Vs Code Banner ARCAD

VS Code & IBM i (aka AS/400 or AS400) with ARCAD for DevOps

What is VS Code?

Visual Studio Code (aka VS Code), the most popular IDE, is a fast, lightweight, extensible Code Editor and platform for “full stack” developers. It is free and open source. With a ton of extensions available, VS Code can be used to write code for backend, frontend, web apps, literally anything across the entire spectrum of development.

VS Code Benefits

What are the benefits of VS Code on IBM i?

ARCAD for DevOps schema

Today, thanks to the Code for IBM i and ARCAD for DevOps extensions, VS Code is now production-grade on IBM i. VS Code improves productivity and quality of traditional IBM I development: RPGLE and COBOL of course (but also CL, DDS, CMD, etc.) with multiple tools to analyze code, debug, refactor, build, test, and deploy.

VS Code offers some key advantages to IBM i developers:

  • cross-platform compatibility – develop across multiple platforms from the same UI

  • intuitive UI – with auto-complete, syntax highlighting, debugging, and more…

  • vast ecosystem of extensions – add functionality for multiple languages and frameworks

  • Git integration – version control and collaboration built-in

  • Live Share – real-time collaboration with team members

VS Code is managed locally, so every developer is free to extend VS Code with any language or framework they choose; this is a level of freedom and flexibility expected by the modern developer today.

Many new open-source extensions are being developed by the IBM i community, providing access to a wealth of knowledge and resources for developers

Vs Code Extensions

Why use the ARCAD for DevOps extensions to VS Code?

Thanks to its open and modular architecture, the ARCAD stack brings a transparent integration to VS Code on IBM i. That is, using the ARCAD extensions to VS Code, IBM i developers gain an unprecedented level of automation in the use of Git, Jenkins and other DevOps tools. This brings two major benefits:

  • “Traditional” IBM i developers can more rapidly and easily adopt VS Code, Git, CI/CD and concurrent development with the fewest possible changes in their daily processes

  • Developers “new to IBM i” can rapidly contribute to RPG and COBOL development and access the DB2 database without needing to know the specifics of the IBM i platform

Vs Code Features extensions

Today, ARCAD extensions offer the following features:

ARCAD Builder uses the ARCAD metadata repository to recompile all dependencies automatically. No makefiles or scripts to maintain – Cross-references are updated in real time. As soon as a developer starts to use VS Code with ARCAD, all of the build infrastructure is created automatically, enabling a personal build and then (when ready) an easy integration into a shared branch
ARCAD Transformer RPG – on-the-fly code RPG conversion to modern Free Form syntax
ARCAD Observer application analysis functionality available directly in the code, at the developer’s fingertips:

  • instant impact analysis down to source line and field level using ARCAD cross-references
  • “CodeLens” feature using the ARCAD metadata repository – revealing file declarations, procedure declarations, procedure usage, and more
CI-CD – Seamless IBM i automation from the developer’s codespace. That is, as the developer is working in his/her codespace, any actions which require IBM i functionality are automatically invoked – for example:

  • ARCAD transparently creates a library for each new branch, making “concurrent development” with Git on IBM i extremely easy-to-use
  • an entire pipeline can be triggered as soon as a change is pushed to a repository: something as simple as a single compile, or multiple steps with things like code quality, third party vulnerability scanning, reporting, unit and regressions testing all without developer intervention.
ARCAD CodeChecker – code quality and security checking for RPG and COBOL available from within VS Code, applying both standard coding rules and any custom rulesets defined for local requirements

ARCAD is constantly adding more IBM i features to VS Code in the form of extensions. These features are released both for local VS Code and for the cloud-based Merlin IDE.

Coming soon to VS Code is:

  • ARCAD iUnit for unit test automation on IBM i

Vs Code Development team IDE

Can a mix of IDEs be used inside my IBM i development team?

The ARCAD for DevOps stack supports mixed IDEs – any one IBM i team can have a mix of 5250, RDi, Merlin, VS Code: literally any other editor that can save to a PC file (e.g. Notepad++, IntelliJ, etc.) in use at any one time over the same Git repository.