WebSmart PHP Ranked Second in MCPress Online's Power i Forecast
This is an excerpt from Chris Smith's Power i Forecast, which highlights the top 10 development tools for RPG programmers.
One of the most popular tools for RPG programmers in the new millennium is WebSmart PHP from Business Computer Design International (BCD). Yes, Zend Studio 9 is a very fine and popular tool too, and there are a gazillion free PHP development tools out there. But how many of these give you all the DB2/400 and MySQL application templates and wizards that WebSmart PHP does - and the great BCD support? And how many of them are designed for RPG programmers? Yes, we're talking about multi-platform Web applications here; otherwise, we would be mouthing about WebSmart ILE, which is ILE CGI based and helps get those legacy RPG applications out onto the Web.
Now you can do amazing things with PHP applications - look at Facebook - so learning to create apps in PHP doesn't mean that you are limited to Web applications, but if you already know RPG, you're probably going to use that for heavy lifting. Unless of course you want to run your application on Linux, UNIX, or Windows - hello! WebSmart PHP also comes with IBM i-centric PHP extensions that help you leverage your existing RPG code as well as skills.
It is not just a tool, by the way; WebSmart PHP is a complete IDE with PHP syntax-checking, prompting, and organization of more than 5,000 PHP functions. It also includes a visual HTML editor and built-in Model-View-Controller (MVC) that separates HTML from PHP. It comes with its own database repository for defining your business and presentation rules at the file level. If you're a BCD customer already, you will like the fact that it uses the same IDE as WebSmart ILE and Clover Query, so now you're getting up to speed faster. Once you've finished building a collection of PHP apps with WebSmart, you'll want to package them up for the users. Voila! WebSmart comes with a free copy of Nexus Portal (maintenance required) that provides a secure deployment framework for your PHP applications, including a dynamic menu system with drop-down menus and menu trees. It also has a secure log-in feature.
If all you want is Web-enablement of your legacy applications, then BCD Presto is doing some truly amazing things with refacing these days, allowing extensive GUI customizations and even calling newly written application extensions for enhanced program functionality.
Today's tools are getting so sophisticated that business users with no programming experience can easily develop robust applications.
The importance of tools to the IBM i community can't be underestimated, but they, like restaurants, come into and go out of favor depending on what clients need and what they are asking developers to do at the moment. Is it a Y2K challenge this month, or must you Web-enable a green-screen legacy program for which you don't have the source code? Most developers use a variety of tools for different tasks, mixing and matching depending on project requirements. At last count, there were some 80 tools available to developers to modernize or build new applications on IBM i.
So how did we ever come up with the top 10 development tools? What criteria did we use to determine which would make the top 10 list, and which ones would fall into the "others" category? I would like to say that the ones we picked were the most widely used or most popular and that we surveyed every developer in the midrange space and carefully tabulated who was using which tools - how many were using tool A versus tool B, etc. A noble effort indeed, but if I had such a list of all the developers in the world writing code for Power Systems, I would surely be a person revered and sought after by frenzied tool vendors eager to make another sale. Alas, I do not have such a list. The fact is, even the tool vendors don't know how many people are using their tools - or how many bought it and left it in the box after it arrived because it didn't do what they needed. Not all tool vendors who are giving away free versions of their tools are even asking people to register before downloading them. It's a jungle out there!...