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Several third party tools needed for Solaris

Posted on 1998-06-22
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Last Modified: 2013-12-27
I am the Systems Administrator for a financial institution that is converting its banking
software and hardware from the Wang VS to Sun workstations and Solaris 2.5.1.
The banking application has been rewritten for a client/server implementation.
We are looking for third party tools that can perform the following functions from a
menu-driven interface or a GUI interface:

1.]   Viewing wide reports (ASCII Data) on the screen and being able to search for
        records within the screen and scroll from the beginning to the end of each record.

2.]   Queue management for specifying the following actions:
        -  print multiple copies of a report
        -  cancel jobs
        -  delete reports

3.]   Backups

4.]   Security

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Question by:dweatherb
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by:braveheart
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Tk/Tcl is one toolset for writing a GUI which you might like to try. However there were certainly compatibility problems between different releases but some claim that these have been ironed out now.

One approach which I favour is using HTML to design forms for your UI, possibly invoking CGI scripts. Performance can sometimes be a problem with this approach but it has the advantage of being very simple to program so you could use it for prototyping. Using this approach:

1.] would be solved by any popular web browser

2.] and 3.] would require some simple CGI scripts

4.] would require further definition before anything further could be said.
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by:gadio
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let me add some more ideas. If your application was already written as client server (you can
add some more info about that), than what you need is simply a GUI representation tool. In that
case there are few options:
1. Generate your data as html and use a web browser to view them. Conditions 2 and 3 are only
   partially met.
2. Write your GUI viewer application. You can use tcltk as braveheart suggested, or java. I
   personally would go for java. It would solve the compatibility problems you might find in
   tcltk, and offer you a lot of functionality. A bit more complicated to master it though.

If however your client server application is not fully implemented yet, beaveheart's offer is
a good option. I think that you may want to use servlets rather then CGI, but that depends on
the functionality that you want to get.

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by:dweatherb
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Our clients are win95 over NFS and TCP/IP.  Can Tk/Tcl be used on Solaris as well as Windows95 (development & production)?  Is Tk/Tcl two separate components, or are they bundled?
You suggest using a Web Browser to display ASCII reports. Would we have to convert the ASCII data to HTML first?  Are CGI scripts similar to PERL scripts?
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by:dweatherb
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braveheart & gadio ==>> Thanks a lot for your advice but I need more clarification...

1.]   Compare servlets and CGI scripts. (environment,O/S,sfware req., etc)

2.]   Compare Tk/Tcl and Java (environment,O/S,sfware req., etc)

Do you know any off the shelf products that have the ASCII viewer and search functionality?  We are at the development and testing stage with the Client/Server application. Basically, we want to provide functionality that existed on the Wang system to our users and to simplify the tasks for our remote branch oprerators who will have to manage server-based reports and backups, etc.
I have evaluated Solstice backup, but I think that produce hogs disk space and is relevant for ufsdumps only. We need to put three different types of backups on the same 4mm DAT DDS tapes ( Informix, tar, ufsdump ).

Concerning security, we want to force users to change their passwords regularly. Because users don't normally use the unix command prompt, when their passwords expire, all they will see is an invalid login at the Win95 client. Which means that the System Administator must assingn another password as root. How can we tell the Win95 client to report to or warn the user about his or her password expiration status. Also, how can we add a Win95 icon that runs the unix passwd command? We also want a security environment that can protect our data as well.
Basically, we want to simplify the tasks of our users and operators.  We don't want them to have to learn the unix command line!

Thanks in advance for your help!!!!

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braveheart earned 220 total points
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Tk/Tcl are two related products - one is a sort of shell scripting language while the other is a GUI manipulation language which is fully compatible with the shell tool. They always go hand in hand and are certainly available on Solaris, although I don't know about Windows.

ASCII reports do not need to be converted to HTML, they are just displayed as plain text in a browser.

