Nothing wrong with older, but reliable, technologies

E-business buzzwords making you bristle? "Bleeding-edge" programmers got you boiling? If you think RPG isn't as dead as Latin, you're not alone. Greg Bohannon, an independent AS/400 consultant, e-mailed Search400.com last week after reading our Q&A with recruiter Ed Baldwin.

Bohannon took exception to Baldwin's suggestion that RPG programmers who refuse to learn new languages are obsolete. "I am not some dinosaur ready to retire in five years," Bohannon wrote. "I just don't buy the assertion that you need to learn a new technology every two years."

Programmers who back untested technologies hurt both their organizations and their chances for advancement, he said. "You may see technologies that look like fun," Bohannon said in a subsequent interview, "but you shouldn't use them to reinvent the wheel. Most companies can't function under those conditions."

Bohannon concedes that RPG was never intended for life beyond the green screen, "but it will always be a good transaction-based reporting system," he said. In the past, he refused to jump on what he calls the "C++ bandwagon" because he thought it could corrupt the OS/400 operating system too easily. "C++ is fine if you're on a desktop," Bohannon said, "but when you have 100 customer-service people connected to an AS/400, you need a run-'til-it-drops language like RPG."

But Bohannon is not solely invested in RPG. He applauds IBM's support for Linux, and he likes Java, HTML and XML. "Of course, you don't wait for the dust to settle COMPLETELY on a new technology before you check it out," he says.

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Baard is a contributing editor in Milton, Mass.


This was first published in November 2000

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