ILEditor: A Low-Overhead Companion to RDi

Plus a Sneak Peek at Plans for ILEditor 2

When I first started in the IBM i industry, I was lucky enough to skip over SEU and jump right onto the Rational Developer for i (RDi) bandwagon. My interest in IBM i may have died off very quickly if SEU was the first thing I had used.

As much as I loved RDi, I had some issues with it. One of the biggest problems was slow adoption based on pricing. While many shops use RDi, a large handful still do not.

As someone who has used mostly open source tools (including open source IDEs), I was kind of sad that there wasn’t a free/open source alternative — this was my chance to give something back to the IBM i community.

I started the ILEditor open source project in September 2017. Not only has working on an open source, graphical IDE been good for me, it’s also giving people a way to start writing/maintaining RPG at no cost.

ILEditor is steadily building up a community of users. I am constantly receiving emails about how things work and new features that should be added. As more people use ILEditor, reviews are being created by users, conference appearances grow, and it has even earned a few pages in a book. It’s slowly gaining traction — and as the community around it grows, the features will also grow.

Current ILEditor Functionality

Right now, ILEditor has everything you need to start/continue writing your RPG, COBOL or C/C++:

  • Syntax highlight for all ILE languages (including CL!).
  • Source member browsing & IFS browsing.
  • Inline compiling & error listing.
  • Easily customisable compile commands.
  • Inline to-do listings.
  • Not CPU intensive.
  • The list goes on…

Two key things I set out to accomplish when creating ILEditor — speed & low memory usage — have already been achieved. Compiles (with error listings shown) take less than two seconds every time — there is no time wasted! Low memory, non-CPU intensive and fast startup times too. All these things combined means quicker responses from the editor, which means the user is more productive because they’re not slowed down while waiting for things.

For a independent review of ILEditor’s functionality, read Scott Klement’s review of ILEditor from February 2018.

Recent enhancements to ILEditor

Recently, ILEditor enhancements have focused on the code. A key point to ILEditor development is that the code has to be easy to maintain. We need to make it easy for the developers, not just the users.

The most noticeable change for users lately has been an update to the UI, specifically the redesign of Light Mode. All the icons are now a simple blue and the blue theme has been replaced with white to make the UI look less bloated.

ILEditor is currently at its most stable (at version 1.6.2). Like all young software tools, one or two pressing bugs need to be fixed, but overall it’s looking good.

What’s next?

There is a lot on my mind for what is going to come next. In terms of the editor, there are two major topics on my mind right now:

  • ILEditor for macOS/Linux
  • How to support ILEditor long term

ILEditor 2

I don’t want to excite the Mac community, but ILEditor for macOS/Linux is being worked on. I am giving no ETAs or ideas of what is and isn’t working, but it is coming. Not only is it going to have macOS support, but it also going to be a complete rewrite from scratch. This means ILEditor for Windows, macOS and Linux will all share the same functionality and UI. This will be versioned as ILEditor 2 (as the current version is 1.6.2).

You can expect a formal announcement at the CIO Summit & RPG/Db2 Summit this October 2018. You can also check out the landing page and sign up for the announcement here:

The Importance of the ILEditor Community

ILEditor is open source software. That means that you have access not only to the code, but also to the community around it.

One of the biggest hurdles for ILEditor at the moment is consolidating community discussions into one place. Right now, everything is very spread out – some discussion on mailing boards, some the GitHub issues, and mostly emails. It would be more efficient if we were all talking in the same place to make sure we take into account everyone’s thoughts.

This means creating a place where people can come and talk. What do you think would work best?

  • A forum,
  • Slack workplace (my preferred option),
  • Gitter channel,
  • Anything better we can think of!

Send me your ideas and opinions at ileditor[at]worksofbarry[dot]com.  


That’s ILEditor summed up! My goals for the end of the year are the CODECOV implementation and building the community around the tool. If you have any ideas or feedback for ILEditor, make sure you check out the website and GitHub repository, and reach out to me on Twitter.

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