RPG programming on IBM i was greatly improved on IBM i 7.1 in the Technology Refresh 7 (TR7) time frame. Additional free-form support for the RPG language and embedded SQL precompiler was provided for H, F, D, and P specs. Free-form C specs were previously supported, and now all RPG specs have free-form support except I and O specs.
RPG syntax in free form is similar to other modern languages and can be understood easily. It allows programmers who are familiar with other languages such as Microsoft® Visual Basic, Java™, and PHP to be trained more easily in RPG and with lower cost. The new syntax also makes programming easier for existing RPG programmers. As such, the free-form syntax is beneficial for both existing RPG programmers and new RPG programmers.
Free-form RPG allows code to be specified as free-form statements rather than in specific fixed columns.
Free-form code is still restricted to columns 8 – 80.
The /FREE and /END-FREE compiler directives are tolerated, but are no longer required for free-form.
Multiple line definitions are easier to code, easier to maintain, and easier to understand.
Defining data items with long symbol names is no longer problematic.