Rational Developer for System z (RDz), IBM’s z/OS Eclipse-based Integrated Development Environment (IDE), has been in widespread use for seven years. In that time, it’s simplified and improved the professional lives of z/OS programmers doing traditional application maintenance and enterprise modernization. It has made developers more productive and saved their companies a lot of money.

It did all that by streamlining and refactoring arcane z/OS development processes into structured, efficient analysis, editing and testing operations, sustained by modern Graphical User Interface (GUI) tools (Eclipse), wizards, and menus—perfect for those new to the mainframe.

RDz has also empowered veteran Time Share Option (TSO) developers through faithful Interactive System Productivity Facility (ISPF) emulation and exceptional tooling for tough, every day z/OS software maintenance and support tasks such as data flow analysis, control flow analysis, etc. Through its powerful, yet simple GUI tools, RDz has refurbished the skillsets of veteran TSO developers, growing them into effective, contributing project staff for today’s leading-edge application requirements such as Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), Java 2 Enterprise Edition Component Architecture, Unified Modeling Language, etc.

In release after release, by complementing your trusted, reliable z/OS technologies and integrating best practices into your development, RDz has delivered incremental yet sizable benefits. It has even addressed more challenging data-file and database offloading, often such a time-consuming, complex, and daunting premise that it simply isn’t practical.

What makes RDz the preferred IDE for z/OS enterprise computing? Either you already know because you use RDz, or you’re probably glued to the same TSO/ISPF green-screen development facility that past generations used for PL/I, COBOL, and Assembler work. Back in the ’70s, ISPF tools were state of the art. It certainly is a testimony to their quality and relevance (and longevity) that they’re still adequate for many of today’s tasks. However, the problem is that adequate is, well, no longer adequate.

Today’s business climate demands tools that provide functionality and coverage for modern requirements such as wizards for developing XML parsing routines, for developing and testing Web services and stored procedures, etc. It’s even more critical now that software tools do the best possible job of shortening the maintenance, support, and development lifecycles by eliminating routine tasks, significantly lowering the number of keystrokes needed, and making better use of screen “real estate” than the 3270 interface—which 20 years ago crested the famous technology innovation “S” curve and today simply can’t.

The “Groove”

The dedicated wizards in RDz enable you to reduce the amount of typing you do, and Eclipse-based tools let you make better use of screen real estate. RDz is a good choice for business application development, as it enables you to support and maintain existing applications and build and test future applications. (Note: For a more detailed understanding of the product, screenshots are available from the author; see contact information at the end of the article.)  

Exactly how much groove RDz has was established by IBM in an IDE efficiency benchmark done at the beginning of 2010, with RDz V7.6.1 compared against ISPF Version 6 across a spectrum of roughly 100 traditional z/OS application maintenance tasks. (A copy of these results is available at http://mfzne.com/oudxz.)

With V8, RDz hardens the groove, taking the established productivity and ROI benefits to new levels in three areas:

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