The Future Of Web Apps On IBM i

According to a forecast by global market intelligence firm IDC, more than 500 million digital apps and services will be developed worldwide by 2023. And the majority of these apps will be made for industry-specific digital transformation use cases. IDC also predicts that by 2024, over 50% of all IT spending will go directly to digital transformation and innovation projects, growing at 17% every year. 

Looking at the report cited above and other studies, it is easy to see why enterprise application development and the modernization of legacy business apps is rapidly gaining importance for companies across industries. This is also true for thousands of businesses around the world that rely on the IBM i platform to power their IT infrastructure and serve as a foundation for some of the most critical business operations. 

What is wrong with traditional IBM i app development? 

When it comes to building new applications for IBM i as part of digital transformation initiatives, companies that rely on traditional application development processes and approaches are frequently facing a number of typical issues that are getting more and more common today. 

Based on multiple reports from IT leaders working for companies that utilize IBM i, here are some of the most crucial challenges they have to deal with today when tasked with development of new business apps for this platform.

  • Growing needs for versatile high-qualified software engineers. 

As modern-day enterprise web applications are getting increasingly complex and multi-functional, the completion of an app typically requires a number of developers with expertise in a handful of programming languages. As a result, IT departments are constantly facing the need to hire new software engineers specializing in different languages and technologies. 

Javascript, HTML5 and CSS are the most common requirements for front-end development, Python, Java, PHP, and Ruby are among the most popular choices for back-end, while there is also the need for database technology experts (MySQL) and other niche specialists. The fact that trending and popular programming languages tend to change, often within just a few years, puts additional pressure on teams developing new business apps for IBM i. 

  • Rising web app development costs. 

Rising app development costs is another major problem caused by growing complexity and the diverse programming languages and technologies required in this process. The need to allocate greater budgets to build an app especially hurts small and medium-sized businesses, as not having enough financial resources restricts their ability to implement technological innovations, resulting in them lagging behind in digital transformation efforts. 

  • App quality issues. 

Growing app complexity and the need to implement comprehensive business logic in enterprise web apps also leads to a growing number of bugs and usability problems in newly created products. Such issues tend to accumulate over time, sometimes leaving companies no other choice but to completely rewrite the app to fix errors and adapt it to newer technologies and components. This, of course, results in IT budgets being stretched even further. 

  • App integration difficulties. 

As almost any enterprise application created today requires integration with at least one other system or specialized software package, it is not unusual for IT departments to experience issues when trying to implement completed apps and make them part of business operations. 

  • Problematic and expensive maintenance. 

The maintenance of new IBM i applications is another source of problems and additional costs due to the fact that updates and revisions require time and often can’t be done without third-party involvement.

Why low-code is the future of IBM i web apps development? 

Above-listed problems and other related issues are directly linked to the reliance on the traditional app development methods when building enterprise solutions for IBM i platform. 

The majority of these challenges can be solved or minimized by switching to the low-code app development approach. According to a forecast by Gartner, low-code and no-code platforms will account for 65% of all app development by 2024. 

When it comes to the creation of IBM i apps, however, it is crucial to select the right low-code tools that have a full support of this platform and were designed to satisfy the needs of IBM i users specifically. 

Such as Visual LANSA, a hybrid low-code development platform that combines the flexibility and control of traditional programming with the benefits and concepts of low-code principles.

Here are a few key Visual LANSA features that enable fast and time-efficient development of new IBM i apps for businesses of any size. 

1. Programming language independence.

Visual LANSA has its own programming language, allowing developers to create entire IBM i applications inside LANSA’s IDE with the same development approach as any Visual LANSA application. Thanks to this, developers no longer need to learn several web development languages when building new apps, while companies don’t have to hire expensive front-end and back-end developers. 

2. Flexible IDE.

With the ability to code both client-side and server-side apps from inside the IDE, LANSA’s hybrid low-code approach is the most versatile method for developing IBM i applications. Developers can create entire new apps, from planning the app logic to deployment, inside a single IDE, and easily migrate existing applications written in other languages using LANSA’s bridge capabilities. All the development tools are located in one IDE to maximize the efficiency of the development process as much as possible. 

3. Convenient integration with legacy systems.

Another crucial advantage of Visual LANSA when it comes to IBM i apps development is the hybrid low-code approach that allows developers to easily integrate new tools with legacy systems and components without creating time-consuming workarounds.

4. Single app components repository. 

Visual LANSA has a unified repository for all the app development components, which allows software engineers to reduce development time and increase efficiency defining business logic in one location and use the same modules and components for every new IBM i they are working on. 

5. Cross-platform deployment. 

Finally, unlike many other low-code platforms, Visual LANSA enables easy cross-platform deployment, allowing IT teams to quickly deploy newly created IBM i apps to the cloud and other platforms, such as Windows and Linux.

Progressive Web App

Want to know more about how progressive web apps can be easily built for the IBM i?

These are only a few use cases for the utilization of progressive web apps on the IBM i. Let’s take a look at how PWAs can be used for your business practice:

  • Crafting new user experiences for employees to access and query the information they need on any platform
  • Creating a web-based ticketing system for support agents, enabling work to be completed on a desktop or mobile environment
  • Utilizing Web NFC to communicate with IoT devices and retrieve information about manufacturing equipment performance
  • Creating a Content Management System (CMS) to deliver student content that can be available offline, enabling students with limited internet connectivity to view, edit, and complete assignments
  • E-commerce with the Web Payment API and Paypal integrations
  • Mobile accident assessment applications with the ability to take photos and videos of an accident, use audio recording to record testimonies, and more


Access the full progressive web app whitepaper.

Want to know more about the benefits of low-code IBM i development? 

LANSA has been providing enterprise technical teams with tools to simplify the modernization and engineering efforts of IBM i solutions for over 30 years now. It includes a number of proven tools designed for IBM i users specifically, which makes it probably the best low-code platform to develop new apps, modernize existing ones and even create an entire ERP when needed. 

Watch this video webinar if you want to learn more about the power of LANSA’a hybrid low-code approach and its benefits for IBM i enterprise development trams.

Ready to begin? Get in touch with us to start utilizing LANSA for digital transformation of your IBM i solutions today. 

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