Admin Alert: Readers Pimp Joe’s Font, Win No-Prize
November 12, 2008 Joe Hertvik
On behalf of Admin Alert reader Jean-Pierre, I recently challenged my readers to a contest to pimp my PC5250 font size in a consistent and validly cool manner. A number of readers responded and they solved Jean-Pierre’s problem, winning themselves no-prizes in the bargain. Here’s how our most recent challenge came about and how it was solved.
The Making of a Pimp Contest
Jean-Pierre wanted to change the default font size on his PC5250 sessions, but he couldn’t make the change stick. He was able to change and save the font size on his first session, but every time he started a new session with the same PC5250 icon, the session’s font size reverted back to the default font.
I was able to duplicate his problem, but I couldn’t solve it. While you can change a session’s default font size by selecting Edit→Appearance→Font from the PC5250 menu bar, the change will not stick when opening a second session (see my prior column for details on how to change the default font size).
Unable to solve the problem, I tossed the issue out to our Admin Alert readers, offering them a Marvel comics-inspired No-Prize if they solved the issue. Here’s how my reader brain trust solved the problem.
PCSWIN.INI: The Key To the Problem
The first clue came from reader R. Phillips, who sent me the following missive:
The problem is your PCSWIN.INI file. The [LastExitView] Area in that file retains settings for your PC5250 sessions.
I knew about PCSWIN.INI but I didn’t really understand what it did regarding font sizes. An email from Ray Martin helped me understand how it worked.
You may notice that when you start a new session of IBM iSeries Access, the session identifier is labeled with a letter at the end of the job name. The first started session ends with an A, the second started session ends with a B, and so on. It makes no difference what host server your PC is connected to. The sessions are always labeled A, B ,C, etc. in order of their startup.
So if I configure my PC5250 configuration to use unique device names starting with the literal ‘JOE’, the first session will be called ‘JOEA’, the second session will be called ‘JOEB’, the third ‘JOEC’, and so on.
Ray went on to explain that the PCSWIN.INI file is stored under the iSeries Access emulator directory. On a typical PC, you can find it in the Program FilesIBMClient AccessEmulatorPrivate folder. In the [LastExitView] section, PCSWIN.INI contains lines for each session instance indicating the default font typefaces it will use for its session IDs, as shown here:
[LastExitView] A=3 156 1123 968 604 3 12 20 400 1 Courier New- 37 B=3 61 1087 968 604 3 12 20 400 0 Courier New- 37 D=3 12 1120 888 604 3 11 20 400 0 IBM3270- 37 C=3 188 254 888 604 3 11 20 400 0 IBM3270- 37
The session identifiers are automatically added to your device names when you use the Configure PC5250 screen for configuring your session or when you open a new session. The Configure PC5250 screen is accessed by selecting Communications→Configure from the PC5250 menu bar, and you perform the following steps to add unique identifiers to your session device names.
1. Select a unique name for your session. This is done by selecting one of the following radio buttons in the Workstation ID area of the Configure PC5250 screen:
If you select Specify workstation ID, you must also enter a device session name in the input box under that radio button. If you don’t enter a session name, PC5250 will use a virtual device description name for each session (a QPADEVxxxx session name). According to reader Carl H. Morley, virtual device names have no configurations to save and you can’t change the default font size settings for a virtual device.
2. Make sure the Avoid Duplicate Names check box is checked. When you choose this selection, it automatically adds the session identifier (A, B, C, D, etc.) to your device name. Without this identifier, PC5250 cannot save default size changes for your sessions.
For more information on using the Configure PC5250 screen, see Five Things to Do While Installing Client Access.
I opened the PCSWIN.INI on my machine and it looked exactly the way that Ray described it. I now knew where PC5250 stored its default font settings but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that information. How could Jean-Pierre and I manipulate the PCSWIN.INI settings to always provide my users with the proper default font sizes for each session?
Two Solutions Diverged In a Yellow Wood
Fortunately, two readers emailed me with solutions that worked. First, Daron Whitehouse wrote in with this advice for setting default font sizes for multiple sessions.
I opened subsequent windows and changed the font size, and then saved my changes by using File→Save from the PC5250 menu bar. This adds the selected font into the PCSWIN.INI file according to its session ID (A, B, C, etc.).
I tried this on a test machine and all of my modified sessions (A, B, C) now start with the changed font. Here’s what my PCSWIN.INI file looked like after I finished the process.
[LastExitView] A=3 22 29 728 517 3 9 16 400 1 Courier New- 37 B=3 254 256 728 517 3 9 16 400 3 Courier New- 37 C=3 66 87 808 542 3 10 17 400 1 Courier New- 37
This is a good solution if you’re interested in changing the default fonts on one machine, but it can get tedious if you want to change fonts on multiple machines.
The final solution came when C.N. Tucker suggested another easy solution, editing the PCSWIN.INI file by hand to put in the desired font sizes for each session ID. Doing this, you can set up a default PCSWIN.INI file that can be copied to several different machines as you’re installing or modifying a PC5250 configuration.
My default configuration PCSWIN.INI file looked like this:
[LastExitView] A=4 22 29 648 517 3 13 26 400 1 Courier New- 37 B=4 254 256 728 517 3 13 26 400 3 Courier New- 37 C=3 66 87 808 542 3 10 17 400 1 Courier New- 37 D=3 66 87 808 542 3 10 17 400 1 Courier New- 37 E=3 66 87 808 542 3 10 17 400 1 Courier New- 37 F=3 66 87 808 542 3 10 17 400 1 Courier New- 37 G=3 66 87 808 542 3 10 17 400 1 Courier New- 37 H=3 66 87 808 542 3 10 17 400 1 Courier New- 37 I=3 66 87 808 542 3 10 17 400 1 Courier New- 37
By copying this file onto user machines, they can open up to nine PC5250 sessions that use Courier New as their default font. If you want to edit the sessions for a different font, you can find the line syntax by changing that font on an existing PC5250 session and then copying it from the entry that PC5250 automatically adds to your PCSWIN.INI file.
This technique also worked very well.
Pimp Font Roll Call
I want to thank and congratulate the following readers who wrote in and helped us solve this issue. Your no-prizes are securely tucked into no boxes (the big sturdy kind that can take a lot of abuse) and they will be whisking their way to your home in no time. I appreciate your contributions, and both Jean-Pierre and I thank you for your help.
About Our Testing Environment
Configurations described in this article were tested using the PC5250 program that is included with iSeries Access for Windows V5R4. Many of the features are also available in earlier versions of PC5250. However, you may notice some variations in the pre-V5R4 implementation of these features. These differences may be due to software improvements that have occurred from release to release.