• Subject: Re: Java for AS400
  • From: "R. Bruce Hoffman, Jr." <rbruceh@xxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 03 Mar 1999 11:27:37 -0500

Jon.Paris@halinfo.it wrote:

> Hate ?  No - correction - Yes !!

Rise to the bait...  or is that debate??
> The upcoming release of VisualAge for RPG is removing its Windows
> dependency by directly generating Java as an alternative to Windows
> executables.  I know it works because I have it here on my laptop and it
> works just fine.  Upcoming releases are supposed to allow you to integrate
> you new Java components with the RPG generated stuff etc. etc.

All well and good, a good choice for a back end.  But does the
development environment still run under Windows?  Can the development
envionment run on other platforms and still generate the Java output
from RPG input?  That would shock me.  

> I would hate to view it as a "conversion" tool - although I _know_ some
> marketing folks will sell it that way.  But it does work and offers a
> viable method for preserving and modernizing an existing application base -
> not to mention allowing for a more gradual skills transition.

I agree.  Conversion is not what this product should be about.  Using a
"code generator" as a "conversion tool" can only lead to more problems
than tearing out the current technology and inserting a new one.

Actually, that last statement could be the definition.  Do you really
want to preserve existing applications?  If you must, then maybe the RPG
is the way to go.  I have to ponder this question some more...

As for the gradual skills transition, take a COBOL programmer.  Put him
in the "exciting" environment of RPG III, COBOL, PL/I and C development
on the AS/400.  Try to transition his skills to use languages other than
COBOL.  Guess what?  He (oops, /she) generally will continue to fall
back on COBOL whenever pressed.  I have personally witnessed this
phenomena many times over.  Some programmers (unfortunately, mostly
young and impressionable, but there are exceptions) make the
transition.  Note I said some.  Many more, in my experience, as many as
60% to 70%, do not make the transition.  (No, I don't think it's the
region, but, I could be wrong.)

> I know you spreken the C++ and Java (as well as RPG and COBOL) but frankly
> I think I'm in the majority in that learning OO (forget Java) is
> non-trivial.  I think the flaw in Rochester's plans is that they too often
> fail to appreciate that the language is not the issue - OO analysis and
> design is the issue and will be the gating factor as to whether people
> can/will switch.

Oh, I absolutely agree with you there on the "non-trivial".  And on top
of being "non-trivial", there are many designers, architects,
programmers, etc. that *will not* have the "ahh haa" experience and
continue to design procedural things instead of real objects.  It can be
demonstrated that learning a language is one thing (and sometimes
simple, BASIC and LOGO come to mind) but becoming *proficient* in that
language is, IMHO, *always* non-trivial.

However, languages, whatever languages, are more than *just* a tool. 
Changing languages helps change the way we think about a problem.  Just
try doing vector math in RPG.  PL/I, no problem.  COBOL, doable but
why?  C only (really) defines vectors, matrices are a figment...  you
know what I mean.

So, good.  We generate Java out the back end.  Good.  But we are still
thinking in terms of RPG when we sit down in front of RPG.

As far as the Rochester folks, you and I both know they got a product to

R. Bruce Hoffman, Jr. -- IBM Certified AS/400 Administrator

-- The sum of all human knowledge is a fixed constant.
    It's the population that keeps growing!
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