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AS/400 Developers, Here's How to Stay Productive During Quarantine

Bill Onion
March 20, 2020 | 10:30 AM

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Are you an AS/400 developer with some unexpected time on your hands?

With the news changing every day and more and more companies pressing pause on projects, you may find yourself with some extra time on your hands. So, what's a self-motivated AS/400 developer to do? We have a few ideas of how to help yourself and your organization get through this pandemic successfully.  

First: Fix the Name 

You know that the AS/400 doesn’t exist anymore, right? That platform has been gone for a very long time. Since 2008, you’ve been working on IBM ian integrated operating system, database, anmiddleware that runs on the IBM Power System hardware platform. So, when you say you’re an “AS/400” person, what you’re really saying is “I work with IBM i but I’m stuck in the past.” With a newly cleared schedule, start getting into the habit of using IBM i. 

Learn a New Skill 

What new tools or processes have you been meaning to explore? Now is the time to get familiar with some updated technology or integration tools. The following *FREE* resource may assist many out there adopting truly modern, *NATIVE* (to IBM i) development approaches: https://www.ile-rpg.org/education.html 

RDi 

Hear us out: you're working in the 21st century, shouldn't you be using a 21st century development tool? RDi gives you a modern environment for writing RPG code, letting you modernize your system while maintaining traditional RPG, COBOL, C, C++, DDS, and SQL applications, as well as extend those with services and applications using other technologies. Why not give it a try? You might be able to help your company further connect some of your business processes.  

XML Integration 

Now is a great time to take a look at XML integration and how you can pass data back and forth from the IBM platform. Even if it sounds like a distant dream for your system, XML integration is a very real process that people are using today. Take this opportunity to sit with the web team (well, virtually or socially distanced at least) and learn how they do things. Getting your head outside IBM i a bit will open you up to new opportunities for data communication on the system.  

Focus on Business Expertise  

As a member of the development team, you know how your company's software works better than anyone else in the organization. How can you use that knowledge to help improve how your company runs? While everyone may have some free time on their schedules, talk to business process owners about what they do and how they do it. You never know where your technical expertise can help alleviate some of their pain points.  

Turn "Can't" into "Can" 

As a developer, you've probably had to tell people more than once that "we can't do that." Instead of focusing on what won't work, now is the time to turn that statement around and instead ask, what can we do? How can you generate new revenue? What are some new ways to solve old problems? Find new and creative ways for your company to survive during this trying time.  

Open Up to New Ideas 

Along similar lines, it's important to stay open to new ideas, integrations, and technologies. Like we talked about with XML integration, storing web data on IBM i is not a bad thing. Selling online is real; companies have to sell on the web these days. That means that you have to be able to communicate data to and from IBM i in real time, not batch. How can you achieve that with your system? 

Address Your Documentation 

Let's be honest here, most people's IBM i documentation is not great. What better time to work on fixing that? From the highest levels down to the nittiest of gritty, take a look at all of your documentation. If you or a member of your team is looking to retire in the next few years (or even months) how hard will it be for someone new to figure out what's going on? And before you say, "it's documented in the code," why not follow the Boy Scout motto: leave it better than you found it. The best way to do that is through documentation.  

The focus here should be on functional documents. Explaining why you've done something is often more important than how you did something. Now, this means opening up a Word document and putting words to page. We know it's scary, but it will be worth it. And for extra credit, why not consider a diagram of your data flow?  

Be a Leader 

Look, we know you became a developer partly because it guaranteed you wouldn't have to talk to people all that often. But as a member of the IBM i development team, you've likely been around your organization long enough to know what's going on in your company. While other team members may be scrambling and afraid for the future, why not be a leader? You can navigate through this challenge and help guide your business through to the other side. 

Are You Up for the Challenge? 

So, what do you think? Are you ready to tackle some of these challenges? Even if you only have the bandwidth to handle one right now, that’s better than none. As the next few weeks unfold, use this opportunity to prove to your organization what an invaluable resource you are. It will help both you and your company move through this crisis as unscathed as possible.  

Start today by checking out these IBM i Commerce Integration Resources

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