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Introducing V5R1

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With V5R1 of OS/400, which Buell Duncan, general manager of IBM’s MidMarket Server Division, has called “the biggest release ever,” IBM is staking the claim that OS/400 is here for the foreseeable future. At over 4 million lines of code, this release is indeed huge. But as important as the size or scope of the code is, it’s the new packaging and direction that IBM has unveiled for application development tools that excite me the most.

IBM took the toolset mentioned in my March 2001 letter (“From the Editor: Focusing on You”) and made it much easier to get than it had been in the past. In true IBM fashion, the company gave it a slightly different name—WebSphere Developer Studio (WDS)—but the tools are there, and, if you have Software Subscription, you can get them at no extra charge. WDS represents a new way of developing applications on the iSeries and AS/400. It gives you the toolset you need to move in an easy manner from the traditional green-screen environment to the client/server environment (including the Web), merging the benefits of both environments to give you the ability to create industrial- strength applications using a modern development environment. The tools are even available for V4R5, so the majority of people can use them without having to upgrade their operating system. This is very exciting news, indeed.

Add to that the ability of Operations Navigator to control 90 percent of the system, and you may never have to touch another green-screen again. And that’s just the way IBM would have it. We all know the 5250 interface is great for most business applications, but it’s not what sells systems in today’s market. IBM’s competitors, in the heat of the battle for the sale, trot out the OS/400 green-screens and try to make the iSeries out to be a “dated” computer. We all know OS/400 systems are not dated in terms of what they can do, but, then again, we’ve got AS/400 and iSeries machines in our shops, so we’re not the ones who need the education.

IBM has chosen the Web as its new interface, although OS/400 can sport almost any interface. The Web is where the majority of IBM’s software-development efforts are headed. With this new OS/400 release, there are more ways than ever to get to the Web, including a new Web-ified client (iSeries Access for Web, which is part of the Client Access Express family) and the new WebFacing Tool, which provides traditional OS/400 applications with a path to the Web. Many people argue that the Web interface is not good enough, but, as I’ve pointed out before, it’s the most universal client today, and it gets the job done. It may be the lowest common denominator, and you may want specialty interfaces for specific tasks not suited to the Web, but a Web interface is a safe bet because

it can be accessed from the most clients, and it can be used effectively to communicate information, which is what most people rely on computers for.

Midrange Computing is also here to communicate information, and, to communicate more efficiently, we’re making minor tweaks to our structure. Since e- business is virtually everywhere these days, we’ve expanded our E-business section to give you more nuts and bolts, more how-to, and more in-depth technology coverage. And since cross-platform issues permeate virtually everything we do these days, we’ve distributed the coverage from the Cross-platform section among the other sections. We have also created a special Web forum that concentrates on Domino (with emphasis on the iSeries) at http://forums.midrangecomputing.com. We’ll continue to have regular Domino features in the magazine, and, with a dedicated Web forum, our ability to cover Domino issues in detail will be greatly expanded. There are undoubtedly more changes in store for OS/400 and the iSeries as well for MC; as always, we’re very excited about the potential the future holds.

Brian Singleton
Brian Singleton is former editor of Midrange Computing. He has worked in the IBM midrange arena for many years, performing every job from backup operator to programmer to systems analyst to technology analyst for major corporations and IBM Business Partners. He also has an extensive background in the PC world. Brian also developed a line of bestselling Midrange Computing training videos, authored the bestselling i5/OS and Microsoft Office Integration Handbook, and has spoken at many popular seminars and conferences.

MC Press books written by Brian Singleton available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

i5/OS and Microsoft Office Integration Handbook i5/OS and Microsoft Office Integration Handbook
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