RPG beats out Java to support applicant screening shop

A Web-based company that does client screening for rental agencies and landlords built its whole shop from scratch, coding RPG natively on a System i.

A Web-based company that does client screening for rental agencies and landlords built its whole shop from scratch, exclusively writing native RPG code on a System i.

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By his own backing, Gary Glucroft, president of The Screening Pros, founded the southern California applicant screening company after 12 years in the business.

During that time, he culled the strengths of the industry trying to develop a leg-up on the competition. He claims the advantage he now holds lies within The Screening Pros' Web site, which features tools he says allow the site to run faster on the back end, secure sensitive information and run more thorough searches.

Aiming for "a completely objective rental decision," the primary tool, dubbed "The Qualifier," is customizable to help make decisions based on the analysis of a range of considerations, including applicants without credit trade lines or Social Security numbers; customizable tolerance levels regarding certain public records; discharged bankruptcies; medical and or educational collections; general credit delinquencies; earnings to rent ratios; eviction and landlord records; check writing data; and FICO credit scores, Glucroft said.

The system also keeps track of various statistics that provide reports allowing management companies to evaluate factors such as rent and income ratios, as well as marketing campaign effectiveness.

Both the Web application and back-end logic are written completely in i5/OS native ILE RPG, using Dayton, Ohio-based Profound Logic Software Inc.'s RPG Smart Pages development environment.

Glucroft discovered Profound Logic when it was mentioned in a Web article about Java vs. RPG, and said he's since learned to appreciate the security and durability of the System i.

RPG is the native programming language for the System i, and more easily creates Web applications in comparison to Java, according to David Russo, sales director for Profound Logic. On the AS/400, as opposed to being a native language, a problem with Java is how it doesn't actually run on the machine but via software on the platform, and as code is interpreted instead of compiled directly onto an iSeries, like RPG, everything runs faster, Russo said.

Charles King, principal analyst for Hayward, Calif.-based Pund-IT Research, acknowledged that closer code connection.

"I think the real strong suit of RPG is support of transactional processing and database access," King said. "It's helped System i to maintain its singular position in the midrange market for so long. Transactional processing and database access are the types of capabilities that are extremely strong on the mainframe. AS/400 is the mainframe for the midmarket."

Glucroft wished to remain mum on the topic of finance -- product costs, return on investment estimations and the like -- but the numbers are in the hundreds of thousands, funded out of pocket.

His data center consists essentially of a single System i, divided into three partitions and several Dell Inc. boxes for file servers.

Additional "Qualifier" tools include a graphical accounts receivable package that allows transactional bookkeeping and automatic account statement generation, including receiving and posting customer payments, as well as an online payment system. The application is also brandable, so resellers of The Screening Pros' services can modify the same system with their own colors, logos and messages.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Joe Spurr, News Writer

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