Free Form Definitions

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One of the major new features of ILE RPG, introduced in 7.1, is free form definition specifications.

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  • Removes the column restrictions on definitions.
  • Can be interspersed with standard, fixed form, definitions.
  • /free and /end-free no longer required.


  • IBM i 7.1 or higher.
  • 7.1 PTF 5770WDS SI51094.
  • If using SQLRPGLE, 7.1 PTF Group SF99701 level 26 or higher.

Free-Form Definitions

The following are the new free-form definition statements to take the place of the indicated fixed-format specifications.

CTL-OPT  . . equates to H-specs
DCL-F  . . . equates to F-specs
DCL-C  . . . equates to D-spec constants
DCL-S  . . . equates to D-spec stand-alone fields
DCL-DS . . . equates to D-spec data structures
END-DS . . . to terminate most DCL-DS statements
DCL-PI . . . equates to D-spec procedure interface definitions
END-PI . . . to terminate procedure interface definitions
DCL-PR . . . equates to D-spec procedure prototype definitions
END-PR . . . to terminate procedure prototype definitions
DCL-PROC . . equates to P-spec begin statements
END-PROC . . equates to P-spec end statements


     D* fixed-form declarations
     D string        S       50A VARYING 
     D date          S         D DATFMT(*MDY) 
     D obj           S         O CLASS(*JAVA:'MyClass') 
     D ptr           S         * PROCPTR 
       // free-form declarations 
       DCL-S string VARCHAR(50); 
       DCL-S date DATE(*MDY); 
       DCL-S obj OBJECT(*JAVA:'MyClass'); 
       DCL-S ptr POINTER(*PROC);
       // constants
       DCL-C max_count 200; 
       DCL-C deleted 'D'; 

Fully Free-Form coding

Another one of the new features of ILE RPG, introduced for 7.3 and as of 7.2 TR 3 and 7.1 TR 11, is a fully free-form coding format. The program source must start with **FREE and this removes all of the prior column restrictions for RPG source.

  • Fixed-form specifications cannot be used in the main program source.
  • Fixed-form copy/include files can still be used—the SQL precompiler, at least, automatically inserts **END-FREE and **FREE around them.
  • Columns 6 and 7 no longer have special meaning for fixed-form specification characters, compiler directives, or comments.
  • All free-form statements, compiler directives, and comments may start in column 1.
  • All comments must start with a double forward slash (//), instead of an asterisk, and can be used practically anywhere/anytime.
  • Column 80 is no longer the restricted right margin for statement content.
  • The entire source line length may be used for statement content—no reserved comment area.
  • Source line lengths greater than 100 characters are automatically supported.


Dawn May: Free format RPG and TR7

RPG Cafe: Fully free-form RPG

IBM Knowledge Center: Free-Form Statements