Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Why Field Exit? It's long overdue!

When I started talking about Field Exit with colleagues and customers, they were excited.  The community now is so spread out it's hard to know where to go for information.

I also had a couple people mention we didn't need another community, and that there were already so many.  Well, in a way, that is correct.

Some of the communities have been around for a while, and while still functional hold on to outdated technology.

The discussions also seem to repeat every few months.  Simple questions get a flurry of answers (usually all the same, just worded differently) with everyone acting like they're getting points if they answer or if they shred the smallest error in another response.

What I really want from our community is real honest to goodness peer communications discussing projects and technologies that are being used, or could be used.

  • No forcing specific solutions.
  • Using specific examples of past or current projects instead of theory or hearsay.  
  • No answering a question with "why would you want to do that?"  
  • No ulterior motives.  
  • No worry of censorship (even from ISVs and Vendors posting products as solutions).

And especially no suggesting technologies that are outdated (ie SNDDST for email, Net.Data, etc).

SNDDST is one of my biggest pet peeves (along with pretty much anything that uses the QtmmSendEmail API).  Yet these are still being slung as good solutions to sending email on the IBM i.  They're not.  They never have been.  They maybe never will be.

Yes, I have a conflict of interest here because I wrote the MAILTOOL (and more importantly MAILTOOL Plus) software.  But, with all of our software at BVSTools it came from a need or customer request.

The need in this case was for ourselves.  We were so sick of dealing with the IBM SMTP server and MSF and their oddities.  Setup of the server was painful and a crap shoot at best.  Also, since we've used Google for Business for years, we had needs that IBM's SMTP server couldn't provide (authentication and SSL or TLS).

There had to be a better way, and we made it.

Now that cloud email servers (such as those from Google and Microsoft) are becoming popular we're seeing even more customers using the MAILTOOL Plus technology.  Requirements such as SSL/TLS and/or authentication are things that IBM is frantically trying to incorporate and band-aid into their SMTP server process.

MAILTOOL has had that functionality for years.  Again, because we needed it.  And when the need changes, because we wrote the software, we can provide top level support and updates as needed.

I believe we also need a site like Field Exit.

Then entire Field Exit site is written using IBM i technologies as well as open source projects such as jQuery and CKEditor.  It even runs on the IBM i hardware and OS.  You can't say that about most of the other groups.

The site will continue to change as needed, hopefully implementing new technologies as they come along, and are a good fit.

We wanted control of the site (in a sense that we can build it any way required, not control of the content itself) as well as a nice Proof of Concept for the good old fashioned AS/400 folks.  A way to use the technology we love and put it to good use.

We hope to use the site itself as a way to discuss technologies ranging from ILE to Server Side Includes (SSI) to working with the IFS to Web Services.  Hopefully something for everyone.

So, I'm calling to all IBM i (and AS/400!) professionals, ISVs, Vendors and users to join us at www.fieldexit.com and contribute, share and discuss.  We're keeping things simple as they should be.   Check your ego at the door and help the community grow.