IBM i Mobile Apps Made Easy
November 18, 2015 Dan Burger
As the number of IBM midrange shops building mobile applications grows, the ideas about features and functionality expands. Rising to the top of that list for many companies is the usefulness of a bar code scanner in combination with IBM i-based applications. It’s a demand that BCD Software has noticed and it led to creation of Presto Mobile, an app for accessing modernized green screens from iPhones and iPads.
Accessibility to IBM i data is a basic requirement, but the added capability of using the built-in camera as a bar code scanner is the driving force behind Presto Mobile, according to Marcel Sarrasin, vice president of marketing at Quadrant Software, BCD’s parent company.
The majority of BCD customers need applications that run in a browser with bar code functionality, Sarrasin says. “It’s a technical need.”
Presto is a modernization tool that automatically transforms green screens into Web interfaces that can be accessed from any Web browser. It uses pre-defined “skins,” or templates, that modernize screens and streamline workflow. A Windows-based visual editor allows users to convert green screens to graphical presentations.
Although the app is only available for Apple devices at this time, it is pending approval from the Android app store and expected to be generally available within a few weeks.
Presto runs on IBM i. So connectivity is as simple as inputting the IBM i server’s IP address in the app.
Sarrasin recommends that smartphone users optimize their small screens by removing information deemed unnecessary from their existing screens, noting that phones are used for simplified tasks compared to the requirements of office workers.
“There usually is a lot of information on green screens,” he says. “What’s needed by smartphone users is typically a small subset of the exiting screens. The Presto visual editor is used to make these changes. It’s a matter of streamlining screens for better fit on phone.”
Tablets, with their larger screen real estate, render 80×24 screens very nicely.
Looking a little farther down the road, Sarrasin says Presto Mobile updates will include geolocation features built into the app (rather than Web-based geolocation that is less accurate) and an audio capture feature that permits users to make recorded notes using the device microphone.