Stay-Linked Enriches Wireless Emulation Suite
March 18, 2014 Alex Woodie
Running wireless environments in industrial surroundings, such as warehouses and distribution centers, is not as simple as it might seem. You won’t have any trouble checking your Twitter feed using the WiFi at your local Starbucks, but there are big hurdles to accessing 5250 host applications wirelessly over TCP/IP networks. A Southern California company by the name of Stay-Linked has a proven track record addressing this challenge.
Founded in 2002, Stay-Linked has developed a reputation among distributors and logistics firms for its capability to provide stable and secure connections to IBM i hosts from wireless RF devices, such as barcode scanning guns. Dropped sessions are a big problem in traditional RF environments, requiring workers to repeatedly log into their sessions to resume work, hurting productivity.
The Stay-Linked solution to this was simple. Instead of running the 5250 emulation session on the client device, run it directly on the host instead. And instead of using TCP over IP, use the UDP over IP protocol to communicate between the host and the client component that runs on the device. And instead of having a very chatty application using really big packets of data, keep the chatter to a bare minimum, and keep the packets under 512 bytes in size, ensuring they’re never broken up. These are the technical bases of Stay-Linked’s Client2Host communications protocol.
In January, the Tustin firm unveiled version 12 of its eponymous software, which brings various enhancements in the areas of screen formatting, logging, and usage tracking. The company also announced a partnership with a new hardware provider to enable its software to run on new RF devices.
Stay-Linked says the new screen recognition and screen reformatting functions will make it easier to enable information to be passed from device to host, and thereby extend the functionality of host systems without modifying the code. The company says its APIs can be accessed via “screen tap spots” and “key presses.”
Meanwhile, new row and column filters allow devices to be set up to take multiple actions on a single recognized screen and trigger events based on screen type and cursor location. This helps to reduce the number of screen definitions required and simplifies the management of the actions associated with each screen, the company says.
Smaller formatted screens will be automatically “up-scaled” so they display correctly on larger devices, thereby enabling organizations to support multiple device types with one format. The company says that it has waived the need for a dedicated “screen recognition” license with version 12.
New usage-tracking features will allow administrators to monitor who’s using the devices. Stay-Linked says its software allows access to data by user name, and thereby views their productivity. There’s also a new data export feature that will support offline and real-time reporting and analysis.
Finally, a new Telnet-proxy logging feature allows the Stay-Linked server to have visibility into a raw Telnet data stream. “This feature provides IT and application support personnel with rapid identification of issues for appropriate resolution with minimal downtime,” the company says.
These new features were all requested by users, says Stay-Linked president Gary Brewsaugh. “The end-user community has requested these enhancements and we are listening. The goal of the Stay-Linked way is to continuously reduce complexity while raising the level of usability and this latest version does exactly that,” he says.
Last month, Stay-Linked announced a partnership with DAP Technologies, a Tempe, Arizona, provider of handheld devices and mobile computers. The companies will work to pre-load the Stay-Linked software on several DAP tablets, including models M9010, M9700, and MT1010.
The companies say that working together simplifies support for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, and also simplifies client management by negating the need for version control.
Eric Miller, vice president of worldwide sales at DAP, says the companies already have mutual customers. “It is a natural extension to recognize our combined strength and formalize the relationship,” he says. “We like the fact that Stay-Linked software matches the attributes of our rugged devices to deliver an unmatched level of reliability in challenging environments.”