Inovis Boosts Productivity for Green-Screen Customers
November 3, 2009 Alex Woodie
In the world of AS/400 (Power Systems) computing, there is a constant battle between the 5250 diehards who love their green-screen interfaces, and the graphical types who feel that every computer should look and feel like Windows. EDI software developer Inovis recently proved that it’s not beholden to either camp, but answerable only to its customers, when it launched a new release of TrustedLink IBM i edition (TLi) that allows the green-screen types to avoid traversing at least one GUI to get where they’re going.
Like many ISVs, Inovis has been forced, either through feedback from its user base or competitive pressures, to offer two user interfaces for its EDI software: a text-based green screen, used by key-pounding power users and old fogies who refuse to change, and a graphical Windows client for Windows bigots and recent hires who have never seen a DOS screen in their short lives. And like many ISVs in the midrange space, Inovis has partnered with Seagull Software to provide modernization tools that magically turn 5250 interfaces into Windows-like screens.
While the company did its best to appease both camps of users, it hadn’t entirely sandboxed one group from the other. According to an illuminating blog posting by one of Inovis’ support staff, the problem had to do with the fact that 5250 types had to launch a separate session using TLi’s graphical client in order to access the Visual Mapper component. (Apparently, even 5250 types prefer to map EDI interfaces in a GUI instead of a green screen, which shows they’re not completely immune to progress.)
Inovis realized this was short of ideal. “I recognize how it can be slightly annoying to be in a green-screen session and then have to sign onto a brand new GUI session to start the Visual Mapper,” wrote Inovis’ Ross Fetterman, a tech support specialist, in the Inovis blog.
Inovis addressed the shortcoming last month with a new tool in TLi version 6.3 called the Visual Mapper Launcher. According to Inovis, the launcher allows users to create desktop shortcuts that can be used to launch the Visual Mapper application directly from a 5250 session, without having to launch a new GUI session.
According to Fetterman, this tool is great for organizations that have multiple versions of TLi, that have TLi on more than one server, that commonly go between production and test environments, or that have “diehard green-screen fans that feel angst against the GUI.” Also, as a side benefit, customers won’t have to keep the Seagull License Manager server running all the time, since users won’t be going into the GUI client to launch the Visual Mapper.
The informative Inovis blog also brings us news of one other big enhancement in TLi, which shipped in August, and which wasn’t formally announced by the company. (After all, why pay an expensive PR firm to highlight announcements when your tech support staff can blog about what they deal with everyday.)
According to a blog post by Inovis senior manager of tech support Gwyn Madsen, TLi 6.3 also brings a new concurrent purge functionality that allows users to purge old EDI libraries while other TLi processes continue to run, and without taking the product offline. “It’s like changing the oil in your car while the engine is still running,” Madsen says.
Combined with the new Archive Center launched with TLi 6.2, the new concurrent purge function should give Inovis customers all the tools they need to avoid seeing the message ‘maximum numbers of objects reached.’ “Devote a little time to setting up the concurrent purge,” Madsen writes. “I surely wouldn’t want to neglect the engine powering my business and neither should you.” For more information about Inovis, visit blogs.inovis.com.