Admin Alert: Alternative Ways to Print PC5250 Screens
Published: June 13, 2007
by Joe Hertvik
Most PC5250 green-screen users like using the Print Screen icon for sending screen shots to networked printers. However, there are two lesser-known PC5250 screen capture functions that can send screen shots to i5/OS output queues or to collect screen shots and print them as a group to a Windows networked printer, rather than printing each shot individually as they do when using Print Screen.
This week, I'll look at two alternatives to PC5250's Print Screen icon and the benefits they provide to your shop. While clicking on Print Screen is fairly easy for the users, these other alternatives offer a chance to better use existing resources or to provide different types of capabilities.
Alternative #1: Printing i5 and system i screens to an i5/OS output queue. Many people don't realize that there is an older operating system function that allows users to automatically sends 5250 screen shots to an i5/OS output queue. This function is called HOST PRINT and it harkens back to the days when most users worked on dumb terminals that were hardwired to old System/38 and AS/400 boxes. Those terminals had a key called HOST PRINT that when pressed sent screen shots as spooled files to a user's default output queue.
PC5250 emulates this function in software and a user can usually activate HOST PRINT and send their current screen to their default output queue by pressing the CTRL-PAUSE key combination. To view or change the default output queue for a user, you can check or change the Output queue parameter (OUTQ) in the user's user profile description. This value can be viewed and modified by using the Work with User Profile command (WRKUSRPRF).
The benefits to using HOST PRINT over the Print Screen icon is that you can use your i5/OS resources for screen shot printing, rather than using standard network printers. You can also send screen shots to an inactive output queue where the shots can be reviewed and released en masse rather than being printed and retrieve one at a time as the user has to do when using the Print Screen icon.
While CTRL-PAUSE is the usual default keystroke combination for HOST PRINT, other articles have reported that HOST PRINT can also sometimes be associated with the CTRL-NumLock and the ALT-F12 key combinations. To locate which key HOST PRINT is assigned to in a particular PC5250 session, you can perform the following sequence.
- Choose Edit-Preferences-Keyboard from the PC5250 tool bar. This brings up the Keyboard Setup dialogue where you can specify that the user session should use a user-defined keyboard file by clicking on the User-Defined radio button in the Current Keyboard area. When User-Defined is selected, the session will automatically default to the keyboard map file defined in the Keyboard-File Name field. This keyboard is usually named AS400.KMP but you can browse for another keyboard file to use by clicking on the Browse button on this screen.
- To change or view your keyboard map file, click on the Customize button on the Keyboard Setup dialogue. This brings up the Customize Keyboard screen where you can assign specific functions for any keystroke combination on your keyboard. The Customize Keyboard screen is basically a keyboard map where you can determine which keystrokes are defined to a specific key by clicking on that key. Once a key is selected, the lower right-hand corner of the screen will then display all the current actions that are assigned to all the possible key combinations the selected key belongs.
- To determine which specific keystroke combination the HOST PRINT function is attached to, click on Actions-Find from the Customize Keyboard tool bar. This brings up a keyboard search screen function where you can select HOST PRINT from the Function drop down box and then click on the Find button. Any keys that have key combinations for the HOST PRINT function will be highlighted with green stripes on the keyboard map. You can then highlight the selected key and see which key combination your user should select to access HOST PRINT.
- If no key combinations are assigned to HOST PRINT, you can assign this function to any key combination inside your map that you wish. PC5250 customized keyboards have been around for a long time, and assigning functions to a keystroke combination is a fairly simple task. To find a good simple explanation of how to do this, check out an IT Jungle article called "Customizing Keyboards in Personal Communications." Although this article is older, the basics of assigning functions, macros, and characters to PC5250 keys has not changed all that much in the last few years.
Alternative #2: Bundling screen shots to be sent to a networked Windows printer as a group. As opposed to the Print Screen and Host Print techniques, the Collect Print Screen and Print Collected Screens functions allow users to collect a series of PC5250 screen shots and then print out those screen shots as a group to the Windows networked printer assigned to their PC5250 session. Here's how it works.
For each user who wants to use this functionality, you assign the following two print screen functions to a key combination of your choosing in their PC5250 keyboard map (again, for instructions on customizing PC5250 keyboards, see "Customizing Keyboards in Personal Communications". These functions are:
- Collect Print Screens. When activated by the user, this function copies the contents of the currently active PC5250 screen into a buffer on your PC. Collect Print Screens can be run any number of times and each time it is activated, it adds the current screen shot to the buffer. In the PC5250 status bar at the bottom of the PC5250 window, the program will display a current count of the number of screens that have been collected.
- Print Collected Screens. When activated by the user, this function prints all the collected screen shots harvested by the Collect Print Screens function out to the Windows printer defined in the PC5250 session. When finished printing, PC5250 will display a count of how many screens were printed out to the Windows printer.
In my testing, I assigned the Collect Print Screens function to the ALT-C keystroke combination and I assigned Print Collected Screens to the ALT-P key combination. I then ran through a sequence of screens, pressing the ALT-C key to collect each one to my buffer. When I finished collecting and I wanted to print the screen, I simply pressed ALT-P once and my accumulated screens printed out at the same time in one stack on the printer.
The benefit to using these two Print Screen functions over both the Print Screen and HOST PRINT is that you can accumulate screen shots for one time printing, rather than printing out screen shots as ones-ies and two-ies all the time. All screen shots print out as one printer job, rather than printing individually and possibly becoming separated by other print jobs that slip in between your print screens.
Is One Technique Better than the Others?
In situations like this, there seldom is a clear-cut best way to do things. The Print Screen icon is easy to use but you can only print one screen at a time. HOST PRINT essentially performs the same activities as the Print Screen icon but it's a native i5/OS solution that allows you to direct screen shot printouts according to system i and i5 resources, rather than what is currently running on your network. The Print Screens functions allow you to group and print several screen shots at one shot but it takes a little more time to configure for each user. The one you and your users choose is basically a matter of preference but it's nice to have so many different voices on to set up screen shots printer capability for your users.
About Our Testing Environment
All configurations described in this article were tested on an i5 550 box running i5/OS V5R3. We also tested with the Personal Communications iSeries Access for Windows Workstation Program Version 5.7 for Windows (PC5250) for our keyboard mapping, and the PC5250 program came with iSeries Access for Windows V5R3M0. Most of the commands used here are also available in earlier versions of the i5/OS and OS/400 operating systems, so the configurations should be usable in prior releases. However, you may notice some variations in pre-V5R3 copies of these commands. These differences may be due to command improvements that have occurred from release to release.
Customizing Keyboards in Personal Communications
PC5250 and the Print Key
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