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: https://ileditor.online/

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.  

Closing

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.

Older IBM i administration tools are gradually being superseded by Access Client Solutions (ACS), a Java application that runs on all major consumer operating systems, including the Apple Mac. ACS is rapidly gaining functionality, offering unique features such as Insert SQL by Example. To encourage Mac users to adopt this powerful application, I have written installation instructions that work well for me as of today (April 2018).

For background on ACS, see IBM Support’s Access Client Solutions page (current as of this writing, but if the link should ever break, search for “IBM ACS” to find an updated page.)

To begin your installation,  go to the Access Client Solutions “Download” page.

Log In with Your IBM ID and password.

Agree to the license.

Choose your download Method.

Using Download Director:

Or using http, select files individually:

Open the QuickStart guide and follow the instructions for installation on MAC

1 Unzip the application zip file.

2 Go into the unzipped folder.

3 Run the installer, install_acs.

If you get the “can’t be opened” message as shown above , instead of double clicking the icon, right click and you should get an “unidentified developer” message as shown below. Click “Open.”

4. A terminal window will open. Ignore this terminal window. Next, if this a new installation, you should see several yes/no boxes that will help you set up your initial environment. If this is an update rather than a new installation, your previous settings will be preserved.

5. When all of the questions are answered, you should see the “finished” message box.

6. You will find a new application in the Applications folder:

Incidentally, an IBM folder will now exist under your user profile. Your user preferences for ACS will automatically be stored in subfolders under this IBM folder.

7. You can close the terminal window now.

Starting instructions are on the QuickStartGuide as well.

Use Finder>Applications to locate the IBM Access Client Solutions app and double click it:

You may encounter this “unidentified developer” message:

Instead of double clicking it, Right click the icon and choose Open:

Now the ACS program should start. You can verify the version and the Java home path by clicking Help and About.

The installation is complete. You can add your system definitions and emulation environments now.

The Help menu also contains an option to check for updates. It only checks for updates but does not install them. If you want to update to a newer version that the check tells you about, you have go through most of the same steps as the install.

This install was performed on a Macbook Pro macOS High Sierra. I have used the same instructions to install on earlier macOS versions.  The messages may appear slightly different depending on the operating system and security settings you are using.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions about installing ACS on your Mac.