at!i-ug-event-registration-page/c1pb7/?utm_source=SM&utm_medium=SM&utm_campaign=JUNE

Andy Youens is an IBM i consultant/instructor at Milton Keynes, UK-based FormaServe Systems.

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