CGI scripts refers to the way in which they are used, not the language in which they are written. They are often written in PERL, although any shell-type command language will do.

gadio's suggestion of JAVA sounds good to me too but will require more work and will not be quite so easy to maintain. It would be more robust from a security point of view, probably.
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by:gadio
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Answer to your first comment:
1. Yes, tcltk can be used both on Solaris and on Win95, but you might run into these compatibility problems (it is very rare).
2. Tcl is a strong scripting language. In the last versions there is a compiler so your code turns to machine code to increase performance. TK is the GUI graphic extension for TCL. They can be installed as a single package.
3. You can open pure ascii files in a browser and view them, however this would be the same as opening them in an editor (without editing capabilities). You will have no control through the browser.
4. CGI scripts can be written in PERL, sh, tcsh, C, C++, java and almost any other langague. I have seen many done in sh, because all of the unixes has them built in. Perl is also very popular.
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by:dweatherb
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From what you are saying the display/browse/search functionality will not be possible from within a browser  unless the ASCII data has been converted to HTML format and
CGI (What does the acronym mean) scripts are written to implement the searches!
Is this correct? What is the latest version of Tk/Tcl and where can I download them?
What is the latest version of Java and where can I download them?

Any other suggestions/recommendations concerning the other issues?

Grateful for your recommendations!
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by:braveheart
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Not so. You can still display/browse/search with a browser on plain text files - they do not need to be converted to HTML, which would have been very simple anyway.  The only thing that you could not do would be to alter the files.

If you need to edit the files you would have to do it via a CGI (Common Gateway Interface - see http://hoohoo.ncsa.uiuc.edu/docs/cgi/overview.html).

Tk/Tcl are available at http://sunscript.sun.com/

Java is available from http://java.sun.com/
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by:gadio
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ok dweatherb, braverheart answered this question but you sound as if you didn't get an answer so I will try and answer
myself, and give you more details. You should start and do some major reading. Read about the CGI in the link that you
were given. In general, the CGI program (whatever language) is activated by the http server that is installed on the
server machine, as a reaction to a specific URL (universal resource locator) given in the top line of the browser or a
link pressed in the remote client machine running a browser (the URL can hold parameters as well). It can be activated in
root permissions or to be configured otherwise. It gets in its stdin or environment variables arguments in a given format,
and should print on its stdout an html page. This page is going to the http server that directs it back to the client (a
remote browser). The new page can hold in it links to the same CGI or other CGIs. The html page can also hold forms that
the use fill etc. This way you can built sort of a 'state-machine' that can give the user options to do many things. The
major difficulty in you point of view is the fact that CGI do shot work and terminate when the next page is displayed to
the client. So, with CGIs your 'server' (implemented by many CGI scripts) doesn't hold an open connection with the client.
That would make you very hard life when you try and implement a session based connection to a server (you want
authentication by a password and probably personalized permission for each user). For your application servlets would be
preferred because of reasons I'll soon tell you. Servlets are working very much like CGI but with two distinctions 1. they
are done in java (not a bad thing at all). 2. The connection is not dead. Your servlet keeps on running and you keep a
connection open. Its better for you because of the authentication thing, and you will implement password changes (and
force changes) easily. You should look at the experts-exchange site. It is quite close to what you want to do right? I
don't know if they did it with servelts but I am willing to bet that they did (and a very nice work I should add).
No, the search in a report can be done in the browser, while you can use a servlet for doing some more complicated stuff
(like getting all the reports that have a given string in them, special DB querys, backup management, server control
statistics and monitoring, graphs generation - etc.).
The latest java version out is jdk1.1.6 . There is jdk1.2 but its still beta. The jdk includes compiler, runtime
environment, profiler, documents generator and some other tools.

