The Future of Rexx

[Copyright © IBM Corporation, 1994. All rights reserved.]

Programming languages are among the most enduring features of computer science and the computer industry; they take a decade or more to become established, and can then survive for generations of programmers and operating systems. Rexx is now widely recognized as the leading extension and macro language.

In its original form, sometimes called "Classic Rexx", Rexx has broken new ground in usability and productivity. The next major phase of development is Object Rexx. Object Rexx has evolved over several years, and brings Rexx's traditional ease-of-use to the object-oriented world. For example, in OS/2, Workplace Shell and SOM objects can be used as the target for messages sent from Object Rexx as easily as calling a built-in function.

Importantly, users and programmers can gradually start to make use of messages in ordinary OS/2 CMD programs -- it will no longer be necessary to embrace a whole new programming style in order to begin to reap the benefits of an object oriented system. However, for the experienced programmer, Object Rexx provides a first-class object oriented programming system with the usual concepts of inheritance, polymorphism, and encapsulation. Added to that is an exceptionally simple mechanism for concurrency -- and other enhancements that will be useful for both object oriented and "classical" programming.

Rexx is also a player in the Java environment, too. A new dialect of Rexx, called NetRexx, works seamlessly within the Java environment: NetRexx programs can use any Java classes directly, and may be used for writing any Java class; this brings Java security and performance to Rexx programs, and Rexx arithmetic and simplicity to Java. A single language, NetRexx, may be used for both scripting and application development.

Mike Cowlishaw