Admin Alert: Creating More Distinctive PC5250 Window Titles
June 28, 2006 Joe Hertvik
While working in multi-partition System i5 environments, many people open several PC5250 sessions at one time. But because PC5250 default Window titles aren’t very descriptive (Session A, Session B, etc), it isn’t always easy for users to determine which open session they want to ALT-tab to. Similar session names also make it harder to choose which session to open from the Windows taskbar. Fortunately, PC5250 has a solution for creating more distinctive PC5250 Window title descriptions.
Window title bar descriptions are single line descriptions of a Windows application that are found in the top region of an open application window. They are referenced when using the ALT-Tab key combination to page through and choose which open Windows application a user wants to transfer to, and they are also displayed in the application buttons on the Windows taskbar.
The secret to making PC5250 Window title bar descriptions more meaningful lies in each session’s Window Setup preferences, which can be reached by the selecting Edit, Preferences, Appearance, and Window Setup options from the PC5250 menu bar. Inside the Window Setup menu, you can select and enter a number of items into the Window title bar to create a more descriptive and easy to understand application description for your session.
The nice thing about PC5250 Window title bar modification is that it is an interactive process. You can select one, several, or even all of the available options to display in the title bar area. Each title option is turned on or turned off by a check box in the PC5250 Window Setup menu, and each change is automatically posted to the session’s Window title bar so that you can immediately see the effects of your changes.
Three PC5250 Window title bar options are selected by default for each PC5250 session. These options are:
Taken together, these three boring default Window title bar elements produce equally boring title bar descriptions, including these classic blockbusters:
Session A – [24 x 80]
None of these title bar names make for really descriptive session names that the users can rely on to easily Alt-Tab to another PC5250 session or to select a specific session from the Windows taskbar.
As a result, many people may want to juice up their PC5250 title bar descriptions to make them more, well, descriptive by using some of the other options IBM offers. Here are some of the other Window title bar options IBM offers and their relative worth or worthlessness in uniquely identifying a PC5250 session name for a user to transfer into and out of.
Short Session-ID: For identification purposes, Short Session-ID is a relatively worthless option that adds just the one character session designator (A, B, C, etc) to the Window title bar. So if you check this option in addition to the defaults options above, you would automatically see your PC5250 Window title bar change to something like the following:
Session A -A – [24 x 80]
Short Session IDs don’t add anything valuable to your PC5250 title bar, and they can even make your title bar descriptions more boring or worthless than the defaults, but you may be more interested in the next check box option.
Session Name check box and the Session Name input box: When the Session Name check box is turned on (checked), the literal in the Session Name input box is added to the Window title bar for the session. So if you check this box and entered ‘Joe Partition 1’ in the Session Name input box, your new Window title bar might read like this:
Session A – Joe Partition 1 – [24 x 80]
Creating and using a unique Session Name in your title bar can uniquely identify a PC5250 session on your desktop and make it easier for your users to switch to that session when they may have several PC5250 and other Windows applications open. To create an even clearer description, you might want to drop your default Window title parameters and just use the Session Name as the only literal in your PC5250 title bar, like this:
Joe Partition 1
The weakness in using the Session Name as your title is that the Session Name input box is limited to 16 characters, so you have to make your descriptions fairly short, sweet, and relevant for your users.
While the Session Name is probably the most valuable option in creating a clearer Window title for your users, the final three PC5250 Window title options can also be used to add title bar information that might be more valuable to a systems administrator or a technician who is working on a PC5250 configuration.
Session Profile: This checkbox adds the current PC5250 workstation profile file name (.ws file) to the Window title bar. So if you check the Session Profile option inside a session that was launched from the partition1.ws workstation profile file, your Window title bar would look like this:
Session A – partition1.ws – [24 x 80]
Unfortunately, the Session Profile option is only valuable in the Window title bar if you took the trouble to give your session profile file name a descriptive name in the first place. And providing a descriptive name to a .ws file could be even more difficult than entering a descriptive name in the 16 characters of the Session Name field.
Session API Status: This checkbox option provides a visual indication of who is using the session. When checked, this option will add the word ‘USER’ to the title bar if the session is being used as a standard 5250 terminal session; if the session is using an application that takes advantage of the PC5250 Emulation DDE Interface, the literal ‘DDE’ will be added to the Window title bar. You would probably only activate this check box under certain specialized situations.
5250 Workstation ID: Once activated, this checkbox will display the i5/OS session device ID name inside the Window title bar. Outside of a system administrator troubleshooting the machine, there may not be much practical application for adding this information to the title bar.
So your best bet for customizing PC5250 title bars to provide meaningful information about your session is to either add a Session Name or Session Profile name to the title bar. These are the options that will most likely provide a Windows user with more information about which PC5250 session they want to transfer to, when several sessions are open.
In addition, the PC5250 Window Setup menu also allows you to change the icon associated with the session, so that you can provide different iconic pictures for each session. Different icons can also help make it easier for the user to select and enter different sessions.