Project Lightning Strikes AS/400

While Java may be the future of AS/400 application development, V4R3 hasn’t forgotten the client/server GUI developer.

The new release introduces the AS/400 Software Developer’s Kit (SDK) for ActiveX and OLE DB, also known as Project Lightning. The SDK provides interfaces that make it easier to build GUI client/server applications using Windows 95/NT clients and the AS/400 server. It also provides fast performing, record-level access into the DB2/400 database as well as other common AS/400 services such as SQL statements and stored procedures, data queues, programs, and CL commands.

The SDK consists of developer documentation, sample code for Windows 95/NT tools like Visual Basic, PowerBuilder, Delphi, Visual C++ and Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Visual Basic code-generating wizards. These wizards assist the developer in linking to the AS/400 database, programs, commands, data queues, and SQL stored procedures.

The developer is guided through a set of panels that display a list of the appropriate objects and allow the developer to select what they would like to do. The wizard then generates the appropriate code into the current Visual Basic project. The generated code can then be extended to customize the application.

The SDK is integrated with the OLE DB service provider – also known as the runtime – which was introduced in V4R2 in February. OLE DB is the Microsoft specification to provide one interface to all types of data, whether from databases, documents, spreadsheets, files or e-mail. The runtime provides OLE DB service to the AS/400 for database, SQL statement and stored procedures, data queues, programs and CL commands. It’s packaged with the base support of the IBM AS/400 Client Access for Windows 95/NT V3R1M3 product.

Project Lightning is analogous to IBM’s AS/400 Toolbox for Java, which provides application enablement for the same AS/400 services for the Java developer. "We have found that many of our AS/400 developers are locked into Windows 95/NT clients with a large investment and will be for quite some time," says an IBM white paper.

Enhancements have also been extended to ILE C and C++ for the AS/400. Both are now 64-bit enabled and have Integrated File System read capability. In addition, ILE C++ for AS/400 has a new native PRPQ compiler that will enable developers to compile C++ programs natively on the AS/400 for the first time.