Profound Gets A Handle On Subfiles In Screen Scraper
May 6, 2015 Alex Woodie
When it comes to IBM i application modernization, subfile programs can present a dilemma. If you’re going the whole-hog route and getting rid of all 5250 and DDS underpinnings, you can convert subfiles into modern tables or grids. But what if you’re aiming for just a quick Web-enablement with screen-scraping tools? Keeping track of shifty subfiles here can be a challenge, but Profound Logic recently tackled the issue in an update to Genie.
Genie is Profound’s fast and easy Web-enablement tool for 5250 interfaces. The company is not shy about calling Genie a screen scraper, which is exactly what it is. For some IBM i shops, a screen scraper serves a very useful purpose. And for those who are ready to step up and invest in a more advanced modernization tool, the Profound UI, which uses IBM‘s Rational Open Access: RPG Edition technology to completely remove 5250 and DDS from an application, more than fits the bill.
But back to Genie and screen-scraping. One of the well-known challenges in scraping 5250 screens is accurately rendering any subfiles on those screens. Because of the way screen-scrapers like Genie work, getting the subfiles registered in the screen-scraper can be a hit-or-miss affair. Having multiple subfiles on the same screen can also pose a challenge.
Profound addressed these challenges in the latest release of Profound UI, which includes the Genie screen-scraper. With Profound UI version 5.5, unveiled at last week’s COMMON conference at Disneyland, the company has added an RPG Open Access handler for the Genie module.
Subfiles are the main target of the RPG Open Access handler for Genie. According to Profound, the handler solves some of the subfile issues by reporting the exact location and attributes of subfiles that appear on the 5250 screen, thereby eliminating the need to use trial and error to find something that works.
The new handler also brings more advanced features to modernized subfiles, such as record scrolling, record sorting, and the capability to export data to Excel. And you can say good-bye to screen-scrapers getting confused by multiple subfiles: the Genie handler can automatically detect if there are two subfiles on the screen at the same time.
The new Genie handler isn’t going to eliminate the need for more advanced modernization features in Profound UI, which is the path toward complete application modernization, says Profound Logic CEO Alex Roytman.
“RPG Open Access was a great breakthrough for IBM i applications, and the Profound UI RPG OA Handler with conversion to Rich Display Files is still the best and truest path to modernization available on the market today,” Roytman says in a press release. “The Genie Handler is a great option for companies who want to start experiencing the benefits of RPG OA, but aren’t 100 percent ready for display file conversion with Profound UI.”
“These widgets will give users the ability to create real-time data dashboards, multi-level charts, and interactive geographical maps, to name a few,” says David Russo, the lead developer for Profound UI.
Last but not least, Profound is improving its support for PHP with JumpStart, the application generator that it added to Profound UI last November. The component uses standard templates to generate the PHP or RPG code for basic applications, such as subfile listing, data entry, or lookups. Because it’s running within Profound UI, it outputs Rich Display Files for Web and mobile user interfaces.
With version 5.5, JumpStart can now generate code in a basic model-view-controller (MVC) framework. Having an MVC framework helps “developers to understand and provides better structuring of the generated code,” Roytman says.