Open Source Technology Stands On The Shoulders Of Legacy Applications – IT Jungle

May 3, 2021

From microservices to the cloud, executives often want to follow all the latest IT trends. Application developers are no different, except that they want to preserve all of the hard work they and their colleagues have done, while still meeting the new demands of the business. How can this be done? The answer could lie in employing open-source technologies, but in a manner that acknowledges that these technologies would never have been able to flourish without business-oriented languages such as RPG and the applications that millions of programmers have created and supported over more than four decades.

RPG Gave Us The Foundation

The vast estates of monolithic, legacy application code in the world represent the history of the organizations that run them – and that literally run those organizations. But the monolithic and legacy nature of those applications are the two top reasons for IBM i shops to start working towards application and system modernization. RPG gave businesses the ability to build truly custom functionality and add business value. Since “legacy” code has already done so much for us, why would you want to change?

Sometimes, people change for the sake of change, but most of the time people change because they have to or they see a benefit from that change.

The term “legacy” can definitely carry a negative connotation, but that legacy is what built hundreds of thousands of companies in the IBM i market alone into what they are today, transforming them from what they were many decades ago and in many cases before they had automated their back office, sales, manufacturing, and distribution operations. The thing is, legacy code is not bad! Legacy is where we came from, it encapsulates the very business and it represents code that works so long as you don’t mess with it, which is important. And as such, we should embrace it and give it the credit it deserves. It is the legacy that makes the future brighter.

Some businesses claim that .NET and Java are modern alternatives to other IBM i programming languages. That’s pretty funny, considering that both languages are close to three decades old. Languages such as Node.js are much newer, are understood by younger developers, and make modernization, integration, and portability of business systems drastically easier. Also, age is not everything. Node.js has an incredibly active community of people that are constantly updating and improving the language. Age brings fit and finish and refinement, which definitely has value, but there is always a new language coming along that is tailor made for specific languages.

You do not have to be on one side of the other, in fact, there is not two different sides at all. Legacy code written in RPG and code created in modern languages such as Node.js (a server-side variant of JavaScript that has taken off like wildfire) are both part of the same story. You need one to get to the other. You need the latter to preserve and extend the investment in the former.

Legacy IBM i programming languages such as RPG, Java, and .NET have built the foundation of application development, but now is the time to use that foundation to push your business into the future. RPG programming development resource availability is at an all-time low, and forecasts do not look promising for any resurgence. That fact, combined with the reality that a full-blown transformation initiative can take several years on average, simply means that putting off aggressive digital transformation activity is no longer an option for most organizations.

Utilizing JavaScript Alongside Other Languages For Application Development

When you hear the term “open source” you often think of 20-year-old developers building applications on the cheap for trendy startup companies. However, large organizations such as Netflix, PayPal, and even NASA have been using JavaScript for years. These companies were able to push their applications to the next level quickly because they were able to take advantage of what the community has already built.

One of the most used open-source languages used by business is Node.js. Node, which is an open source, cross-platform, unifying programming language, is JavaScript, the most widely used language in the world. Node.js runs on both the server and the client, allowing your team to do it all. Node.js was created in 2009, maturing enough over the last 12 years to be used by small and large companies for the building and successful deployment of their primary enterprise applications.

JavaScript is essential for simplifying and speeding up your development process. Open-source languages, like Node.js, give you access to millions of pre-built solutions you can utilize to expand business capabilities to save you time and money. Incorporating Node.js into business development gives you the power to make integrated, cloud-ready applications in just a few clicks.

Maintaining and updating your systems is exponentially simpler with an open-source language that allows you to add and update functionalities over time without any downtime. Node.js allows you to expand your business capabilities while still preserving the years of custom functionalities build with RPG.

One way to test if Node.js is right for your business is by getting your hands dirty and diving into the code. Profound.js Spaces is a free, cloud-based IDE and community for Node.js developers of all skill levels. Profound.js Spaces differs from other online JavaScript development platforms because it supports full-stack, transactional business development, as opposed to front-end development only.

Spaces is built on top of Profound Logic’s low-code solution, Profound.js. Profound Logic has been in the code transformation for over 20 years, and our staff of experienced developers are here to help you build a custom solution for your business needs.

To learn more about Profound Logic’s solutions and services and to contact our professional team, visit

This content is sponsored by Profound Logic.

Michael Killian is vice president of strategic accounts at Profound Logic.


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