Good luck,
G.
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by:gadio
Comment Utility
ok dweatherb, braverheart answered this question but you sound as if you didn't get an answer so I will try and answer
myself, and give you more details. You should start and do some major reading. Read about the CGI in the link that you
were given. In general, the CGI program (whatever language) is activated by the http server that is installed on the
server machine, as a reaction to a specific URL (universal resource locator) given in the top line of the browser or a
link pressed in the remote client machine running a browser (the URL can hold parameters as well). It can be activated in
root permissions or to be configured otherwise. It gets in its stdin or environment variables arguments in a given format,
and should print on its stdout an html page. This page is going to the http server that directs it back to the client (a
remote browser). The new page can hold in it links to the same CGI or other CGIs. The html page can also hold forms that
the use fill etc. This way you can built sort of a 'state-machine' that can give the user options to do many things. The
major difficulty in you point of view is the fact that CGI do shot work and terminate when the next page is displayed to
the client. So, with CGIs your 'server' (implemented by many CGI scripts) doesn't hold an open connection with the client.
That would make you very hard life when you try and implement a session based connection to a server (you want
authentication by a password and probably personalized permission for each user). For your application servlets would be
preferred because of reasons I'll soon tell you. Servlets are working very much like CGI but with two distinctions 1. they
are done in java (not a bad thing at all). 2. The connection is not dead. Your servlet keeps on running and you keep a
connection open. Its better for you because of the authentication thing, and you will implement password changes (and
force changes) easily. You should look at the experts-exchange site. It is quite close to what you want to do right? I
don't know if they did it with servelts but I am willing to bet that they did (and a very nice work I should add).
No, the search in a report can be done in the browser, while you can use a servlet for doing some more complicated stuff
(like getting all the reports that have a given string in them, special DB querys, backup management, server control
statistics and monitoring, graphs generation - etc.).
The latest java version out is jdk1.1.6 . There is jdk1.2 but its still beta. The jdk includes compiler, runtime
environment, profiler, documents generator and some other tools.

Good luck,
G.
0
 
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Expert Comment

by:gadio
Comment Utility
ok dweatherb, braverheart answered this question but you sound as if you didn't get an answer so I will try and answer
myself, and give you more details. You should start and do some major reading. Read about the CGI in the link that you
were given. In general, the CGI program (whatever language) is activated by the http server that is installed on the
server machine, as a reaction to a specific URL (universal resource locator) given in the top line of the browser or a
link pressed in the remote client machine running a browser (the URL can hold parameters as well). It can be activated in
root permissions or to be configured otherwise. It gets in its stdin or environment variables arguments in a given format,
and should print on its stdout an html page. This page is going to the http server that directs it back to the client (a
remote browser). The new page can hold in it links to the same CGI or other CGIs. The html page can also hold forms that
the use fill etc. This way you can built sort of a 'state-machine' that can give the user options to do many things. The
major difficulty in you point of view is the fact that CGI do shot work and terminate when the next page is displayed to
the client. So, with CGIs your 'server' (implemented by many CGI scripts) doesn't hold an open connection with the client.
That would make you very hard life when you try and implement a session based connection to a server (you want
authentication by a password and probably personalized permission for each user). For your application servlets would be
preferred because of reasons I'll soon tell you. Servlets are working very much like CGI but with two distinctions 1. they
are done in java (not a bad thing at all). 2. The connection is not dead. Your servlet keeps on running and you keep a
connection open. Its better for you because of the authentication thing, and you will implement password changes (and
force changes) easily. You should look at the experts-exchange site. It is quite close to what you want to do right? I
don't know if they did it with servelts but I am willing to bet that they did (and a very nice work I should add).
No, the search in a report can be done in the browser, while you can use a servlet for doing some more complicated stuff
(like getting all the reports that have a given string in them, special DB querys, backup management, server control
statistics and monitoring, graphs generation - etc.).
The latest java version out is jdk1.1.6 . There is jdk1.2 but its still beta. The jdk includes compiler, runtime
environment, profiler, documents generator and some other tools.

