How to Learn RPG

I have not written any material to teach RPG IV to new people, but I frequently receive e-mail from people who are interested in learning it from the beginning. This page will provide some suggestions for learning RPG.

Starting from scratch

If you've never programmed in any flavor of RPG, and you need to learn it from the ground up, there are two books that I recommend:


Programming in RPG IV, Fourth Edition
by Bryan Meyers and Jim Buck

This is a tutorial-style book that teaches you RPG from the beginning. It's an ideal book for both teaching yourself RPG and for a textbook for an RPG class.


The Modern RPG IV Language
by Bob Cozzi

This book has some tutorial-style information, but is more focused on acting as reference material. Once you've learned the language, you'll want a quick way to look up and use the operations that are available, and that's where this book comes in handy.

Upgrading Your Existing RPG Skills

RPG IV Jump Start, Fourth Edition
By Bryan Meyers

If you're already familiar with the basics of the RPG language, you don't need to start from scratch. This book teaches you the differences between RPG III and RPG IV, allowing you to update your skills.


Who Knew You Could Do That with RPG IV? A Sorcerer's Guide to System Access and More.
This is easily the best Redbook that IBM has ever published. It's focus is to teach someone who's already familiar with RPG IV, a series of advanced topics, including ILE, Subprocedures, APIs, Sockets, IFS, Database Access and so much more. The link is to a web page where they will explain how to search out the Redbook on IBM's site.


The Learning Center
Any time you want to learn a new System i related skill, there's no place better to shop that the Learning Center of the System iNetwork. There are books on every System i topic that you can imagine, plus there are e-Learning classes, Computer Based Training, Power Tips and more.

Free Materials

It's my opinion that if you want to learn RPG, the materials listed above are the best materials that you'll find. However, aside from the "Who Knew..." Redbook, the above materials are not free.

It's possible to learn RPG without paying for materials. Fair warning, though: It's much more difficult.

All of the manuals for the System i are available at no charge over the Internet. They're found in the Information Center on IBM's web site. The URL for the information center is:

Once you've reached the Information Center site, you'll need to select the following:

  • Select your region of the world.

  • Select the language that you speak, and the release of OS/400 that you're running. (V5R2 means "Version 5, Release 2")

  • Assuming that you have Java installed and running in your Web browser, it should show a navigation bar on the left-hand side, and a window to read data in the right-hand side.

  • In the navigation bar, select "Programming", then "RPG"

  • On the right-hand side, scroll down to "Websphere Development Studio ILE RPG Programmer's Guide" -- this book is a tutorial style book that's intended to help you get started with writing programs in ILE RPG.

  • On the same page as the Programmer's Guide, there's also a "Websphere Development Studio ILE RPG Reference" book. This is a good way to quickly look up a given operation code or BIF and get the syntax and frequently, even a quick example.

  • Browse about the Information Center information on all topics related to the System i