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ILEditor Comes Out Swinging for Round Two

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Liam Allan is building on the success of his lightweight IDE with ILEditor 2.

Earlier this year, I did a feature article on an open-source project called ILEditor by IBM Champion and Fresh Face of IBM i Liam Allan. ILEditor’s design concept was simple: a lightweight IDE for IBM i application development. But, while lightweight, it hit far above its weight class in terms of speed and features. Updating it with new features took literally seconds. Requests for enhancements were done incredibly quickly. I’m not much of a developer these days, but even I was able to acquire a very quick time-to-value in which I could install ILEditor, open a source member, make a change, and then compile within minutes. So simple that even I could use it. Quick and easy.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a note from Liam asking if I wanted to discuss what’s coming up in the newest release of ILEditor. Knowing that Liam is now an independent developer with perhaps some extra time to focus on this project, I jumped on a Skype call and had a conversation with Liam about the new direction for ILEditor, now called ILEditor 2. The interesting thing is that while the original version of ILEditor was open source and zero cost (and will remain that way), ILEditor 2 will be a pay-for product that offers customers and users a different set of benefits, most notably a dedicated focus from its developers.

Steve Pitcher: Liam, now that it's a pay-for product, what does that mean for the open-source version? I’m assuming the open-source project is not kaput, right?

Liam Allan: No. The open-source version will not be kaput. The free, open-source version will remain free. While it will receive bug fixes, it will no longer get larger features unless they come in through a PR [pull-request]. All new development for the future of the product is being directed to ILEDITOR 2. The open-source version really shed light on what could be an awesome alternative IDE to Rational Developer for i. While it does have problems (Windows-only support, SRCDAT not retaining), we are removing these drawbacks in ILEDITOR 2. There may be a time in a year or so where the automatic updates stop happening and will instead require a manual download from the GitHub repository.

SP: The update time on the open-source version was really fast. Will ILEditor 2 be simpler to upgrade than the old one, or is it a completely different code stream?

LA: ILEDITOR 2 will not be an upgrade over the previous version, but instead be installed alongside it as a successor. They will be two separate applications. This new installation will not affect the open-source version of ILEditor.

SP: Now that it’s a pay-for product, or rather it’s really a brand-new product inspired by the former, how much is it going to cost?

LA: We are aiming for a yearly license instead of a buy-out license. Our price range is going to be a lot less than what people are expecting to pay. While we can’t go into too much detail about specific costs, we can say that there will be trial keys, student discounts, and bulk discounts. There will be a basic support license included with any purchase, but we may offer out-of-hours support as a separate package.

SP: My initial thoughts as a reseller is, can vendors resell it? There are some benefits to get additional exposure for your product that way.

LA: Right now, that’s a no…but only because we haven’t released it yet. While not the same question, we plan to add plugin support (it’s on our long-term roadmap) so vendors can write extensions for ILEDITOR.

SP: So the ability to write extensions is one thing that’s new, or at least will be long-term. What's currently available in the new version?

LA: Two of the biggest enhancements in the new version are easily the cross-platform support (as in Windows and Mac OS) and the SRCDAT column being retained on members. Mac OS support has been one of the most-requested things for the open-source version of ILEditor, but I was running in circles. It was generally easier to have a rewrite in a solution that works on all platforms. Then, of course, actually retaining the value of SRCDAT. There was a large discussion on the ILEditor GitHub bug tracker about saving this value, but it was never done. As soon as development for ILEDITOR 2 was started, we made sure it was top priority for this version, and good news: it’s already done and working.

SP: Awesome.

LA: Outside of that, the nice part about our development style is that we can make releases really easy. Unlike the alternative IDEs, updates will likely be automatic and not time-consuming. The open-source edition of ILEditor was about 3 MB in size and took only a few seconds to update, and we’d like that to stay the same.

SP: OK, so tell me some of the things you have coming down the pike. What should we expect to see in the near future?

LA: We plan to add things like:

  • RPG fixed-to-free (it’s already much better than what was removed from ILEditor)
  • Outline views for C, COBOL, RPG, and CL
  • Object reference diagrams

SP: Do you have a link to the long-term roadmap?

LA: Yes. Right here. It’s a living document.

SP: We’ve had some talk since you’ve gone into business for yourself. How’s it coming along?

LA: Good. We (myself along with my partner) are in business to focus on this product. That’s what we’re concentrating on. What we are doing is not only a complete change from the original ILEditor, but a complete rewrite. It's going to have a whole new look and feel.

The original ILEditor boasts over 1,000 users. ILEditor 2 is building on the original success. While not released just yet, you can head to https://ileditor.online/ and enter your email address to get updates on the forthcoming release in 2018.

Steve Pitcher
Steve Pitcher works with iTech Solutions, an IBM Premier Business Partner. He is a specialist in IBM i and IBM Power Systems solutions since 2001. Feel free to contact him directly This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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