Admin Alert: Two Useful PC5250 Parameters In IBM i Access For Windows 7.1
Published: September 5, 2012
by Joe Hertvik
With IBM i Access for Windows 7.1, IBM offers some valuable parameters for customizing Personal Communications sessions (PC5250) to connect to your IBM i partitions. This week, I'll look at two of these features--setting a default path for PC5250 configuration files; and storing PC5250 window and font information--that can be useful for IBM i administrators trying to provide better control over their user installs.
For this article, I'll discuss two valuable PC5250 configuration parameters that are available with IBM i Access for Windows 7.1. These features are configured through the IBM i Access for Windows Properties screen, which is accessed through the IBM i Access for Windows folder on a Windows 7 machine. You can view and update these features by selecting the PC5250 tab off the properties screen, as shown here.
(Click graphic to enlarge.)
Today, I'll look at the following parameters that can be set from the screen shown above.
- Specifying a default emulator file path for PC5250 configuration files.
- Specifying where PC5250 session windows size, windows position, and font position information is stored.
Let's get started.
Setting A Configurable Path For PC5250 Emulator Files
Starting with System i Access for Windows 6.1, IBM allowed users and IBM i administrators to specify their own default path for PC5250 configuration files (.ws files), keyboard files (.kbd), macro files (.mac), and other PC5250 support files. Prior to 6.1, PC5250 configuration files were usually stored in the System i Access for Windows installation path\Emulator\Private folder. Because System i Access for Windows was installed under the Program Files folder, this location created a problem for users who weren't administrators on their Windows machine. Non-admin users weren't able to save changes to their workstation session profiles so they were either stuck with their session profiles the way they were delivered or they had to request help if they wanted to make any changes.
IBM changed this default location starting with System i Access for Windows 6.1 and above. As shown on this IBM i Access for Windows 7.1 properties screen, there's an option called "Path to PC5250 emulator files" under the PC5250 tab that allows you to change your emulator files path.
(Click graphic to enlarge.)
The "Path to PC5250 emulator files" section allows you to specify one of the following paths for storing your PC5250 support files.
All Users Application Data--Using this option stores the files in the %ALLUSERSPROFILE%\IBM\Client Access\emulator\private folder. %ALLUSERSPROFILE% is a Windows environment variable that expands to designate the full path to the Windows All Users profile directory. The All Users profile directory contains the settings and resources that are used by all systems accounts on the machine, so it's a good place to store PC5250 data for machines that have more than one user.
You can type the following string in on a Windows command screen (CMD) to see the %ALLUSERSPROFILE% value on a Windows 7 PC.
%ALLUSERSPROFILE% is the default location for the Path to PC5250 emulator files parameter.
My Application Data--This option stores the files in the Application Data path for the logged in user, as defined in the %AppData% Windows system path variable. My Application Data can be a good choice for machines that are primarily used by a single user, rather than shared by several users.
You can view the %AppData% system path variable by running the following string in a Windows command screen.
User Specified Path--Use this variable if you want to define a specific folder that is accessible by your PC5250 users. Clicking on this option allows you to browse your Windows computer settings to designate the PC5250 files location. This can come in handy if you want to store PC5250 files on a network drive rather on a local drive, as you can designate any location that can be reached by a signed on user.
You should also note that any changes made to the "Path for PC5250 emulator files" screen only apply to the currently logged on user. To change this path for all users on a particular Windows screen, run the following CWBCFG command. Note that this command must be run by a machine administrator to take effect.
CWBCFG /pc5250path pathname
For pathname, you can either put in a fully qualified path name (i.e., C:\IBMIACESS) or a path identifier for the folder where PC5250 will store and look for the emulator files it needs. CWBCFG will use this base path location PLUS the \IBM\Client Access\emulator\private path to construct the full path name for your PC5250 emulator files. Some examples of using CWBCFG to create your emulator path include:
CWBCFG /pc5250path *MYDOCUMENTS--Uses each users' My Documents folder as the base path for storing the emulator files.
- CWBCFG /pc5250path *INSTALL--Uses the IBM i Access installation folder as the base path.
- CWBCFG /pc5250path %AppData%--Uses the My Application data folder as the base path.
- CWBCCFG /pc5250path %ALLUSERSPROFILE%--Uses the All Users profile directory as the base path.
Using CWBCFG will change the "Path to PC5250 emulator files" setting for all machine users on the IBM i Access for Windows Properties screen. CWBCFG will activate the User Specified Path radio button on the Properties screen and insert the designated value into the path name.
Storing PC5250 Session Windows Size, Position, And Font Information
Another interesting PC5250 configuration setting is the PC5250 window size/position/font information check box. Located at the bottom of the PC5250 tab in the IBM i Access for Windows Properties screen, this feature allows you to designate where any changes the user makes in a PC5250 session's window size, windows position, or fonts are stored for later use.
(Click graphic to enlarge.)
The key in using this parameter is to specify whether your changes to PC5250 size and appearance parameters are local or global for all sessions started from this PC. Here's how each choice affects the way these parameters are stored and how your PC5250 sessions will appear.
- When the Store in session profile file (*.ws) check box is unchecked, PC5250 will store these session parameters in the PCSWIN.INI file. PCSWIN.INI contains configuration settings that are used in all PC5250 sessions. Changes saved to PCSWIN.INI are saved to all PC5250 sessions that you run on this machine. So if you uncheck this box and use PC5250 to start sessions on five different IBM i partitions, each session will use the same window size, window position, and font size. When unchecked, PC5250 will keep these values consistent between different PC5250 sessions.
- When the Store in session profile file (*.ws) check box is checked, PC5250 will store separate window size, window position, and window font style and size information in the PC5250 workstation configuration file (*.ws) for each separate session file that is started. So you would check this box when you want to use a different window size, position, or font for different PC5250 sessions. You can size the windows differently or use a different default font based on which session is currently active. Checking the Store in sessions profile file (*.ws) check box allows you to assign different presentation values to different PC5250 session files (*.ws).
Taken together, these two parameters can help IBM i administrators better manage PC5250 user setups and make it easier for a user to access their IBM i sessions. They can be particularly valuable to know when you are preparing to roll out Windows 7 desktop upgrades to your user community.
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Joe Hertvik is the owner of Hertvik Business Services, a service company that provides written marketing content and presentation services for the computer industry, including white papers, case studies, and other marketing material. Email Joe for a free quote for any upcoming projects. He also runs a data center for two companies outside Chicago. Joe is a contributing editor for IT Jungle and has written the Admin Alert column since 2002.
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