Profound Gives a Speed Boost to 5250 Screen Converter
September 15, 2009 Alex Woodie
Application modernization is a high priority at many System i shops these days, but few of them have the time or money for a head-to-toe makeover. That leaves tactical green-screen-to-Web modernization tools, such as Genie from Profound Logic, a decent option for those wanting to get moving quickly. Earlier this month, Profound unleashed an upgrade to the on-the-fly modernization tool that brings back-end performance enhancements, as well as new screen customization options on the front-end.
Profound unveiled Genie more than two years ago to provide i Power Systems, System i, iSeries, i5, and AS/400 shops with a quick way to Web-enable the 5250 screens of their RPG and COBOL applications. Genie is classified as an on-the-fly screen converter because it generates HTML in real-time by running DDS output through pre-configured templates (or “skins”), which eliminates the need for source code. The software runs natively on the i OS server and doesn’t consume interactive CPW.
Profound made several changes with the latest release of Genie, version 3.8 to boost the speed at which Genie transforms and delivers Web pages.
The biggest change was the addition of a cache to the user’s browser. By storing individual screen preferences and screen detection rules locally in a cache on the browser, Profound was able to boost the performance and lower response time. The cache will automatically update itself as needed, Profound says.
The Dayton, Ohio, company also added support for new constructs that tell Genie how to translate the DDS into graphical elements, such as menus, checkboxes, and buttons. This improvement allows Genie to more accurately interpret the incoming DDS and render an accurate Web page.
Several new APIs have been added that will make programmers’ lives easier and speed the customization process. (While Genie doesn’t require a programmer and can be implemented by non-IT staff using the WYSIWYG graphical screen designer, some of the more advanced functions require the skills of a programmer.)
Profound also tweaked Genie to deal with one of the “gotchas” experienced by nearly all attempts to render i OS data in a browser: the lost 5250 session.
“There are many users that simply close their browser windows without properly logging off,” says David Russo, project manager for Profound. “Now, Genie has the option to warn the user to sign off properly. It can also save and disconnect the session. When the user signs-on again, their previous session is automatically restored.”
Front End Enhancements
Profound has made several improvements to the visual design component of the product. For starters, developers can now edit the text associated with screen definition elements, such as the name of a button or a panel, directly from the WYSIWYG visual design component. To make changes previously, users had to open the “properties” window and hunt down the specific properties they wanted to change. Now, they just click the screen element to gain full control over the font size, alignment, and other properties.
This release also introduces property value highlighting in the visual design component (which lives in a Web browser, by the way). This makes it easier for developers to see which screen values have changed when they’re updating the template. It also allows developers to remove unneeded property values from the screen definition file, which boosts performance.