Seven Must-Have Skills to Build Modern IBM i APIs


Modern API development requires additional skills that extend beyond the traditional IBM i development stack. In The 10 Question Framework for High Performance, Secure IBM i APIs, Dan Magid outlined the need to rethink how companies integrate their IBM i with external systems and that just because you can do something doesn’t mean it’s a wise thing to do. Dan listed seven foundational skills required for developing modern APIs that are standards-based, secure, high-performance, and compliant. This post outlines those skills and links to free training videos you can use today (no registration required).

Here are some foundational skills that IBM i developers should add to their toolbox:

  1. REST APIs are the dominant design architecture for integrating business applications over the web. They create loosely coupled, high-performance, maintainable integrations between systems. Developers should familiarize themselves with REST principles and learn how to design and build RESTful APIs.
  2. JavaScript is the language of the web and the most widely used programming language for web development in the world. It is a modern language explicitly designed for web-based interactions, especially with variable (and often malformed) data in event-based systems. Developers should learn the fundamentals of JavaScript, including syntax, data types, functions, and objects.
  3. Node.js is an engine for running server-side code written in JavaScript. It
    provides a robust set of APIs for building web applications and APIs.
    With the new support for Node and JavaScript on the IBM i, developers should consider using Node.js to build web applications and APIs on IBM i.
  4. NPM is the Node Package Manager. Npmjs ( hosts over 2,000,000 free open source packages for use in JavaScript applications. These modules range from simple functions like exporting JSON data to Excel to complex, fully functional web servers and production-ready API client SDKs built by major tech companies. Developers should learn how to use NPM to access packages, manage dependencies and integrate third-party modules into their applications.
  5. TypeScript is an extension of JavaScript that provides strong type checking for your JavaScript and allows teams to enforce structures and standards in their JavaScript code. It is particularly useful for building sophisticated enterprise applications that are meant to be easily maintainable. Developers should learn the basics of TypeScript and how it can be used to improve the quality and maintainability of their code.
  6. Git is an industry-standard source control tool used globally by approximately 100 million professionals to manage versions, maintain audit logs, and coordinate complex code changes within teams of developers. Developers should learn how to use Git to manage their code and collaborate effectively with other developers.
  7. SQL is the standard language for database interaction and is seeing increasing adoption in the IBM i world. Strengthening your SQL skills will not only help in adopting the latest database features provided by IBM, but it will also open up the world of connecting with relational databases on other platforms. Developers should learn to use SQL to interact with open databases and build APIs to access and manipulate data.

Modern API development on IBM i requires skill sets beyond the traditional IBM i development stack. The seven foundational skills listed in this article are essential for building modern APIs that meet today’s business environment’s performance, security, and compliance needs. With the links to free training videos provided, IBM developers proficient in COBOL or RPG can start learning and incorporating these skills into their toolbox today, ensuring their IBM i will continue to serve their companies with the latest innovations far into the future.

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