Keep Your Hands on the Keyboard with RSE
October 1, 2008 Susan Gantner
Last year, I wrote up a tip with a list of some of my favorite keyboard shortcuts in Remote Systems Explorer (RSE). Later, a slightly longer list of my favorite shortcuts was published on our System i Developer Website as a downloadable list to print and pin up next to your workstation.
Even using all those shortcuts, there are still many, many things we need to do while working with RSE that would require using a mouse–unless you know a few more shortcuts. So here are a few that you may find useful for those occasions that you want to keep your hands off that mouse.
One thing that many of us who grew up with green screens forget is that we can use the cursor arrow keys (left, right, up, and down arrows typically on the bottom right side of the keyboard) for many things beyond simply moving your cursor. This is pretty basic and works in other Windows applications as well, but I find that many i programmers who may use this in Word or Excel don’t think to use it when editing source code.
For example, holding down the Shift key while pressing the arrow keys is often the easiest way to select bits of code, e.g., to delete, cut/copy/paste, or filter. Use Shift and the up or down arrows to select whole lines of code at a time, and the right or left arrows to select words or letters at a time. I find it’s usually much easier to select the specific code I want compared to using the mouse.
Now that you’ve got something selected, how do you do something with it? Quite often, the next thing you need to do involves a right mouse click to pop up the context menu. Did you know that using Shift-F10 pops up the same menu? Now, how do I navigate down the context menu items and enable submenus? Use those same arrow keys. Up or down arrows move between the menu items, right arrow opens a submenu, left arrow closes the submenu. You can close the entire context menu with the Esc key.
More ways to use those cursor arrow keys include expanding and contracting lists in the Remote System View. For example, expand a source file to see a list of its members with the right arrow key and the down (and/or up) arrows to go to a member. When you find the member, press Enter to open it or Shift-F10 to bring up the menu to copy, delete, rename, compile, etc. Later, return to the top of the member list (i.e., the source file name) with the left arrow key and/or close the member list (contract it) with another left arrow key at that point. Of course, member lists are just one example; the same things can be done to expand/contract/navigate through lists of objects or libraries.
Speaking of navigating through lists, for very large lists, using the arrow keys (or the mouse) can be cumbersome and slow. I am often asked how to do the equivalent of the “Position to” and “Position to type” fields at the top of a PDM screen. Did you know you can position to any item in a list simply by beginning to key the name? In the Remote Systems View, just begin keying the name of what you’re looking for and you will be positioned to the item or an item in the list (if there is one) that begins with the letter(s) you keyed. In the iSeries Table View (a.k.a., Object Table View in RDi) you can do the same thing except that it pops up a dialog box for you to fill in the name (or partial name) and you then press Enter to do the positioning.
Don’t forget, most of these navigation-type shortcuts I’ve described for use with RSE work in other Windows applications as well, so try them out in Windows Explorer and similar list-oriented interfaces you may work with. Experiment with new ways to navigate through your daily activities with RSE until you find just the right combination of keyboard versus mouse operations that work best for you.
Susan Gantner is one of the most respected System i gurus in the world and is one of the co-founders of System i Developer, an organization dedicated to RPG, DB2, and other relevant software technologies for the System i platform that hosts the new RPG & DB2 Summit conference. Gantner, who has worked in IBM’s Rochester and Toronto labs, left IBM to focus on training OS/400 and i5/OS shops on the latest programming technologies. She is also a regular speaker at COMMON and other user groups. Send your questions or comments for Susan to Ted Holt via the IT Jungle Contact page.