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Warp Speed Modernization with JavaScript and APIs

“I feel like I have been working with hand tools and somebody just gave me a power saw and drill.” That’s how a customer described to me his experience of building web services and APIs in JavaScript for his IBM i applications. “Don’t get me wrong”, he said, “I still love RPG and we will continue to use it for our core applications but JavaScript opens a whole new world of Open Source and pre-built components for us.”

This company needed to connect their IBM i applications to Amazon Web Services. Originally, they looked at building the connections in RPG. But then they saw that there were literally hundreds of pre-built components for connecting to Amazon Web Services already built in JavaScript – many of which were written and maintained by Amazon.

“At first I was concerned that I would need to learn some JavaScript to use the Open Source modules”, he told me. “So I signed up for pluralsight (www.pluralsight.com) and spent a couple days learning the basics of the language.”  “I was amazed at how easy it was. Anybody who has mastered RPG, which is a highly sophisticated language built over decades, should have no trouble picking up JavaScript.” The customer then installed Eradani Connect to handle the connections between the IBM i and JavaScript.

“All we had to do was write a couple lines of RPG to pass the information to Eradani Connect and a couple lines of JavaScript to call the Amazon modules. Everything else was automatic. And because we are using the Amazon modules for calling the services, we don’t have to worry about changes Amazon is making to the services – they take care of that for us. Each day I use JavaScript, I discover new possibilities and become better at using it.”

“Using JavaScript and Eradani Connect reduced a project we had scoped out as taking several months to just a few days. We are now looking at a lot of other APIs we can call. We want to hook our order entry system up to our Salesforce application, we want to print shipping labels and we need to track shipments. Just like with Amazon, there are pre-built components for doing these things.”

I’m sharing this story because I have seen so many customers who are missing out on the tremendous benefits of adding JavaScript APIs to their IBM i applications because they are worried about the difficulty of learning a new language. As this customer said, if you can master RPG, you certainly can learn a much simpler language like JavaScript. Once you do, you’ll be able to take advantage of the work of the millions of JavaScript developers that are creating Open Source modules and making them available for free.

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