iSeries Web Application Development Survey

Do you need to develop new iSeries web applications or modernize existing ones?

System iNetwork (aka iSeries News) wants to know more. Give us your thoughts and you could win one of three cash prizes of $100, $200, or $300 and an option to receive a copy of this survey. Click Here to begin the short survey.

BCD @ Fall COMMON Conference and Expo

If you are planning to attend the fall COMMON Conference and Expo in Miami Beach in a couple of weeks, pencil in a few minutes to come by our booth. It will be a great opportunity for us to be able to talk in person, and discuss where you're headed with your current development projects and how we can help you out.

At the Expo (Sept 17-19) you'll find us at booth 501. We'll be doing demos of the new versions of WebSmart, Clover, Catapult and Nexus - there's lots happening at BCD right now! We'll also have time to answer any questions you may have about our other products.

At the COMMON conference, we will be hosting two events. Kevin Cronin will be conducting his award-winning lab, CGI Made Easy - Browser Development with WebSmart, on Monday, September 18 from 8:00 to 10:45 am, in room A201. In his lab you will get a hands-on introduction to building ILE RPG CGI programs using WebSmart, a member of the IBM iSeries Developer Roadmap. Kevin will introduce you to the advantages of web deployment using the Apache web server which ships as a standard component of OS/400. This lab has been well-attended (and highly rated) so if you plan to be in Miami for the conference and want to participate, you should take a second now to visit the COMMON web site to sign up.

Kevin is leading a session entitled ILE RPG CGI Development Using ProGen WebSmart and the Apache Server, on Tuesday September 19 from 2:00 - 3:15 PM, in room A208 of the Convention Center. This session will introduce the WebSmart development tool and demonstrate how browser-based applications can be developed using the WebSmart templates and design wizard. Kevin will focus on using the WebSmart Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and also review the report design facilities of Clover, which is incorporated into WebSmart. We will also discuss the benefits of deploying CGI applications using the Apache Web Server and highlight advantages of a true browser-based model using CGI vs. alternatives that capture and convert the 5250 data stream.

Other Upcoming Events
BCD will also have sales representatives and developers at the IBM Technical Conference in Las Vegas (Oct 30- Nov 1) and the iSeries DevCon, also in Las Vegas (Nov 6-8).

September WebSmart Fundamentals Training Course in Chicago

The WebSmart Fundamentals software training course we are holding in Chicago the last week of September has filled up fast, and there is now only 1 seat left in this class. If you are interested in attending this class please email or call us ASAP. Our phone number is (250) 655-1766. The class will be held a short distance from Chicago O'Hare International Airport. Contact us for lodging arrangements.

If you would rather attend another class later this fall (or the last seat is taken before you can sign up for it), please fill out the Training Request form at our web site and we'll get in touch with you when we schedule another course in your area - in many cases we have been able to put together classes when 2 or 3 companies near to each other pool their resources to host a class together. This can save you costs, and allow you to have training on-site or nearby, rather than having to send people away for a week.

ProGen Plus 9 Beta Available Soon

The ProGen Plus 9 development team is has completed the internal testing phase for the new release of the software, and we have prepared the beta version. The beta is now available for download. ProGen 9 contains improvements based on dozens of client requests and reported issues since the last release of the software.

If you use ProGen Plus regularly, and would like to participate in the version 9 beta, please visit our web site to sign up, and we'll contact you when it's available.

ProGen Plus version 9 includes changes and fixes to the following areas of the product, among others:

  • The Z-Commands.
  • Character type support.
  • The Report Panel Design Aid.
  • The definition activity/history log.
  • Date conversions.
  • Validation module selection.
  • Work Fields.
  • Free format conditions.
ProGen Plus version 9 is our most stable version ever, the result of years of fine-tuning and improvements. For this reason there is relatively little risk involved in getting the beta, and the significant benefit of having early access to all the improvements. You will also get prioritized attention for any issues you run into, and the developer's ear on any further suggestions you may have.

If you have any questions about the upcoming release please contact Technical Support.

BCD in the News: System i Software Benefits from IBM's Investment (IT Jungle)

When IBM introduced the System i Initiative for Innovation and the System i Developer Roadmap, BCD became much more tightly woven into the ISV fabric and was one of 60 partner companies IBM included in the initial launch. At the same time, BCD unveiled a similar initiative of its own in an effort to expand its partner channel. Part of the offer made to new business partners included free software licenses, which they could use in the modernization of their own products or in a professional services framework.

