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Web-enabling apps easier with new WebSphere Studio Development Client

WebFacing and PCML wizards and tutorials smooth process for Web-enabling and calling RPG and COBOL programs.

If you have not ventured into the world of Java and WebSphere, IBM has removed any and all reasons that may have prevented you from doing so.

On June 4 IBM announced the WebSphere Studio Development Client (WSDC) for iSeries. I have had the privilege of using this product prior to its release and working with the developers who have created this amazing suite of products.

The tool set is free if you have a software subscription on any existing iSeries development tools, PDM, or compilers. The bundle includes CODE/400 and the new ECLIPSE based LPEX editor for RPG, COBOL and CL, so you have a good reason to use this client-based suite of products even without exploring Java.

From the Java perspective, the Open Source ECLIPSE base provides a comprehensive Java Development Kit (JDK), including code editors and debuggers. IBM extended that code to include support for the iSeries Java toolkit. The basic Java development environment is packaged in all of the WebSphere Studio tool packages from IBM, but what I want to focus on is WebFacing and PCML support.

WebFacing uses the DDS screen files for your RPG and COBOL 5250-based programs and provides a wizard that guides you through the steps of importing the DDS source, analyzing the contents and generating Java Servlets and JSPs to Web-enable your applications.

A step-by-step tutorial with a sample library guides you through the process, helping you test your results and insure you understand the process is provided. One beta tester reports converting 18,000 programs with three people in 60 days! Their entire system was Web-enabled.

The toolset also provides all of the tools necessary to create a WAR file and publish the application to WebSphere.

The iSeries Java Toolkit has included a facility called PCML that enables Java to call RPG programs by creating an XML file containing definitions to map RPG or COBOL parameters to Java and support the CALL. Some users have found the manual steps necessary to implement this support somewhat confusing and difficult. Well, worry no more. The WSDC includes a wizard that guides you through the process and generates a Java bean that will call your RPG program for you. The beauty of this PCML facility is the fact that your Java programs and RPG or COBOL programs may exist on the same or different machines.

With the WSDC you, upon creating your Java bean, use the Web Design tools embedded in the product to create Web pages via the HTML/JSP GUI editor. Many folks are writing RPG programs for back-end business rules processing and using Java servlets and JSPs to create the user interface, with the wizard-generated PCML-based Java bean providing the interface.

The WSDC is free if you own and have a software subscription for any iSeries development tools. It replaces the previous WDT toolset and start shipping after June 14, 2002.

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About the author: Bob Cancilla is managing director of IGNITe/400, an electronic iSeries 400 Internet users group. He is also author of the book Getting Down to e-business with AS/400.

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