BCD Adds Digital Signatures to Modernization Tool
September 16, 2015 Dan Burger
For many members of the mobile workforce, capturing digital signatures are all in a day’s work. It was just a matter of figuring out how to efficiently and securely collect signatures that identify and authenticate electronic documents. Mobile signature capture is one of the new features BCD Software has added to its green-screen to GUI application modernization tool called Presto. If mobile apps are part of your IT plans, signature capture probably fits in as well.
Mobile access to modernized green-screen applications is improving business processes and customer service, says Marcel Sarrasin , who has helped make that happen for more than just a few IBM midrange shops. Sarrasin is VP of corporate marketing at Quadrant Software, the parent company of BCD.
The signature capture element in Presto’s latest release, version 6.2, is an HTML5-based component of BCD’s Visual Editor Palette. The tool enables users to write their signatures on tablets and smartphones. The signature is then saved as an image on the IBM i’s Integrated File System (IFS).
Digital signature captures eliminate paper documents created to capture a signature and are especially useful for highly regulated transactions such as mortgages, car loans, and insurance products.
Also notable in Presto 6.2 is an SQL feature that brings multiple benefits for programmers who use SQL queries to dynamically populate UI elements such as drop down boxes, auto completes, and charts with data from DB2. Those queries can now be accomplished with dynamic parameters and library list support. For convenience, the Presto Designer’s SQL query list now includes a preview button that runs queries and preview their results.
“Both features were a result of customer requests,” Sarrasin says. “The technology to implement these features wasn’t too challenging because we’ve done similar features in WebSmart (it has an SQL preview tool as well) and we’ve done signature capture in WebSmart applications as well. We just needed to get the UI right in our Presto designer to make it intuitive for programmers to add it to a screen from our palette in the visual editor. We’re also seeing more and more demand for mobile, and while it was possible to do the signature capture through custom HTML we wanted to make it easier for programmers to add without needing to code any HTML which we have now accomplished.”
Sarrasin says the SQL preview tool will be widely used by Presto customers.
“SQL Queries has always been one of the most used features in Presto,” he says. “Prior to the preview feature they could only see the result set from the SQL statement in UI element on the screen. Now with the preview tool they get to just see the result set and then decide if it’s what they want, so it speeds up the process of using the SQL Query feature.
BCD also added an SQL query preview feature to Presto 6.2. SQL queries are commonly used to dynamically populate drop down lists, autocompletes, and charts in Presto. The preview feature allows users to run queries and preview the results.
Additional enhancements that are part of the Presto 6.2 package include an API for interacting with OA field values; Table Editor support for 132-wide screens; subfile and menu link detection improvements; and a console view for displaying debug details in the IDE.
BCD’s Presto has been the key component in the software company’s application modernization offerings. IBM i shops appreciate its ease in quickly converting existing green screens to Web-based graphical user interfaces as well as its capability to develop new RPG programs a Web GUIs. The conversion process results in adding productivity enhancements such as drop down boxes, tabs, date-pickers, images, and charts to Web-enabled screens.
The speed with which this can be accomplished is attributable to not making changes to existing RPG (including RPG II through RPG IV), COBOL, or DDS source using the 5250 datastream approach. Making changes to the business logic clearly adds a higher degree of difficulty to application modernization and wide majority of IBM I shops are choosing not to go that route. And because proven code is left untouched, the green screen capability remains available to users who prefer them and are actually more productive using them.
The Web-enabled green screen apps that are created using Presto can be accessed by internal users or remotely from iPads, iPhones, and other tablets and smartphones. Among the benefits are that there is no requirement for using ActiveX, Windows Servers, WebSphere, 5250 emulators, or other software. Also on the list of benefits is the accurate claim that programmers without HTML experience are productive right away using the Visual Editor to enhance screens. That, however, is not the same as saying programmers with HTML experience are no better off than those who don’t. I have yet to talk with anyone familiar with Web application development who has dismissed the value of knowing HTML. Is it a requirement? No. Is it a benefit? Most definitely.
As BCD developed the product, it is worth noting 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 would be instantly converted into HTML.
With the launch of Presto 5.5 in 2014, BCD took a new approach by not only relying on the 5250 datastream, but also supporting IBM ‘s RPG Open Access technology. This brought a much-desired feature to the product: scrollable grids with sortable columns.
When the company introduced Presto version 6, the RPG OA support was enhanced to include information on function keys and input field labels. Presto version 6 also added support for “absolute positioning,” which means data on modernized IBM i screens appears in the screen location as it appears on the green-screen applications. That also applies to fields that were hidden in the 5250 screen. Those fields will also remain hidden in the screens modernized with Presto.
Presto is available as a standalone solution or as part of BCD’s modernization suite that includes WebSmart (new web app development), Clover Query (web-based reports), Catapult (report distribution) and Nexus Portal.