Unlock Your RPG Applications to Enable Modern Online Experiences

By Dan Magid

What programming languages or frameworks do you think of when you hear web development? Probably JavaScript; maybe PHP or Python. But RPG? Not likely.

Nonetheless, for those who rely on longstanding IBM i systems to support their mission-critical operations, accessing current RPG applications is a necessity for powering fully functional, modern mobile applications. Of course, you might ask how a 60-year-old programming language could possibly handle the demands of modern online interactions.

RPG wasn’t originally built to power the web, but believe it or not, it may just be your fastest, most cost-effective option. With technological advances, it’s not always about what something was decades ago, but rather what it can do for you today.

In fact, RPG-based applications are being repurposed in ways their original developers could not have imagined, with amazing results. There is a significant amount of domain knowledge about the unique way your company does business built into your RPG applications. With the rise of the API economy, developers need that functionality for web, mobile and other applications. While RPG itself was not built with the web in mind, evolutionary technology has turned RPG into a web powerhouse, enabling the creation of web and mobile UIs—and even completely reengineered workflows—using the capabilities of existing RPG applications. And, RPG programs can call APIs from virtually any other application. Now, RPG code from 40 years ago underpins some of the most innovative applications you’ll see for call center and customer self-service applications, for example.

But why go this route when you could replace your old applications with pre-packaged or custom alternatives? The answer is that building upon what you already have—your venerable RPG applications— is faster, lower risk and significantly less expensive than replacing an entire system. Remember that those applications often have decades of business rules that must be replicated by any new system you buy or build from scratch, and that the TCO of your IBM i is on average about 1/3 of the most popular web and mobile platforms.* By keeping the back-end RPG application in place and using APIs or modern UIs, businesses can deliver renewed value from their current investments while still offering the kinds of features and experiences employees and customers need.


* Quark + Lepton, 2017 Study

Guest Blogger

Daniel Magid is Managing Director of Rocket Software’s Application Lifecycle Management & DevOps lab, and is a recognized authority on helping leading organizations achieve compliance through ALM solutions and DevOps best practices. He has written a variety of articles for leading IT publications and is a regular speaker at technology conferences.

The Role of IT in the Retail Industry – Adapting to Trends

IT has a substantial role to play in the modern retail industry. This has been the case for a long time. However, the world of information technology changes quickly enough that individuals working in retail have had to adapt to various trends.

Mobile Apps for Retail Stores

Many experts today are now urging all retailers to create apps that specifically pertain to their products and even their store locations themselves. This is one of the biggest trends with regards to IT in the retail industry. All of these apps are incredibly different, however.

RetailSome makeup stores will offer apps that enable users to test products in advance in a whole new way. Some of the apps will offer customers convenient discounts right at their fingertips.

People can use apps in order to get a sense of where different items are located and whether or not they’re currently available. As such, there are apps that will truly help people overcome some of the most frustrating parts of shopping in the first place.

Cloud Computing in Retail

Thanks to cloud computing, it is much easier for retailers to consistently monitor their inventory. They can quickly get a sense of what they have in stock and what’s going on with orders. Losing large amounts of data is much less likely in the era of cloud computing. While this makes the technical side of the equation easier, it also means that retail workers can place more emphasis on customer service.

IT helps improve efficiency in the retail industry. The retail industry may also be able to fulfill more of its primary objectives thanks to modern information technology trends.

IT Breaking Further into the Retail Industry

Purchasing Technology

With increasingly mobile companies, there is a greater need for technology that works for various areas. The following are some of the areas where technology is arising within small and large businesses alike:

  • Checkout – This is probably one of the most obvious as mobile card readers are now able to plug right into a headphone jack on a mobile device or even sync remotely with Bluetooth. Even product selection on-screen has become simpler, making this a preferred option to even regular registers.
  • Customer Tracking – Many checkout services also include options to add customer information for later billing or rewards programs. As a business grows, it works to retain customers and build a strong community of regulars. Easily integrated rewards programs are appealing to both the business and the customer.
  • Inventory/Ordering – After proceeding to checkout a customer, businesses with actual products need a means of tracking what they have used or sold and what they need to restock. Having one device to meet a company’s needs not only simplifies, it saves time and money where multiple platforms were previously required.
  • Budgets – Having everything run through one device makes it easier to work on company spreadsheets and track every penny in and out. With a business, the last thing anyone wants to worry about is why the numbers aren’t adding up. Anything that needs printing can also be done via wireless printing.
  • Human Resources – When a company reaches the point of needing more than one employee, the same device is able to schedule and track hours. Even plugging in sick or vacation days is a breeze.

With the ease of using mobile devices, some fear that they could “lose everything” if the device is lost or destroyed. This can be put to rest with the ability to back up the device. One of the more popular options is to use a cloud database because of the accessibility from almost anywhere.