IBM i computer, formerly named AS/400, iSeries, i5

Using Git on IBM i (with video review)

Git on IBMiWe’ve seen a surge of interest in Git version control on IBM i, so a recent video about Git caught my eye. 

The Git trend makes perfect sense as IBM i teams adopt languages such as PHP, Javascript, and Python to develop web user interfaces, APIs, and other functionality. That said, Git also supports the traditional IBM i language, RPG.

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With a Lot of Help from My i

This past October I had the pleasure of collaborating musically with Ted Holt at the RPG & DB2 Summit.  Ted is not only a seasoned IBM i programmer, mastermind behind IT Jungle’s Guru column, and a speaker at many conferences, but also a musician who plays the ukulele, the banjo, the piano, and who knows what else.

Ted traditionally closes the Summit with an original IBM i rendition of a classic song. For this Summit I suggested that he adapt The Beatles’ With a Little Help from My Friends. Ted wrote the lyrics for, and invited me to help lead the group in, With a Lot of Help from My i.

Enjoy the video and lyrics below!

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Add apachectl to IBM i for Controlling Apache Web Instances

sobo.redHere at Seiden Group, we seek ways to make IBM i systems more congenial for developers accustomed to other platforms, such as Linux.

Developers coming from a non-IBM i background know how to run the apachectl command to start, restart, and end an Apache web server instance. Instead of apachectl, however, IBM i provides a web-based graphical interface and the commands STRTCPSVR and ENDTCPSVR (be sure to prompt those for parameters using F4).

To supply the “missing” apachectl command for IBM i, I have written a BASH shell script that simulates apachectl on IBM i.

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Where to find DB2 for IBM i documentation

It’s not always easy to locate the official documentation for all features of DB2 for IBM i. Using Google Search is hit or miss, with full-text searches often bringing irrelevant results from other varieties of DB2 or from older versions. Many people don’t know that complete reference manuals are available for almost every aspect of DB2 on i.

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Use an IBM i Service to Find Your Technology Refresh (TR) Level

IBMi Technology RefreshWith another new IBM i Technology Refresh upon us, here’s a quick reminder how to find your server’s current TR level.

It’s getting easier and easier to do. An IBM i Service using DB2 and SQL provides the TR level more cleanly than older approaches. I love that we can use the universal SQL to expose the innards of our beloved system!

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Let’s Meet Up at COMMON, May 6-10, 2017

The Seiden Group team is headed to Orlando May 6-10 to participate in COMMON 2017. In addition to teaching sessions and workshops on best practices for using PHP and other open source technologies on IBM i, we’re looking forward to meeting up with our clients and friends.

One of our favorite opportunities at COMMON is to meet professionals at all levels of the IT organization. Understanding the challenges faced by each member of the IT team — from admin to CIO — strengthens our ability to build effective solutions that are easy to use, easy to extend, easy to maintain.

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RPG & DB2 Summit: March 21-23, 2017, in Orlando

In just two weeks I’ll have the pleasure of joining some of the top IBM i development experts in Orlando for the RPG & DB2 Summit. Run by Susan Gantner, Jon Paris and Paul Tuohy, this conference is full of big personalities who create a warm, friendly environment that’s perfect for learning.

I enjoy the community feeling and how excited everyone is to solve development problems and share tips and techniques.

The RPG & DB2 Summit is one of the few training events that focuses exclusively on topics of interest to IBM i developers. That includes PHP and SQL, of course!

Check out the session grid and pay special attention to the Hands-on PHP Workshop on Monday, March 20, followed by several PHP and open source sessions given by yours truly and Zend’s Mike Pavlak, plus a whole array of SQL sessions. And maybe a few on RPG.

I think they should change the name of the conference to the RPG, PHP, SQL & DB2 Summit, don’t you?

Come join us!

Steph Rabbani and Liam Allan are Fresh Faces of IBM i

I was thrilled yesterday to see the familiar face of Seiden Group’s own Stephanie Rabbani smiling up at me from IBM i’s Home page, next to our friend and Club Seiden colleague Liam Allan.

Both are currently featured by IBM as “Fresh Faces of IBM i” along with Kody Robinson of Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation — just a few of the outstanding young professionals on our platform.

fresh-faces-of-ibm-i

This honor calls attention to what I know of Stephanie first-hand from working side-by-side with her on Seiden Group consulting projects. With 14 years experience on the IBM i, she is versatile, resourceful, and personable, with skills in PHP, RPG, WebSmart, and more. And she strongly advocates the continued use of IBM i as the best business platform. Well done, Steph!

Liam Allan is another impressive young developer. At just 19 years old, he earned the 2016 COMMON Student Innovation Award and quickly found himself at home on the speaking circuit with audiences eager to learn his techniques. He could program in any language but has chosen primarily to advance the art of RPG. I’m looking forward to seeing him again in March, when we both travel to Orlando to speak at the RPG & DB2 Summit. Go Liam!

But these “Fresh Faces” represent something bigger than individual excellence. To all of us with valuable business assets on the IBM i, they are visible evidence that we are beginning to succeed in attracting young talent to the platform. I see other such evidence in my work as a consultant, in my sessions at conferences, in the classroom when I train.

So thank you, IBM! Your efforts to modernize the IBM i development environment are paying off.

And thank you to all of the seasoned developers who have moved to RSE and free format RPG, who have led their organizations to rewrite or extend their applications using ILE, SQL, new DB2 techniques…and, my favorite of course, PHP.

With efforts to make IBM i code more broadly accessible, coupled with talented young developers who are interested in working on the IBM i, the future of our data and business logic looks brighter than it has in years.

You can personally be a part of IBM i’s revitalization. Adopt modern development techniques. Mentor a younger developer. Continually learn new skills. Ask for help when you need it.

If you’d like to discuss what Steph and the whole Seiden Group can help you accomplish, send us a note.

Congratulations to Steph, Liam and Kody!

Zend Server for IBM i support knowledge base

The support team at Zend has written a knowledge base of tips for configuring and administering Zend Server for IBM i.  The tips, written chiefly by Rod Flohr, are accurate and thorough. Recommended is the site’s option to notify registered users when new articles are posted. URL: https://support.zend.com/hc/en-us/sections/200554323-Zend-Server-for-IBM-i

Collaboration at COMMON

The 2015 COMMON annual meeting and expo, now in its first day, is helping speakers and attendees create innovation through IBM i integration: open source, closed source, IBM and vendor solutions. For example, of my six presentations during this conference, two are collaborations:

The Art of Performance Diagnostics, with IBM’s Dawn May, allows us to show, among other topics, how IBM i’s integrated performance tools complement green-screen tools and third-party tools (in this case, Zend Server) to pinpoint and solve performance issues (here, PHP-and DB2-based applications).

PHP Tricks for RPG Developers, a talk jointly created by RPG and SQL expert Birgitta Hauser and me, combines RPG, PHP, and DB2, allowing RPG to achieve graphical (charts and graphs, PDF and Excel files) and internet (json-based web services, flexible email) functionality using native functions.

Conferences such as COMMON serve a need that’s difficult to replicate back at the office—brainstorming and sharing possibilities among interdisciplinary peers, or sitting side-by-side with like-minded colleagues who work for different employers, to try something new. This week, for example, some of us plan to share knowledge on compiling binaries in PASE and to further the potential of open source on IBM i. I’m looking forward to presenting my talks (both joint and solo) and helping to realize new ideas with forward-looking colleagues during the conference.

Birgitta Hauser and Alan Seiden collaborate on their talk at COMMON 2015

Birgitta Hauser and Alan Seiden collaborate on their talk at COMMON 2015