Moving iSeries green screen to the Web - direction/best practices?

Lynn Harris
Lynn Harris used Ask the Experts™
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Hi,

I need to make a couple iSeries green screens available on the Web (asap). They need to be mobile friendly as well.  I have experience with SQL, but no web development. Can anyone recommend best book/articles as a starting point. Any direction or tips would be greatly appreciated!

As we will be moving forward with other screens, I need to acquire the skills instead of outsourcing.

Thank You,
Lynn
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VP Technology / Senior Consultant
Commented:
This is a big topic, and the best solution isn't the same for everyone.  How complex are the programs you need to redevelop right now?  Are you planning on doing "scratch development" for the new apps, or are you trying to come up with a way to adapt your existing applications?  Is a full-scale conversion in the future?  How complex are your UI requirements?  What other development skills that lend themselves to web development, other than RPG and SQL, do you have in-house that you can leverage?

If your need to work fast, don't have time for a lot of learning curve, and if you can consider third-party tools, I'd suggest you look at:

http://www.bcdsoftware.com/iseries400solutions/websmart/

Based on the demos I've seen, you can get up and running pretty fast this way.  There are probably other similar tools, too.  Downside, of course, is "tool lock-in".  You're probably going to live with this tool for the life of your new apps.

You can develop mobile/web sites that interact with IBM i using just about any development tool you like (access the database, call stored procedures, call programs, call web services, etc), so tool/skill set (or skill set you'd like to develop) is really one of the defining decisions.  Web site development is often handed in two parts: front-end development (using a wide variety of tools and platforms) and back-end development, which on IBM i can be done in RPG, Java, Cobol, C, php, SQL, node.js, or other tools.  

A lot of our clients, for example, do front-end web development in .NET, using Visual Studio, and use the IBM i DB2 ADO.NET data connector to access the database, call IBM i DB2 SQL stored procedures, call IBM i programs that have been "wrapped" as external stored procedures.  Others have taken core RPG programs (API style programs with no display file logic in them) and deployed them as web services using the web services publishing wizard.publishing wizard.  Web services are easily accessible with no special connector in a variety of web front-end development languages and tools.

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Commented:
Hi Gary,

Thank you for your response.

The programs I’m looking to develop right away are basic (subfile listing with a couple pop-up windows). I was hoping to do “scratch development” for it. We are looking for a way to adapt existing screens as well. One product we were looking at is Rocket software. I used JWalk many, many years ago to GUI the front-end of applications for another company.  Thank you for the WebSmart information.  We will be looking a third-party solution if we move forward with full-scale conversion.  In-house skill set does not lend itself to doing everything completely from scratch.

.Net is something I was looking at and seems to be popular.

Honestly, you have confirmed I’m not wondering off in the weeds too far. Now I need to do some research and playing. I’m sure I will be posting more direct question as this project moves forward (provided it stays on track). I’m going to close this question for now and dig a bit more.

I appreciate you input!!
Have a great weekend.
Lynn

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