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System i Web app dev for free

One System i user responds to IBM's shrinking sales on the platform and points to a free application development tools-type of model that could help System i boost sales.

The following is one System i user's response to the recent news of the IBM platform's shrinking sales. The argument...

is essentially that if IBM offers the tools for free, people will use the platform. You can always send us comments if you'd like to share your opinions.


I just read a few articles about iSeries revenue going south and I was inspired to write.

I've been programming on the system 3x/400 since 1983 almost exclusively in RPG (RPGII, RPGIII, RPG400, RPG-LE). I've done AFP and bar coding. I've converted spooled files to PDFs, sent email, used the IFS, generated HTML, Javascript and XML. I've built EDI systems, interfaced with telephone switches, bar code readers and PCs. And I've done it all in RPG.

IBM, the 400 and RPG have come a long way.

More on application development:
Free form RPG: Are you /FREE?

How does RPG talk to a browser?

Java for RPG and COBOL Programmers on iSeries Student Workbook

Then something struck me. My 16-year-old daughter downloaded a free Web page development application. My son uses a free SDK to modify his video games (Oblivion, Morrowind, etc.) I've looked into developing a Web-enabled .NET application, and guess what? The development software is free. Even the Java SDK is free.

Today (for free) you can download Linux, Apache, My Sql, and PHP and create your own Web application server to develop Web apps on -- complete with an SQL database.

CFGIDEV2 inhibited WebSphere from taking over the iSeries not because it was a superior product, but because it was free. Developers love free. I go to the Web every day to figure out if there is an API to do this or a procedure to do that -- all for free.

How can the iSeries compete with free? I've never seen an "Ask IBM technicians for Free" blog. Sure, the Redbooks have been free for a few years (thankfully and finally). But IBM has not incorporated free into the System i marketing plan.

I remember wanting to start my own software business 15 years ago. I even got my hands on a used AS/400 (D35). Unfortunately, I didn't have the $5000 for the developer tools and the additional $3000 for the operating system. No matter how good you are, you can't beat free. Now that OpenOffice.org is out, even Microsoft is feeling revenue shrinkage.

Why the (censored) would a company charge developers to develop software that can only run on the company's hardware? That's just stupid. Give the development tools away for free! That's the only way to increase application sales, and application sales are the only way to increase hardware sales.

That's my two cents.

T.G.

This was last published in October 2007

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