Moving the IBM i RFE site to a new location
April 4, 2022
IBM announced last month that it was moving its Request for Enhancements (RFE) program to a new location. Now, IBM i users will be invited to submit and vote on RFEs through its new IBM Ideas website, where IBM centralizes RFE programs for various products, including IBM i.
In the summer of 2016, IBM opened a new RFE program on its developerWorks site at www.ibm.com/developerworks/rfe/. This site marked the first formalization by Big Blue of its requirements process, until then divided between four entities: the COMMON Advisory Council of the Americas (AACC), COMMON Europe Advisory Council (CEAC), the Large group of users (LUG) and the IBM ISV Advisory Council.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of IBM i-centric RFPs have been submitted over the years. And through the voting mechanism built into the developerWorks website, the IBM i community was able to get additional feedback on desired features. Most of the RFEs were denied by IBM officials in Rochester, Minnesota, but some of them were good enough for IBM to incorporate the requests into IBM i operating system releases.
Over time, IBM began to offer other RFEs for other operating systems and products. Currently, users can select from hundreds of different products in the drop-down list, including nine listings for various CICS products, 19 for various DB2 on z/OS products, and 39 for various IMS products. IBM i, alas, has the single public listing (there is an option to submit an IBM i RFE privately), although there are separate categories for PowerHA, PowerVM, PowerSC and everyone’s favorite virtualization layer, PowerVM VIOS . Anyone equipped with an IBM ID could log into the RFE system, browse requests posted by other users, vote on RFEs if they wished, and even submit their own RFE.
Beginning in 2019, IBM began phasing out parts of the developerWorks site and moving them to other locations, including the developerWorks Connections website. Apparently it was time to move the RFE portion of the developerWorks website as well, because on March 23, Nancy Uthke-Schmucki, IBM i Enterprise Architect for IBM i Ideas Focal Point and CAAC Program Manager, wrote a blog post on the IBM Power Community website notifying the IBM i community that moving day was coming for the IBM i RFE program.
“Many IBM products have already moved to a new single place where customers can issue and view requests,” Uthke-Schmucki wrote. “This place is called ‘IBM Ideas’ and incorporates the use of Aha!, a partner tool. It’s time for our IBM i and Developer for Power Systems (i.e. RDi) RFE products to also make the transition.
The IBM i RFE site was to migrate to the new IBM Power Systems Ideas Portal (https://ibm-power-systems.ideas.ibm.com/) from March 25. Users can still visit the old RFE website, but visitors are greeted with a note stating that many products’ RFE content has already been migrated to IBM Ideas and the rest of the products will be moved over the next few months. .
Users will have a better experience on the new IBM Ideas site compared to the old site, says Uthke-Schmucki. In particular, the search experience will allow users to better identify duplicate requests.
“When you start typing your one-sentence summary for a new idea, the powerful search engine will immediately show you titles of existing ideas that match some of the words, so you can decide if you still want to create your own. new idea, or upvote and/or comment on an existing idea,” writes the IBM i enterprise architect. “If you happen to create an idea that is later determined to be a copy of an existing idea, your idea will be merged with the content of this existing idea.”
Users will also notice that there are new names for the various states that RFEs go through on their way to becoming finished features in the IBM i operating system. All ideas begin with the “submitted” tag. Soon after, it will be “under review” as the IBM i team takes the time to read it and determine if it is feasible.
The “need more info” tag will appear if the IBM team has questions about the idea. If it passes the initial muster, it will get the “future consideration” tag. If it’s a particularly good idea that Rochester is taking action on, it’ll get the “planned for future release” tag.
There are three resting places where ideas will eventually end up: “delivered” for ideas that enter the operating system; “the feature already exists” if it is largely a duplicate item; and “not under consideration” for ideas that are not of interest to IBM engineers.
The new IBM Ideas site will not be as free and open as the old RFE site in one important way: the identity of people making requests.
In the old RFE site, all users could see the IBM IDs of people who submitted RFEs and those who commented on them. With the new site, the identities of people submitting and commenting on EFRs are masked by default, although people can choose to identify themselves if they wish.
“If you are comfortable letting the IBM i community know your identity, please add your name to the end of your idea details section or to the end of your comment,” Uthke-Schmucki writes. “It is also acceptable to use a pseudonym, if you wish. As you will see, collaboration will be enhanced if there is a name associated with the interactions, but the choice is yours.
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