Evaluate Weigh the pros and cons of technologies, products and projects you are considering.

Opinion: Third-party tools better for Web development beginners

After five years of not getting it right with WebSphere development for SMBs, it is time most iSeries sites look to more integrated and easier-to-use Web technology tools.

Mr. Mason you're an expert in WebSphere and a very knowledgeable person. Unfortunately, I have to disagree with you on your premise that WebSphere is a good choice for beginners and add that the same goes for most RPG people in the iSeries space for several reasons.

  1. The incredibly long WebSphere development learning curve.
  2. The unwillingness of most iSeries developers to invest in the steep Java and WebSphere learning curve.
  3. The significant expense of time and money an organization must make if they were to allow their staff to learn Java and WebSphere.
  4. The significant resources needed to install and run WebSphere on an iSeries-i5-AS/400 (typically 500 CPW and often 1,000 CPW, plus 1 GB of storage and more often 2 GB).
  5. IBM's recent announcements that encourage iSeries shops to work with third-party development tools.
  6. IBM's WebSphere Software Group Vice President Tom Inman's not-so-positive comments on WebSphere during a COMMON open forum.

IBM made a global announcement in March with its iSeries Initiative for Innovation campaign, encouraging both partners and clients to work with the iSeries Developer Roadmap development tools.

After five years of WebSphere being on the market, the number of small and midsize businesses (SMB) developing iSeries Web applications with it has been quite disappointing.

I invite you to read what Inman said during an open forum at COMMON. This was reported in The Four Hundred, Vol. 13-43, by Alex Woodie.

During that COMMON conference "Sound Off" an iSeries WebSphere user asked Inman why IBM had not acted upon making WebSphere simple and easy to use.

Here is part of Inman's reply: "The first step to recovery, in my opinion, is to recognize you have a problem. We have a problem. [WebSphere] It's too complex, number one, and, secondly, we're not integrated with [iSeries]."

Developing Web applications with WebSphere has achieved a low rate of acceptance in the iSeries-i5-AS/400 community and in my opinion is one of the reasons for IBM's iSeries Initiative for Innovation and for the company's investing significant resources to encourage customers, business partners, consultants and ISVs to also work with third-party development tools.

The incredible learning curve of Java and WebSphere, the significant system resources needed for WebSphere and the costs to manage a WebSphere environment IMO are why most SMB iSeries-AS/400 developers, especially entry-level developers, should not begin developing with WebShpere and need to look at other iSeries Developer Roadmap Web development tools.

In a Search400.com article, "Learn Web development in five easy and free steps," it was noted that it would take: 20 1/4 months to 31 months to gain basic capabilities and 48.5 to 70.5 months to become highly productive following one such path that included WebSphere.

If you follow this article for Web Development with WebSphere you would have to learn: Java Basics - WebSphere Studio WSAD or WSDc - OO Architect - Servlets / JSP - SQL. The amount of time needed to learn this recommendation would be: 20 to 70 months. What's so easy and free about investing 20 to 70 months? In my opinion this article could have been easily named, "Are you kidding me? Are you really kidding me?!"

Mr. Mason, there are several successful alternatives available for beginners and knowledgeable RPG and iSeries developers who have not moved their applications to the Web that are faster and easier to learn and implement. We all too often talk with iSeries people who have spent months trying to get WebSphere development off the ground only to shake their heads and think there is something wrong with them and wonder why they are not getting it. The fact is there is nothing wrong with them; the problem is what is being offered is simply too complex with too many hoops to be jumped through to get even basic let alone sophisticated applications developed with that method.

Technology needs to become easier as time moves on, not more difficult. Technology needs to be something that one can install and begin developing in the first day, not in months, to build solutions. It should be something they can master themselves without having to spend very large amounts of money just to get going. After five years of not getting it right with WebSphere development for SMBs in this space, it is high time most iSeries-AS/400 sites look towards more successful, integrated and easier-to-use iSeries Web technology tools to get the job done.

The iSeries community would be well served to investigate proven third-party iSeries development tools listed in IBM's iSeries Developer Roadmap and see for themselves what thousands of SMBs and large iSeries-i5 organizations have already discovered and that is technology they understand.

Eric F. Figura, director of sales
Business Computer Design Int'l Inc.

Dig Deeper on Web Tools

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.