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support externally described programs and service programs
Program objects (*PGMs, *MODULEs, *SRVPGMs) should support "reflection" so that the interface(s) are "visible" so that it is no longer necessary to hand code and maintain "/COPY book members" (1960s technology.)
Back around V5R2, IBM began adding PCML support to some ILE languages, so they can be more easily used with tooling such as IWS. That was a great "first step."
I propose to take this to its logical conclusion -- extend the PCML so that it covers all of the possible data types of the parameters etc., such that any other language compiler, instead of having to use a "/INCLUDE" statement to pull in the source code for a definition of the externally exported interfaces, can use a statement such as:
uses pgmName.PGM; or imports srvPgmName.SRVPGM; or import moduleName.MODULE;
and those compilers will use the embedded PCML to extract the needed definitions.
Also, the "uses" or "import" statement should permit optional "library qualification," for example:
This will go a long way towards making IBM i the truly modern object-based OS that it was intended to be.
This will greatly reduce the possibility of runtime errors and storage overlays and corruption due to mismatches between the "definition" (/COPY book) used at "compile time" and the actual generated code executed at runtime, thereby further improving the reliability and integrity of the platform.
Ideally, the compilers can generate some kind of a "hash" or "signature" over the parameters as well as the procedure names, so that at runtime, when a program or service program first references (and activates) another *PGM or *SRVPGM, it can check these signatures just once, at initialization time, and detect any "mismatch" between the definition used when the calling program or service program was originally created, and the *PGM or *SRVPGM that is about to be used at runtime.
This is analogous to the OS/400 database "record format Level ID" and compiler generated code to perform a "Level Check" at file OPEN time, to prevent similar disasters where the record layout used at compile time no longer matches the actual database file record layout. This feature has likely prevented may serious problems where data could otherwise be "corrupted" in customer database files.
A similar feature for compiled *MODULEs, *PGMs and *SRVPGMs will provide similar benefits.
The "good news" is, IBM has already added some PCML support. So, IBM can just build upon that as a foundation, to create the needed capabilities.
Many modern languages such as Java support a similar mechanism, where you simply state:
to import the definitions from the .class or .jar file.
This is also similar to modern languages such as Python, node.js, etc.
There is also a movement in the ANSI C standard to add "modules" to ANSI C, for a similar purpose.
This support should also be extended to work with Java --since Java supports "reflection" it should be possible to code a statement such as:
use javaPackageName.class; or use javaPackageName.jar;
and the compilers should be able to extract any needed definitions from the Java .classes using the "reflection" capabilities built into Java.
This would alleviate the error-prone process of having to manually define the interface to the Java methods, etc.
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