BCD's Eric Figura is often one of the most vocal champions of the IBM midrange platform. He had not, however, always been a fan of the way Big Blue marketed the midrange systems or built relationships with ISVs.

What changed? Read the complete story about BCD and a few other partners...

WebSmart 6 Feature Profile: Internationalization

Over the last few years BCD has been welcoming a growing number of international customers. At the same time, many of our North American clients are finding that they need to start designing applications to be used in a multi-lingual environment, or shared amongst programmers on different systems in different countries. For example, your corporation may have development groups in the UK, Poland and Greece, each working on their own box. When it comes time to deploy an application, you may need to run it on each of your boxes. Or perhaps you have one team in the UK building the core components for the application, and then the definitions and code needs to be handed off to teams in other countries so they can add extra functions that pertain to their particular environments.

Conscious of the challenges involved in handling these issues, in WebSmart 6 we have included several new features to help you handle non-English character sets more gracefully as well as overcome many of the complexities inherent in working in multi-lingual environments. Below is an overview of the changes we've recently made.

Improved Install Support for International Clients
When you install WebSmart 6, the installation program detects your system's CCSID and correctly configures the free-format generator for that CCSID. This is done using the ECFGCCSID command. The ECFGCCSID command controls which two CCSIDs are used when uploading the program source (generated by WebSmart) to the target source file (on your system).

Improved CCSID Support in the sendmailex Function
In WebSmart 6 the ECFGSMTP command supports setting source and target CCSIDs for translation.

Improved CCSID include Function Support
The ‘include' function is used to include static IFS files within the WebSmart program at runtime. The new support for CCSIDs in this release helps to avoid problems with translating IFS files stored with language-specific CCSID's, and lets you create IFS files correctly using language-specific CCSID's. This is useful when having to translate an Excel spreadsheet or when creating PC-type files. The include function now has a new parm for translation, where if you specify an option of *TEXT, the native translation takes over for IFS files.

Improved CCSID Support in the opnstrmf Function
The opnstrmf function now includes an optional parm called 'CCSID'. You can use this parm to specify the CCSID of newly created IFS files (when a file is created as a result of the open). The default value is 437. You may use this parm when writing out IFS files for other languages or in cases where the data translation between CCSID 819 (browser based information) and the 437 do not correspond.

New CCSID-based translate Function
There is a new version of the translate function which accepts a from- and to- CCSID value to perform a translation (as opposed to using translation tables, which tend to be fraught with challenges and often require manual modifications).

Expanded Documentation on Character Set Issues
And finally, we have also added a lengthy section to the WebSmart 6 User Guide appendix that address character set issues. The section was taken from our internal developer/tech support documentation, and identifies many of the data transitions where you can run into difficulties (online form to IFS, database to browser, etc.), and explains how to ensure that you cover your bases to avoid problems.

If you have any questions about WebSmart internationalization, or further suggestions of features we could add to help address issues you have encountered in your particular environment, please contact Tech Support

Clover 1.5 Feature Profile: Rebuilding and Copying Definitions

Clover is an optional component of the WebSmart suite, designed to help you create reports, queries and charts and deploy them in browsers. Clover is seamlessly integrated into WebSmart, so there is no special install procedure. If you install the main WebSmart components (WAS on the server, IDE on the client) then all you need to activate Clover is an extra security code. The main difference you'll see in the product when you activate Clover is that you will now have access to a whole new set of templates designed specifically for reporting. But this is just the most visible difference.

Due to the nature of the templates we've designed for Clover, much more of the design logic is embedded in the wizard steps. Because of this, Clover more easily lends itself to supporting something you may have already been wishing for: the ability to rebuild definitions. Because the differences between templates are either cosmetic or handled behind the scenes by the wizard, any Clover report you create can be rebuilt using any other Clover template. When you select the option to rebuild a definition (from the Tools menu), the wizard is re-launched, beginning with the very first step of selecting a template, and continuing from there. All the files, fields, filters and other details from your original definition are retained, and you just walk through the wizard steps again making the few changes you need. Or if all you wanted was a different template, you may not have to make any changes at all. If you choose a new template that includes elements that weren't in the original template (a graph, for example), those options will be blank during the rebuild, and you can type them in as you go. In addition, if you want to create a copy of your program, all you have to do is specify a new program name at the Program Attributes step, and a new definition name when you save.

