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LongEx Mainframe Quarterly - Aug 2022


Integrated Development Environments (IDEs)

The idea of having a GUI screen to make application development isn't new. However, recently there have been more options available to z/OS sites: from vendor products like IBM Developer for z/OS (IDz)and BMC Compuware Topaz, to open source options like Zowe Explorer and Eclipse Che4z.

But what exactly do these IDEs give us? Are they really a good idea, or just the latest fad? And how easy are they to get up and running? These are some of the questions we'll try and answer in this edition.

In our management article, we take a step back, and look at the more common features we'd expect from our local IDE.

In our technical article, we look at the steps needed to get an IDE up and running: there may be more things to think of than your realise.

Finally, in our opinion article David Stephens argues that in a world where experienced mainframe talent is hard to find, it makes sense that everyone use an IDE.

We hope you enjoy this issue.

management: What Can We Get from IDEs?

If you're as old as me, the chances are that you still code using the standard ISPF 3270 screen. The biggest change in the past 20 years has probably been the HILITE feature that can colour code source like JCL and COBOL.

But if you're just starting with z/OS, you'll probably look at those veterans using a 3270 screen, and think "what are they doing?" You'll be used to sophisticated GUI based development environments, or Integrated Development Environments (IDEs).

So, what advantages do IDEs give us, and do they really matter?


technical: IDEs: Some Assembly Required

At one client, they had two different Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) installed: neither had any significant usage. At another, they had an IDE installed: an old version no longer supported. A third client explained that they had an IDE, but were having difficulties getting it running.

IDEs are great. They offer everything from real-time syntax checking and colour coded editing screens to features for dataset and job management. More importantly, they offer productivity benefits, and can make it easier for new staff to become useful faster.

But as these clients found out, IDEs aren't necessarily easy to get running. In this article, we're going to look at possible reasons why.


opinion: Everyone Should Use an IDE: Everyone

Most sites I work with have an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) like IDz, Compuware Topaz, or Zowe Explorer. And this is good news: those sites are able to leverage the benefits of their IDE. But for most of these sites, there's also bad news: few staff actually use this IDE. Most continue to use ISPF, and I see this as a problem.



LongEx Quarterly is a quarterly eZine produced by Longpela Expertise. It provides System z Mainframe and z/OS related articles for management and technical experts. It is published every November, February, May and August.

The opinions in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of any other person or organisation. All trademarks, trade names, service marks and logos referenced in these articles belong to their respective companies.

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