Firstly, thank-you to all that attended my RDi session at the last UK iUG meeting. I hope you enjoyed it.
At that presentation, I notified all that IBM were due to release Version 9.6 of RDi on the 16/11/2017, which replaces RDi version 126.96.36.199
It will require a new install and also there are new activation kits for the license.
As with previous versions, a 60-day trial is available. This can be found on the IBM Developer Works site at https://ibm.com/developerworks/downloads/r/rdi/.
Let me go through the changes I’ve found with this version.
The first of the enhancements for me to mention. With this version of RDi, we see that it is now based on the latest available version of Eclipse, which is Eclipse 4.6 – or Eclipse Neon for those who have any idea about Eclipse project names.
This is significant if we are looking for plugins to use with RDi, how many times have I downloaded an Eclipse plugin only to be told its not compatible with this version of Eclipse.
Andy’s verdict: Nice Touch
Hovering Over Variables
Another enhancement in this version is the information provided when we select a variable. Gone are the days when we clambered for the i-Specs to find definitions.
It also applies when we modify a database field’s value.
Andy’s verdict: Useful, but expected of an IDE these days
Error reporting is enhanced to use notes that highlight the columns within the line that have caused compile errors
In the figure below, we can see these informational messages, hovering over them gives more details.
You do not need to compile your source for this feature to be enabled.
Just be aware, I did have a few issues with this feature working on a very large source member, you know, the ones that have been around for years and nobody wants to maintain! Every couple of minutes it would hang for 30 seconds or more, it seemed this new feature was the slowdown culprit.
Thankfully, it can be switched off in the settings seen in the figure below.
Andy’s verdict: Useful Feature IBM (Beware using with Large source)
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has installed RDi, and all its’ previous names and incarnations, many, many times answering the same old questions. Ah, no more. IBM has provided us with a method to use a silent install installation.
The IBM technote for detailed instructions on how to use silent install can be found at https://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg21668005
Andy’s verdict: Nice one IBM!
At last IBM, a way to split a line and continue typing. How many of us have tried to use the split a line function previously, ALT-S, then had to realign all the code until it looked sensible again.
Now just pressing the Enter key achieves what we all wanted previously.
Unfortunately, we cannot press backspace to delete the Enter key action and join the line back up. We have to use ALT+J to achieve this.
Andy’s verdict: We’ve been waiting a long time for this – glad to see it here!
Access for Client Solutions
IBMs Access for Client Solutions is now shipped with RDi 9.6.
We can now easily start a 5250 session from within RDi.
Andy’s verdict: Nice one IBM!
Yes, I know, the refactoring feature was available in the last release, as a Version 188.8.131.52 fix pack for RDi, but I thought it was worth a mention here.
I’ve used refactoring in other editors, NetBeans etc, so was hopeful the RDi implementation would follow suit. Maybe, that will come in time, hopefully IBM will listen.
So, what is refactoring?
- Refactoring is the process of changing code without changing the function of the code
- The purpose of refactoring is to make the code more readable & maintainable
- More than just a rename!
Let me give a quick example.
In the following code, you will see I’ve defined 4 cut-off fields, Cutoff, Cutoff2, Cutoff3, Cutoff4. I now want to change the variable Cutoff to Cutoff0.
As I’m sure you can phantom out, a quick find and replace would change all my Cutoff variables’, not what I want!
To use the new refactoring feature, we should be able to change the name of this variable and leave the rest as is.
If we highlight the variable, then right click on it > Refactor > Rename
Enter the new name of the variable and RDi will let you know of any issues.
And now, very nicely, we see all the changes that will be made to our source.
Please be aware, that refactoring does NOT change copybooks!
Personally, I would like it to be more thorough. If I change the name of a program from say, ABC123 to DEF123, I would like the refactoring process to find all the occurrences of where program ABC123 was called and change the call to DEF123, including all copybooks.
Andy’s verdict: Good Introduction to Refactoring
IBM has provided us with a tool that can greatly enhance our productivity, with some interesting touches. I’ve only been using this version for a few days, I’m sure there are many more enhancements in there for me to find. Watch this space!
Personally, if I didn’t have software maintenance, would I cough up nearly £700 for this upgrade, no chance at all. I would stick with previous versions that can still do the job a lot better than SEU does.
I did have a big belly laugh at someone’s comment “That licensing problem is a show-stopper for me. I hate IBM fulfilment enough already.”
Let us all plug the “What about an RDi Lite Version IBM?”
The next UK IBM i user group meeting is on Thursday 2nd February, next year, at – The Mercure Norton Grange Hotel in Rochdale; full details can be found on the iUG site here. Hope to see you all there!
Andy Youens is an IBM i consultant/instructor at Milton Keynes, UK-based FormaServe Systems.