GUIing AS/400 Applications

Posted on 2000-03-03
Last Modified: 2011-09-20
I am in the process of making the old green screens all nice and pretty for the users. My question is this, what are the standards that should be associated with the generation of these screens? Is there one?
Question by:ptata
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LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 2580967
Your screens should basically conform to Windows standards. That's about it. Their behaviour should make sense.

Typically - OK button would conform to pressing Enter, Cancel with F13
Alt+F4 = F3, etc.

What are you using to create this GUI stuff. I spent two years of my life writing a GUI generator for the AS/400 and then the bastards shelved the project.

On a happier note though, they were bought over and had to make a significant portion of their staff redundant afterwards. Serves them right.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there.
Subfiles are going to be fun, as there is no native Windows control that really matches the behaviour. I ended up using a ListView for read-only and selection subfiles, and a grid for maintenance subfiles. If you have a choice in the matter and the freedom to do so, I could mail you a couple of OCX controls I developed to be used for subfiles.
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Expert Comment

ID: 2580971
Sorry, typo - Cancel = F12
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Accepted Solution

caraf_g earned 75 total points
ID: 2580978
PS - Windows standards should override AS/400 standards. Do NOT use F3 to exit. Make Alt+F4 send an F3.

Do not show the user any command keys, nor process any. These are meaningless to Windows users. If your AS/400 screen says F19=DoSomething, then give them a button that says DoSomething only, and send the F19 when the user clicks it.

Sorry.... all this time I've been assuming that you're doing what's called screen-scraping. If you're not I've been waffling like an eejit and wasted your time.
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Author Comment

ID: 2581022
Thanks for the info. I am using a proguct called GUI/400. Its a pretty decent tool to front end the green screens, but the users are looking for a more "window" like look. From what I have seen, this product does work and I'm not too sure just what they are looking for. The function keys appear as push buttons and the software sends the keystroke to the 400 so they really shouldn't give a rat's butt what the function key is. I think they want it to look like a Word screen... but THAT ain't gonna happen. Have you ever used the IBM product called visual age?
LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 2581850
It's been some two years since I moved on. I've heard of GUI/400, seems to be a good tool. Does it allow you to introduce your own controls?
LVL 28

Expert Comment

ID: 2582620
What about Visual RPG?

Expert Comment

ID: 2587241
One thing you should consider is why you want to have a GUI in front of your application. The normal answer to this is that you want to be able do modify the dialogues so that they can be adapted for different types of users and to allow for a more easy learning curve. If you use screen-scraping products, you will most certainly conserve the dialogue in the 5250-programs and only change command-keys for buttons, black background to grey and so on.
To really use a GUI, you need to replace all presentation logic. This will also require you to split you existing 5250-application into at least two tiers, presentation tier and business tier. The business tier would contain everything but pure presentation and dialogue logic. The presentation tier would in reality only consist of some 5250-preparation, handling and simple validation + a lot of calls to business "services". When you have done this, it's quite easy to add a second implementation of the presentation tier, for instance with Visual Age for Java. This would be a minor project, as 95% of your application already is running in the business tier.


Author Comment

ID: 2587457
WOW!!!! Lets see, I guess I opened a can of worms here. We are GUI'izing our screens manily for the learning curve. While the green screens are functional, they are less than desired for the newer people coming in. The GUI/400 product allows us to use the existing logic on the AS/400 yet provide a nice graphical front end that is easier to use and understand. The new generation of GUI/400, caled J-Walk, also will allow us to generate front end apps that access the data on the 400. This allows us to almost develop apps without touching the 400. ALSO since the software here is home grown and has been around for quite some time, it is more advantagous for us to use that rather than re-develop the applications. I did find some information on the visual age product put out by IBM and would like to investigate that further. However, with the limited budget at our disposal and the fact that we already have the GUI product in house, it would make more sense financially that we use what we have. Also I would like to explore the JAVA solution as well. The programs that already exist could be easilly changed to accept parameters from the front calling programs and the JAVA would provide the look and feel that we desire(I think... I don't know a lot about JAVA as of yet.) Thanks for all the input. I think I am on the right road so far, but I like receiving all the ideas!

Expert Comment

ID: 2603612
Regarding Visual Age...

I have used Visual Age for Java, it contains a wizard that totaly automates
the process of porting screens to windows and creates java classes that you can then override to improve the resulting form.

You can produce trully good looking pages with it for verry little effort.

On the down side, you would have to learn Java and the connection to the 400, over TCP and Client Access is a bit slow.

Author Comment

ID: 2612111
I guess what I was looking for would be a somewhat windows standard. Since the application is NOT a windows application, the standard is whatever the users are looking for or what they are used to. This would be the discression of either the programmer or the users themselves. I am still interested in the visual age process though... so if there is any more information on this, I would love to hear aboput it.

Expert Comment

ID: 7864544
Another option that allows you to put the GUI in the business tier and avoid Java and at least the requirement for Web Browsers is to use the RPG GUI that adds X-Windows direct support from RPG programs.  You can see it at this website:  It is a slick way to add native GUI to one of the only systems that doesn't have one.
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Expert Comment

ID: 7866478

I can't believe that some people are still doing this, but... good luck in your endeavours.


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