Receiving more than half the votes cast, Philip Yeo’s mainframe advice dominated the field in the latest IBM Destination z Tips and Techniques Challenge. Hosted on the Destination z community forum, the contest asked members to share their best mainframe advice for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card and an IBM Heritage T-shirt.

Yeo’s winning entry, as chosen by 53 percent of the 136 Destination z members who voted, focused on the benefits of Rational Developer for System z (RDz) as a “new development paradigm in mainframe enterprises.” As he put it:

After working with the classic green screen, ISPF through TN3270, one of the great advice for mainframe career is to use RDz as a new development paradigm in mainframe enterprises. As an eclipsed based tooling, RDz is capable of everything accomplished by TSO, ISPF, and SDSF. Having had a in depth understanding of the TSO, ISPF and SDSF, it was a natural progression to this new state of the art GUI which increased my productivity and thereby improved my overall performance as an application developer for the mainframe world.

About Yeo
With 11 years of IT working experience, Yeo is currently a research assistant and graduate student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He’s also a software architect for the Platform of Ocean Knowledge Management (POKM), an implementation project funded by Canada Advance Research and Innovation Network (CANARIE).

“My first foray into mainframes began when I joined the Application Management Services under the IBM Global Outsourcing unit, way back in 2004,” Yeo says. “Back then, our customer, Malaysian Airlines, had a huge mainframe shop, and I was fortunate enough to have been teamed up with the airline operations and engineering tower of applications team. The application I supported was an MRO-based (maintenance, repair and overhaul) application developed using PL/1. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, I was exposed to mainframe, too, through the Master the Mainframe contest.”

In 2010, the mainframe competition—in which Yeo finished fourth—allowed RDz to be used for the first time in the contest’s more advanced stages. It was this exposure to RDz that helped Yeo realize its benefits and potential.

“Given my earlier exposure to mainframes and remembering the Eclipse-based framework I worked with for many other projects, I was immediately hooked on using RDz throughout Part 3,” he recalls. “It was also during the contest that I got to know former IBMer Steven Ma and part of the RDz development team. The team’s advice and guidance helped me improve my use of RDz.

“Personally, I found the tool to have increased my efficiency and productivity,” Yeo adds. “On a side-note, it does make for a good UI switch to attract new talents into mainframe computing.”

In entering the Destination z challenge, Yeo saw it as a learning opportunity. “It was my desire to be exposed to enterprise computing on the mainframe and dabble with real-life mainframe system development that attracted me to it,” he says. “Furthermore, I can never say no to a challenge.”

The Rest of the Field
The second Destination z Challenge garnered about a dozen entries. Of those, three finalists were selected for members to vote on. Finishing second, with 24 percent of the votes cast, was a bit of advice from Greg Roos who extolled the wisdom of backups. He stated:

Before you make any system changes always create a backup. Held true in 1979 and still does in 2012!

Ariel-Vargas.JPGThat backup advice resonated with Ariel Vargas, who was randomly selected to receive the prize of a gift card and T-shirt as well. His name was drawn from about seven who posted their rationale for voting the way they did. With 18 years of mainframe experience, Vargas currently works in MVS system programming for United Parcel Service. He noted that: “I always think backup before implementing.” So he participated in the contest because he wanted to “share with others, that a good backup is the best thing to plan when making modifications.”

Rounding out the finalists, with 22 percent of the vote, was the following entry from Eric Seftel:

You don't have to know EVERYTHING about the mainframe; You just need to know where to look for the information.