Admin Alert: Four Cool Things You Can Do with PC5250
by Joe Hertvik
As I have mentioned before, the PC5250 program that comes with iSeries Access for Windows is a mature product that IBM has packed a ton of features into over the years. This week's "Admin Alert" takes a look at four under-used PC5250 features in iSeries Access for Windows V5R2M0 to see how they can help OS/400 users.
HIDING A PC5250 SESSION FROM WINDOWS
If you have multiple PC5250 sessions running on your PC, PC5250 has a function that lets you hide a session from your Windows desktop or reveal a hidden session. To hide a session inside PC5250, select Window, then Hide Session, from the menu bar. Select the session you wish to hide, and press Enter. After it is hidden, the PC5250 session remains active but no longer shows up on the Windows task bar, and you will not be able to use the Windows ALT-TAB keystroke combination to move to the hidden session. When you're ready to reveal your hidden session, go to an active PC5250 session that is not hidden and select Window, then Show Session, from the menu bar. Select the hidden session that you want to reveal, press Enter, and that session again becomes available on the Windows task bar, and you can once again reach it in Windows by pressing the ALT-TAB keys.
Hidden sessions can have a limited but valuable use for printer sessions when you want to start the session and then hide it from users who might accidentally close it down. Unfortunately, this technique seems limited to manual activation only. I'm not aware of a way to automatically hide a session once it's opened. But if an alert reader has a suggestion for automatically activating a hidden session, please e-mail it to me, and I'll publish it in a future column.
It's also worth noting that you must have multiple PC5250 sessions running to use the hide-session feature. That's because one unhidden session must always be available for restoring your hidden sessions.
CREATING 3-D HOTSPOTS FOR FUNCTION KEYS
If you want to make your PC5250 screens more Windows friendly, the program offers an option to turn literals describing program function keys into clickable hotspots that activate those function keys. To set up function key hotspots, click Edit, Preferences, then Hotspots, from the menu bar, and turn on any of the following check boxes that will activate hotspots for your program function keys: PFnn, FPnn, or Fnn.
After turning on these options, you can also turn on the 3-D Buttons checkbox, directly below the options. When you do this, PC5250 will automatically turn any onscreen literals that describe function keys into hotspots that, when you click on them, automatically issue a corresponding function key command for that literal. So, if your screen displays a string containing an "F3=Exit" literal, activating the Fnn hotspot will turn the F3 portion of that literal into a hotspot that will automatically issue an F3 command from your AS/400 session. Furthermore, because you activated the 3-D Buttons checkbox, the F3 part of the literal will be shaded as a grey 3-D button on the screen, so users can find it easier. And because you also turned on the PFnn and FPnn checkboxes, hotspots will also be created for any literals that display strings containing "PFnn" or "FPnn" (where nn is a valid function key number).
There is also a fourth group of function key hotspots that you can activate by turning on the "nn" checkbox on the Hotspots Setup screen. However, this particular setting turns every number on your PC5250 green screen into a function key hotspot, and that can cause confusion on screens that contain a lot of numbers.
I should also note that function key hotspots will act differently, depending on whether or not you turn on the hotspots' corresponding 3-D Buttons checkbox. When a hotspot is displayed as a 3-D button, the function key is activated inside your OS/400 session by clicking the hotspot literal. If you turn off the 3-D Buttons option, PC5250 will not highlight your hotspot literal as a 3-D box, but that hotspot will still work if you double-click the literal.
You should also note that you can set up other PC5250 hotspots on the Hotspots Setup screen. These hotspots allow your users to execute URLs and macros or scripts when they are displayed on a PC5250 screen as literals.
STARTING ISERIES ACCESS DATA TRANSFER FROM PC5250
If you're in the middle of a PC5250 session, and you want to start up the iSeries Access Data Transfer to iSeries or Data Transfer from iSeries functions, you can activate these programs from PC5250's menu bar. To start the Data Transfer to iSeries program, click Actions, from the menu bar, and select the Send File to Host option from the dropdown menu that appears. To start the Data Transfer from iSeries program, click Actions, then Receive File From Host, from the menu bar.
VIEWING MESSAGES IN STATUS BAR HISTORY
By default, PC5250 displays a number of different messages in the status bar section of the PC5250 window (the bottom line of the window). These messages include:
Messages generated by the Personal Communications (PCOMM) program, which is the basis of the PC5250 package. These messages include PCOMM-generated communications messages for connecting and starting your PC5250 session.
AS/400 application error messages that are generally displayed on line 25 of your terminal display. Displaying line 25 error messages in your status bar is dependent on turning on the 5250 Line 25 checkbox in your Window Setup appearance panel (which you get to by selecting Edit, Preferences, Appearances, then Window Setup, from the menu bar). However, line 25 messages that are status messages instead of errors will not be displayed on the status bar.
You can view your session's Status Bar History by selecting View, then Status Bar History, from the PC5250 menu bar. This brings up a status bar history panel that shows all the status bar messages generated for this session.