Admin Alert: PC5250 Session Files–Where to Find Them, Where to Store Them
July 19, 2006 Joe Hertvik
One big pain in configuring iSeries Access for Windows PC5250 sessions is determining where to store your session files and how to create shortcuts so that your users can easily locate and launch their 5250 sessions. Like many things in the computer world, however, session file management is not as clear cut as it should be. But there are a few simple tricks for simplifying the process on a Windows desktop.
What Are PC5250 Session Files?
As you probably know, PC5250 session files are executable Windows files created by using the PC5250 emulation program in IBM‘s iSeries Access for Windows program (iSeries Access, formerly known as Client Access Express for Windows). Once configured, opening the file creates a 5250 Telnet session to the AS/400, iSeries, or i5 box specified in its configuration. Using the Start or Configure Session utility that comes with iSeries Access, you can create PC5250 display session files or printer session files that redirect i5/OS spooled file output to Windows or networked printers.
In this article, I will discuss some techniques for designating where your PC5250 session files are stored and how you can create shortcuts to these files on a Windows desktop. Before I continue, please note that this article was created and tested using IBM’s iSeries Access for Windows V5R3M0 program connecting to an i5/OS V5R3 machine. Most of the configurations shown here will work in other versions of the OS/400 and i5/OS operating systems, but you may notice some differences if you are using different releases.
Storing PC5250 Session Files
PC5250 session files are stored as .WS files on your PC, and they contain all the configuration information–including the host name or IP address of your target i5/OS box, the device naming format for your session, and some connection parameters–that is needed to start a 5250 session on an i5/OS or OS/400 machine. By default, all .WS files are automatically saved to the ‘Emulatorprivate’ directory that is located under the iSeries Access installation directory. So if you installed iSeries Access to the following directory on your PC’s hard drive:
C:Program FilesIBMClient Access
Then the .WS files that you create for your PC5250 sessions would automatically be stored in this directory:
C:Program FilesIBMClient AccessEmulatorprivate
Depending on what directory name and location you chose for your installation, the default path may be slightly different for your Windows PC, but the .WS files will always be stored in ‘Emulatorprivate’ under that default installation folder. iSeries Access also offers an option to change the default storage location for your .WS files after you finish the installation, and I’ll discuss that feature in the next section.
Some Ways to Create Session Shortcuts
The default location for storing PC5250 session files is functional, but this setup creates a pain when you want to add a shortcut for launching sessions on your user desktops. The slow way to create a shortcut for an existing PC5250 session is to use My Computer or Search to navigate to your .WS file, right-click on the file, create a shortcut to the file, and then drag that shortcut to your desktop. But that’s too much work for my tastes.
An easier way to create a desktop icon for a PC5250 session is to go to the Windows Start button right after starting your session and click on the My Recent Documents option (or Documents in some earlier versions of Windows). True to its name, My Recent Documents shows the most recent documents that you opened on your Windows desktop, including any .WS files that you just created or accessed. To create a desktop shortcut for your session, highlight its .WS file, right-click on it, and select the Send To –> Desktop (create shortcut) option off the pop-up menu that appears. This is a much quicker way to create a shortcut to your PC5250 session, but it’s still not the quickest way.
A quicker way to create a desktop .WS shortcut is to set up your PC5250 sessions so that the .WS file itself is stored directly on your Windows user desktop after creation. Since the Windows desktop is simply another folder in Windows, if you store your .WS files there, they will automatically appear on the desktop for execution without even needing to create a shortcut. Here’s how you perform this trick by changing the default location where PC5250 .WS files are stored.
1. The default location for .WS files is listed in the computer’s iSeries Access for Windows Properties, which can be accessed by clicking on the iSeries Access for Windows icon in the Control Panel.
2. The iSeries Access for Windows Properties panel that appears contains a number of tabs for viewing and changing your PC’s iSeries Access properties. To view and change PC5250 properties, click on the PC5250 tab.
3. The PC5250 tab contains the Radio Buttons that you use for designating the Path to PC5250 Emulator Files. By default, the iSeries Access Installation Directory button is turned on, which automatically saves the files to the ‘Emulatorprivate’ directory listed above. However, you can change this path to another location by clicking on the Use specified path radio button on this screen and then browsing to your computer’s Windows desktop directory. If I wanted to store my session files on the default Windows desktop that is specified for all users on my Windows 2000 computer, for example, I would change the location to:
C:DOCUMENTS AND SETTINGSALL USERSDESKTOP
By doing this, PC5250 would save its .WS files to the default desktop folder and any user that started this computer would see that file on their Windows desktop. If I only wanted to store my files in the desktop folder for one individual user, I could also store them in that particular user’s Windows desktop folder, which, for Windows 2000, would have the following location:
C:Documents and Settingsuser_nameDesktop
The advantage to setting up your default location this way is that it automatically saves files to the Windows desktop folder for execution without having to think about creating a shortcut. But it’s still not the quickest way to add a PC5250 session file to the desktop.
The quickest way to automatically save your .WS file to a Windows desktop occurs after you create a PC5250 session and go to save it to the PC’s hard drive or to a network location. If you create your session inside PC5250 and then click on either the File->Save or File->Save As option from the menu bar, you will see five icons that represent different places where you can save your newly created .WS file. If you click on one of these icons as you save your PC5250 .WS file, the file will be saved to one of the following places.
Not So Tricky After All
As you can see, there are not a lot of issues preventing you from easily storing your .WS files in locations that make it easy for your user to launch a PC5250 session. Once you know a few of the configuration tricks involved, the process is fairly easy.