There are many situations where this feature can come in handy. For example:
  • If you have created a definition but had forgotten to include a necessary element (a calculated field or filter, for instance).
  • If you decide you need to use a different template family, to get a different look.
  • If you need to produce a different type of report (such as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet rather than a standard HTML web page).
Clover 1.5, with the ability to rebuild definitions, will be shipped with WebSmart 6 in a few weeks.

Nexus 3.06 Feature Profile: Menus

Another Nexus feature that has been greatly improved in version 3 is your control over the menus presented in your site.

Why Menus Matter
When you introduce a web portal as a means of accessing information in your organization, it's critical that your intended users accept the tool you've chosen. And two of the most critical factors determining this are the ease with which your site can be navigated, and how intuitive users find the site structure.

For example, your organization may currently have a hodgepodge of reports, documents and applications that everyone accesses in the way they find most convenient. If you intend to use an intranet portal to bring order to this chaos, it is very important that your new site have an accessible page layout and site structure. Otherwise your users won't be able to find their way around, and everyone will just continue to use 3M treeware solutions stuck to the sides of their monitors and stapled to their cubicle walls.

Nexus exists to help you organize your site content, and the new menu features have been enthusiastically received by our testers because of the simplicity they bring to their sites. Below is a quick overview of how they work.

Menu Types and Management
Nexus 3 includes a number of different menu types to choose from. Some are dynamically updated when authorized users create group or personal pages, and other menus can be created by the site administrator explicitly for specific groups and individuals.

When the site manager selects the option to work with menus, they see something like this:

This site includes three types of menus: a My Pages menu, a Vertical Group menu, and two Custom menus. Nexus 3 also supports Horizontal Group menus, similar to the style available in previous versions.

Personal and Group Pages
You'll notice that there is no authorities link (the golden key) for the first two menus. That's because all the site administrator is required to do is make these types available, and then authorities are handled automatically when individual pages are created and added to the site. For example, if you grant a user the authority to create pages, they are automatically added below their My Pages menu. Likewise, if a group manager creates some pages for their user group, these are automatically made available in the Groups menu to all members of the group.

So every time a user logs into Nexus the set of pages available to them at these menus is dynamically built based on their authorities.

Custom Pages
The site administrator (and other authorized users) can also create custom menus that include links to any number of related pages. When you create a custom menu, you can establish a list of groups and/or users who are authorized to the menu as a whole (by clicking the key above), as well as to each item the menu links to.

Using the Menus
At runtime, the menus are presented along the top left side of your browser window, just below the breadcrumbs (another useful Nexus 3 navigation tool):

As you mouse over your menus they drop down to display the entries. The Groups menu includes an initial entry for each group you belong to, and you can follow each entry to the right to present a list of the pages belonging to that group.

Nexus 3 is now available for download from our web site. The new, extensive Reference Guide with detailed tutorials exploring the most important features will also be available soon.

New WebSmart Example Programs: Clover SmartCharts

Taking advantage of the usual end-of-summer lull in technical support calls, the WebSmart support team has produced several new WebSmart example programs for you to use as references in your own projects. Below are the latest additions:
  • Example 120 - Clover programs that work together to drill down on information. This example illustrates how you can link together multiple SmartCharts to drill down through your data.
  • Example 119 - Multi-series SmartChart with detailed hover text and labels. This example gives you a glimpse of features available in WebSmart 6.
  • Example 118 - Column-based SmartChart with a trendline. This example illustrates a column-based SmartChart with a trendline running through it.
  • Example 117 - Column-based SmartChart with different colored columns and detailed hover text. This example shows a column-based SmartChart with different colored columns and detailed hover text when you hover over each column. The values of each column are also shown at the top of the respective column.
For further details on any of the WebSmart examples, or if you have any questions on how to implement the techniques they demonstrate, please contact Technical Support.

 Summary List of Recent Updates

DbGen 2.31
There have been two recent DbGen updates:
  • DB23R013 (Requires V5R1M0) - 2006/07/10 - Fix to get the file and member wait time parameters when importing a logical or physical file. Previously these would be blank and then the files would fail generation.
  • DB23R012 (Requires V5R1M0) - 2006/07/10 - Fixed two problems relating to files DB#053 and DB#016C where errors occurred when deleting a physical file and its dependant logical files.
Please visit the DbGen Updates page for further information on the available updates.

© 2006 ExcelSystems Software Development, Inc.
ProGen WebSmart and ProGen Plus are Registered Trademarks in the US and Canada, and Trademarks in all other countries.