Over my head

It has been a long time since my last post. My blog has obviously not been the biggest blip on my radar, but things keep happening, and I say, “I ought to write about that.” So here goes:

The biggest thing was my attempt to write a system to handle financial transactions using sockets over the Internet. RPG was not the language finally chosen; you can do sockets programming in RPG, but much of the problem involved continuing to handle processing while we did nightly batch processing and system saves.

The language I finally chose was Object Pascal. Not a bad choice, but it finally became apparent that I was much too used to doing file processing in RPG; sometimes you have to jump through hoops in other languages that you take for granted in RPG.

The project itself contains extremely intricate data processing. After a while (over a year) of hammering at it, and having a few minor successes and many major roadblocks, I finally threw in the towel. I suggested using ASNA’s visual RPG, but it seems that the process is being passed off to another programmer more familiar with network programming. I continue to believe that the process could done more cleanly by buying a package, but for some reason there is an aversion at our company to that - they prefer home-grown. At any rate, I am glad it is out of my hands. I never felt more inadequate as a programmer than when I was trying to make this process work. I was willing to keep on trying, but I would not have been able to make any promise as to when it would be done.

As always, I promise to try to write more. Hopefully, this will break the ice.

2 Responses to “Over my head”

  1. Buck Says:

    Nice to hear from you again!

    It’s a new world for us RPG programmers. There’s hardly anything that’s best handled by RPG alone. Multiple languages are now a given for almost every modern project. Along with multiple languages often come multiple hardware platforms. I’d love to read more about this project - was the plan to completely offload what used to be done in RPG to Pascal? What provisions were there to back up / upgrade the Pascal platform?

  2. Curtis Barron Says:

    Actually, it was brand new functionality. I can’t go into too much detail about the project, but it involved bringing in-house a function currently being done for us by an outside vendor. An RPG package is available for the function, and that would have been much easier, but management did not want to spend the money when they have an in-house staff. (Also, the system would not be available during our nightly processing or system saves, and we wanted 24/7 up-time.) I know the IBM i system, so I was selected. A PC server would be used to collect data from the Internet and make processing decisions; the PC would converse with and exchange data with the IBM i. Java was available for the PC programming, but from my past experience, I felt it had too steep a learning curve, so I picked Object Pascal. (You may remember from earlier posts a preference for Niklaus Wirthian languages like Pascal and Oberon).
    Unfortunately, it seems like most data file interactions outside of RPG or COBOL require SQL, which added a layer of complexity to the process for me. And while I generally understood socket concepts, actually working with them, and the Internet, created a huge mental block for me, and every minor difficulty became a massive one. I finally asked for help, and they finally transferred the job to another employee who is comfortable with and familiar with Java, sockets, network programming, and the Internet. He seems to be getting along well with it. Network tasks are now thoroughly in the lap of a network programmer and an experienced network administrator.

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