SHARE 96 Trip Report

SLAC 19 March 1996

Cathie Dager

I was invited to SHARE to attend a special Rexx executive session. I also performed "mouse duty" for Les Cottrell during his presentation and attended Mike Cowlishaw's Java talk. Les covered both presentations in his trip report. Mike briefly mentioned NetRexx, his Rexx for Java, and his NetRexx Web page (at

The SHARE Rexx Project arranged the special session with John Swainson, IBM Vice President of Application Development Solutions and Director of the Toronto Laboratory, who has final responsibility for Rexx. Also in attendance were Christoph Dibon, the eight-months-new Manager of Rexx and Object Rexx Development, and several key users. Prior to the session attendees received a "position paper" entitled "The Future of Rexx and Object Rexx," which Les and I have copies of.

This paper reflects a very different future for Rexx than was forecast in the IBM Rexx Future talk at the SLAC Rexx Symposium last May. Since then, IBM has acquired Lotus, and LotusScript which is much like Basic, is now strategic.

Swainson said "there are three million Basic programmers and 100,000 Rexx programmers." Therefore, IBM must consider the market. Supposedly they will not drop support of Rexx but neither will they expand it until there is a market demand. The users in attendance and even Mike Cowlishaw considered Swainson's number low for Rexx programmers. Mike said that more people than that had bought his Rexx book.

Swainson stated that IBM will release Object Rexx in Merlin, which is the next release of OS/2, but that Large Systems Division, managed by Linda Sanford, decided not to add Object Rexx to VM and MVS. And, directly from the paper:

"The plans to provide a version of the Object Rexx interpreter for the Linux operating system have been put on hold. We still inten[d] to make the executables and the documentation available. We are currently investigating how this can be accomplished in the most effective way. We also inten[d] to make the source code available to interested parties under a special license agreement."

It appears to me that IBM has decided to put their money behind Basic, and not Rexx. This is not a wise technical decision and may prove to not be a wise financial one either.

Cathie Dager