Good luck,
G.
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by:braveheart
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Is there an echo in here?
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by:gadio
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Wow! I hope that this comment will be written ONLY once into the ee DB!
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by:gadio
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Wow! I hope that this comment will be written ONLY once into the ee DB!
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by:gadio
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Wow! I hope that this comment will be written ONLY once into the ee DB!
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by:gadio
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Wow! I hope that this comment will be written ONLY once into the ee DB!
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Author Comment

by:dweatherb
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There does appear to be an echo!
Thanks for your patience, "experts", but before I start along any particular learning path, I want to confirm that the investment will be worth it.
First, we are looking for an off the shelf product that can provide the
display/browse/search functions on ascii reports that will be accessible from the Win95
clients. I know you said that any web browser can provide these functions on ascii data,
but users would have to learn how to use browsers, and not all our users are computer
literate. Basically, we are looking for some "off the shelf" products that can provide the
functions that I listed originally.
Do you think I should try another area of experts exchange for the other Solaris functions?

Thanks again for your suggestions and advice!

Regards!

Denmark W.
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by:braveheart
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Since you are using EE you must be familiar with some browser. The browser which I use is Netscape, which is off the shelf. If I use the latest version I pay a licence fee but older versions are free.

I can't see that anything else off the shelf would have a simpler interface. Navigation from file to file is done via clickable links in the files themselves, or by clicking on buttons Back/Forward/Home on the browser itself.  Scroll bars are provided for viewing any part of a file.

There is a Find button which brings up another form to allow you to search for a string in the current file with the option to search forwards or backwards and to specify case sensitivity. I can see that perhaps some sort of wildcarding facility would be useful but, apart from that, what more do you want?  Perhaps some sort of feature for searching the entire set of reports - we use an HTML/CGI based tool called "hard boiled egg" from http://www.eggcite.com/.

Seriously, anything you buy off the shelf will have much the same limitations as the solution I suggest. Only a custom solution might be simpler to use and you would have to pay some software house quite a lot of money to design and build it. Of course, the need for maintenance will be built in too because they will want a continuous stream of revenue... I used to work for one.

For Solaris solutions, this is the topic area to choose. You will only want Unix Programming (or HTML or CGI) if you decide to develop the solution yourself.
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by:dweatherb
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I agree with you that users should be able to handle a browser, once they are properly
trained. I use netscape 4.0 for internet browsing and email, etc., but I haven't used it for
browsing or searching ascii files. I'd like to test these functions.
Can you give me the procedures and format specifications to load an ASCII file located on
my C:\Drive into the Netscape browser? Lets say the ASCII file is named "report.prn"!
I know you specify the filename in the "Location" field, but I'm not sure of the format for
specifying a local filename that is not an HTML file.

Thanks for your help.

I would appreciate any additional advice you can give me about this procedure.
You seem to have a lot of experience in this area. by the way I downloaded both
Java and Tk/Tcl. I want to evaluate these tools as well. I downloaded the documentation
as well. Do you know any other sources of "getting started" materials that can help me
along this learning path.  I'm not new to programming at all, so I know I will catch on fast.

Regards!

Denmark W.
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by:gadio
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There are two ways to open your file
1. type in the url line
   file:///C|/dir1/dir2/dir3/report.prn
2. File->open page->put name(or browse)->open
You can also get to the file through a link an another page. That would be the best option, the user will not know where the file is and will put no names by himself.

About your second phrase, I think that you should choose your development tool (java <-> tcl,perl,etc.). There are two issues here:
1. The ease of learning (java will be a bit more difficult I think). If you are familiar with c/c++ it will not be very hard. If not - you have a lot to learn...
2. If you want to keep an 'open and alive context' with a given user. If you do - servlet is your option (as I said before).
There are nice tutorials for java in the java.sun.com site.

Regards,
G.
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by:dweatherb
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Great, I'll start testing.
What are the considerations in selecting a development tool if I want to create applications for the Win95 environment?  Some applications will have to be created for
the Solaris server, and some will have to be created for the Win95 platform. In all cases
the data will reside on the Solaris server. By the way, I know C but have not tried C++ yet.

Thanks again!
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by:dweatherb
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Please send me some source code in Java and in Tk/Tcl that does the follwing functions:
1.]  Create an Icon that when clicked starts the Netscape browser which goes to a       specified homepage immediately.

Thanks in advance!

Denmark W.

Knowledge is power, but it is only usefull if it is shared !!

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by:stam061398
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BTW: What database do you use?
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