Customized Green Screens Key to BCD’s Web Enablement
May 10, 2011 Dan Burger
If you’re an application developer on a project that involves converting RPG and/or COBOL green-screen apps to Web pages, you hate being handcuffed with limited screen customization choices. When Business Computer Design (BCD) introduced its Presto software in October 2008, it realized a great many application modernization projects would sink or swim depending on the capabilities of its visual editor. Now in its third release, Presto continues its emphasis on screen customization and user-friendly interfaces.
The newest release of BCD Presto goes hand-in-hand with the announcement of the latest version of BCD’s Nexus Portal, where comparisons to the previous portal software show significant improvements in the areas of information access and security. Both products were announced at the COMMON 2011 Annual Meeting and Expo, which unfolded last week in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Presto Version 3
By a wide margin, people agree drop-down boxes make information easier to enter and easier to find. Visually, they beat the daylights out of green screens, and Presto took care of this feature from Day One. The difference now is that developers can skip the HTML coding. I doubt whether anyone will be disappointed. Less coding is directly proportional to more happiness.
There’s another difference that scores points in the productivity game. It’s a new component that BCD calls SQL Queries.
BCD dropped SQL Queries into version 3 because it allows existing applications to retrieve server data non-invasively. The benefit comes when using server data to create business logic that’s not included in the original programs. And the bigger benefit comes because this is accomplished without changes to the original application source code or program object. Not only can SQL Queries be used to create and store SQL statements used in Presto, but the SQL statements can include standard clauses such as JOIN, WHERE and GROUP BY, which are used in more sophisticated applications. It also allows the use of existing screen values in SQL statements.
SQL Queries can also be used along with the data from green screens to populate SmartCharts, BCD’s software for creating bar, pie, line, and other graphs. SmartCharts are integrated into other BCD Web development products, and was previously included with Presto, but the SQL component is new.
Overall navigation has been improved with features such as mouse wheel capabilities for scrolling through subfiles and the capability to individually set cursor options.
BCD has also tuned up its automatic panel detection, which handles screen recognition in real time and–in most cases–eliminates the need to manually identify screens.
Presto 3 is available as an upgrade to existing Presto users or in an evaluation mode to curious Web developers. It can be downloaded from the company’s Website.
Licensing options include a fixed price by tier, which has a specified number of concurrent seats for each tier, and an unlimited user licensing plan.
Nexus Portal Version 4
LDAP, a cross platform client server protocol, is used to store and authenticate user IDs and passwords. Nexus users can now use the same login profile as used for other LDAP-supported resources. This convenience avoids the management of separate LDAP and Nexus profiles.
Due primarily to the increasing popularity of Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, cross�]browser support has become a necessity, and although Nexus has supported those browsers in the past, BCD has added support for a handy site administration interface.
Password security with enhanced encryption handling and the capability to change IBM i user profile passwords from the Nexus login screen are also welcomed features in version 4 of Nexus. And not to be overlooked is the faster install time for configuring Nexus.
BCD offers Nexus Portal at no charge, but an annual maintenance fee contract is required to obtain a user license, which allows an unlimited number of users. The license includes the Enterprise Content Management, SmartCharts, and all other Nexus components.
Nexus runs on IBM i and, as BCD likes to point out, does not require the additional middleware some portals do.
Nexus Portal V4 is available for a 30-day evaluation at www.bcdsoftware.com.