Presto Change-O: BCD Unveils New Modernization Tricks
November 5, 2013 Alex Woodie
It’s an IT truism that the easier and more intuitive one makes a user interface, then the more likely users will be to actually use them. This was the big problem with the first generation of screen scrapers, which created awful looking screens that didn’t work much better than the green screens they replaced. The new generation of 5250 screen converters, such as the Presto offering from Business Computer Design Int’l., are heads above what was possible a decade ago.
With the newly released Presto 5.0, BCD has added several new features that will make the resulting screens prettier, easier to use, and more functional, too. For starters, it has spiffed up the skins it uses to generate the HTML screens.
“It’s a much fresher look. We’re using larger, better fonts, and more standard Web design guidelines,” says BCD product manager Marcel Sarrasin. “The first appearance is critical for everybody. This will help them [IBM i developers] sell it internally.”
Presto 5’s new macro functionality–used for the purpose of making navigation easier and faster–should also garner an IBM i admin a bunch of smiley faces from his happy users.
Applications that have been Presto-ized still use the underlying menu-based IBM i navigation system, just like the green screen that’s still running under the covers. That means users often navigate an app by pressing function keys, which allows them to move from, say, the sign-on screen to product maintenance screen.
By recording those function key keystrokes and then replaying them at the right time, Presto users can easily move from one application screen to another. “What macros do improve how people get to a screen without having to change the underlying green screen integration,” Sarrasin says.
Once a macro has been created, a developer can put it on the screen in a couple of different ways. For starters, the developer can take some text, such as “go to main menu,” and make it work like a hyperlink. Or they can choose one of the many lovely icons that BCD ships with Presto 5, and turn it into an intuitive button that appears on the screen.
Developers interact with the skins, the JQuery widgets, and the macros from the Visual Editor, which is where BCD has been focusing much of its effort over the last few releases. BCD has added more visual elements to the Visual Editor with version 5, especially around Google Maps.
With Presto 5, BCD is giving developers the capability to automatically generate a Google Map directly on the Presto screen. “You can hard-code the location of the map in the properties window. But most people will take information from their screen, drag that to the map location property… and the map will be dynamically updated with whatever information is grabbed from that screen,” Sarrasin says.
This release also gets support for Kerberos, the security authentication protocol that’s often used for enabling single sign-on among multiple applications and platforms. BCD doesn’t get a lot of requests for Kerberos support, but it did get a string of them recently from its IBM i customers, so it decided to do something about it, Sarrasin says.
Presto 5.0 is available now. Pricing is based on the processing tier and the number of users, and starts at $3,275 for an entry-level setup. For more information see www.bcdsoftware.com.