I’ve long been both a proponent and a critic of IBM’s RFE(Request For Enhancement) program. For a several years, it was clear that RFEs just went into a black hole. Then, several years ago, IBM started actually paying attention and implementing them. There have been a number of them implemented to date – a couple that come to mind are the un-deprecation of db2_install and the creation of PDF manuals.
I grabbed a copy of the list of RFEs from a one of Roger Sanders’ presentations at IDUG last year of the RFEs included in releases of Db2 11.1:
An RFE is something that you wish Db2 did or did better, but the way it is currently done is not considered a defect. If you open a PMR/Case with IBM and they answer that it is “Working as Designed”, you can open an RFE to ask them to change it anyway.
When I talk to IBMers at the Toronto Lab, I get the feeling that it is now sometimes hard for them to get time to spend on enhancements that don’t have an RFE with a number of votes. In fact, if you check out the top 5 by vote count, only one is not in a “future consideration” status, and I’ve been told that one is so complex it will basically never happen. I have also heard from IBMers who are working on some of the others, so I expect to see more of these delivered in future “Mod Packs” and versions.
IBM has moved the RFE process to a new system called “Aha!”. This is a system they use internally for tracking what they’re working on and commenting on work and ideas. RFEs are now called “ideas”. Check out the new system at https://ibmanalytics.ideas.aha.io/?project=DB24LUW. You’ll have to create a login, which is frustratingly not tied to your IBM ID.
One of the first things I noticed was a simplified category structure. Almost everything is now just under “Db2”. I get a kick out of the URL including ‘DB24LUW’, because with the renaming, I often still find it needed to specify the platform, and apparently IBM does, too. I love the category simplification for creating an idea (RFE), because some of the categories may not have made sense to those outside of IBM – I have no doubt I must have submitted at least one under the wrong category. I wonder how they are actually assigning these, internally, though? The categories before lined up with teams within Db2 development, so when a new one came in, it was easy for them to see where it belonged.
The new system also gives the roadmaps a place of honor at the top of the page. These roadmaps were previously only something IBM would share with a select few, after we had signed an NDA. They still have much more complicated versions of the roadmaps internally, but now anyone can see the big-picture Db2 roadmaps.
Mapping From Old System
I checked on several of the RFE’s I had entered in the old system, and they are there. The good news is, you can vote for your favorites all over again! Since there’s no tie to the IBM ID, it doesn’t know you’ve already voted for things! Quick, go vote for:
- Forcing LOAD COPY with HADR
- Session-Level Reset for the MON_GET Metrics
- Create Current Training Material for Db2
- Add buffering for LOBs
The bad news is that any subscriptions you had in the old system are gone. As of this writing, there does not appear to be any way to subscribe by category. What this boils down to is that I am suddenly not getting notifications I got two weeks ago for newly opened RFEs (ideas). It also means that even for the RFEs (ideas) that I opened, I will no longer get notifications, unless I go into each one individually and click “subscribe”.
The even worse news is that any links to RFEs you shared go to perfectly valid looking entries in the old system. They can still be voted on, even. But I have to assume that there is no communication of those votes to the new system. For me, this means I have to go back and change a half-dozen or more blog entries to point to Aha. Redirecting the old links should have been inherent in any transition to a new system. This also means that any forum post, StackExchange thread, or Reddit post points to something that still looks valid, but the votes go nowhere.
I also think IBM would do well to have something easily clickable that shows the original text of an idea (or whatever that morphed into through the development process), how many votes it got, and what release included it. An easy way to display this would allow people to really see that their ideas included in the product. I shouldn’t have to ask an IBMer for this or take a screen shot of a presentation.
Some Good News
There are some good things about the new system. There is now an ability to comment on every idea. This is fabulous for other DBAs to add ideas or express how to do something when the functionality already exists. I hope to see some good discussions in the comments. I’m told there is a spam filter on comments, though in a test a comment I made appeared immediately. I’m betting that some spam will get through and some things will be mistakenly flagged as spam.
I also find that when I subscribe to an Aha idea, it suggest others that I might be interested in. This is a fantastic feature.
From what I hear, this system is still a work in progress, and improvements are constantly being made. I hope to see it evolve to truly meet the needs of the IBMers who write Db2 and the needs of the Db2 community.