BCD Bolsters RPG OA Support in Presto 6
February 4, 2015 Alex Woodie
BCD Software has been supporting the RPG Open Access technology in its Presto modernization tool for less than a year, and it’s safe to say that most Presto customers are still using the traditional 5250 access method. But the software vendor is moving strongly to cement its capabilities in the RPG Open Access arena with some slick new features in Presto 6, which was just released.
The first five versions of Presto worked directly (and exclusively) upon the 5250 data stream. The 5250 would come out of the IBM i application, and Presto! They would be instantly converted into HTML and served up fresh from IBM i’s trusty Apache Web server.
Last year BCD added a twist to this reliable recipe. Instead of relying soley on the 5250 datastream, the company decided to also support IBM‘s RPG OA technology with the launch of Presto 5.5. It was the easiest way to support a much-desired feature: scrollable grids with sortable columns.
With last month’s release of Presto 6.0, BCD has bolstered its RPG OA support with several key features. BCD’s director of corporate marketing Marcel Sarrasin explained the significance during a Webinar on Presto 6 last week.
“In the original version of Presto that supported OA, we were just grabbing the field information as your starting point and then you used the Visual Editor to add all the other information and position everything correctly,” he said.
With version 6, the company has refined its RPG OA support to include more information about the screens, including function keys and input field labels. The new release of Presto also supports “absolute positioning,” meaning that the modernized IBM i screens appear in the same spot as your green screens. Any fields that were hidden in the 5250 screen will also remain hidden in the screens modernized with Presto’s RPG OA hander.
“This now is the out-of-the-box experience,” Sarrasin said. “We are automatically grabbing the information out of the display file, such as function keys. â€¦ So all of your text constants are brought into your screen â€¦ and everything is positioned as it was on the green screen as well.”
Presto’s formatting options left something to be desired in previous releases, particularly when it came to the positioning of radio buttons and the appearance of calendars. With Presto 6, BCD has given developers much more flexibility in how they appear. Radio buttons can now be stacked vertically as well as side by side, while the calendar widget can be customized to allow the user to easily set the year, eliminating a slightly tedious year-selection process.
Presto 6 also brings some enhancements in the field of change management. In releases prior to 5.6, it was up to programmers to coral any changes or customizations that they wanted to track.
With the recent releases, the software does much more of that automatically. “What we now have in Presto is screen-by-screen change management,” Sarrasin said. “It captures all screens and customizations into XML files.” It also supports the capability to export and import SQL queries and macros.
A new “global identities” screen identification feature will also help large modernization efforts involving many hundreds of screens. Instead of requiring the developer to manually track each screen, the software does it for you (are you detecting a theme here?)
“It’s a big time saver,” Sarrasin said. “It means you don’t have to go into each screen and uniquely identify them, or go into RPG to identity them.” The algorithm will uniquely identify the vast majority of customers’ screens. The tool brings other rules for some of the tough-to-detect screens, such as those that are labeled with a time or a date.
“We’ve had this algorithm in Presto since day one,” Sarrassin says. “The difference now is with our new global identites we can better handle the outliers, the rare screens with completely different layouts.”
There are a number of other minor new features in Presto 6.0, including Support for CF## function key indicators with RPG OA; support for the “new line” key; the capability to configure the subfile detection module; and the capability to allow variable function key search start location.
BCD has already begun developing the next release of Presto, which we can expect in about three months. More improvements to the Visual Editor are in the forecast.
Editor’s Note: This article was corrected. The new release of Presto will ship in three months, not three week. IT Jungle regrets the error.