Should I Learn RDi?

Bill Onion

Chances are, if you’re asking yourself this question the answer is yes. But before we go about convincing you one way or the other, let’s back up and break it down one step at a time. 


What is RDi?  

RDi, or Rational Developer for i, is an integrated development environment designed by IBM to help IBM i developers improve productivity by utilizing modern applications on the IBM i platform. 

RDi is the successor to WDSC, a Windows-based IDE that was based on the open source Eclipse project customized for System i developers. As of 2010, though the shift started long before then, IBM stopped supporting WDSC and RDi became the big man on campus. 

How does RDi help developers?

RDi’s main benefit is that it boosts productivity, and it does this in a few different ways.

Firstly, RDi allows developers to store the code they’re working on locally in RDi meaning you don’t need to be connected to the IBM i system in order to work on the code. This gives developers the freedom to work in or out of the officea convenient option, especially if, for example, they need to work from home for the foreseeable future due to a world-wide pandemic (hypothetically speaking of course)

Secondly, and this is a popular one, it gets rid of the much-dreaded green screen. While we are always nostalgic for a good green screen, we appreciate modernization and understand that sacrifices must be made throughout the processRDi operates through a full-screen editor which allows you to take advantage of color tokenizing, making different lines and comments easily identifiable. By granting developers the ability to customize their layout, RDi increases the speed at which developers are able to work as they can create an environment that promotes their work style

Additional productivity advantages include, but are certainly not limited to, the option to create individual libraries for each connection, the ability to edit multiple users at once, and a single debugger tool which can work through multiple languages and multiple jobs on multiple systems. 

Will RDi make me a better developer?

If the foundational skills are there, they won’t go away if you don’t have RDi knowledge. But if you’re wondering if RDi will make you more efficient and therefore a more valuable developer, the answer is yes.

In hopes of allowing the IBM i to modernize and grow alongside a business, new versions and “fix packs” for RDi have continued to be released thanks to the Request for Enhancements (RFE) programA genius design by IBM, the RFE program allows RDi users to request and vote on updates that they feel should be part of the next update. By crowdsourcing the consumer, IBM empowers the development team to give the people what they want making RDi an even more useful tool and a more powerful community to be a part of. 

The latest RDi release includes updates for copying source membersand more specifically the default behavior pertaining to the location, as well as additional options for how to manage your library list, and an enhanced search index for all the different customizable preferences that RDi offers. For a more comprehensive walk-thru of the updates in Version 9.6, check out the Guru feed on IT Jungle. 

So, while RDi may not be a make or break, it certainly is used commonly enough by now that most employers are looking for it listed as a skill setAside from the functional improvement it offers, having RDi knowledge shows that you are learning-focused, open to improvement, and that you value productivity. Whether you’re looking to beef up your resume or help improve department performance, RDi is a great place to start.

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