What’s New In Access Client Solutions
February 20, 2017 Alex Woodie
IBM unveiled new Technology Refreshes for the IBM i 7.2 and 7.3 operating systems last week, and among the goodies intrepid IBM i professionals will get to use on March 17 are new features and functions in Access Client Solutions. The Java-based interface may not deliver everything that older products offered, but ACS does have some things you can’t find anywhere else.
ACS, you will recall, is the new run-anywhere client that IBM unveiled back in August 2012 as the new strategic replacement for older clients. The product includes a full 5250 emulator based IBM’s Host-On Demand; 5250 printer emulation; a data transfer facility; the capability to view IFS, spool file, and message queues; and a virtual console for LAN and HMC management.
ACS is commonly used by administrators, users, and database engineers alike, and because it’s written in Java, it runs on Windows, Linux, and MacOS. The software can even be accessed from a shared network drive on the IBM i server, eliminating the need to download and install binaries on desktops and laptops. Indeed, the simplified maintenance process enabled by centralizing the ACS environment is one of primary benefits of using this tool.
With IBM i 7.3 TR2 and IBM i 7.2 TR6 (announcement letters can be found here and here, respectively), IBM added several new features, including an improved filter capability in the “output spool file” component of the tool. “This enables the user and system administrator to easily filter the list of spool files to find the files they are looking for based on user profile, job, or other filter options,” IBM says.
IBM also bolstered the database functionality in ACS with updates to the SQL formatting function within the Run SQLScripts interface. The Run SQLScripts interface will be familiar to developers, administrators, and engineers who have used the IBM i Navigator product.
Finally, IBM has added a new feature for the CL Prompter interface designed to help users easily fill in the necessary parameters for a CL command. Finding the right syntax for complex CL commands can be difficult—whether in ACS or any other tool–so this feature should be welcomed by the IBM i user community.
ACS may not yet have all the capabilities found in IBM’s other IBM i interfaces it’s meant to replace, including IBM i Access for Windows, IBM i Access for Linux, and IBM i Access for Web. In particular, some commands available on IBM i Access for Windows do not work with ACS, and it also doesn’t include a SCS printer driver or Toolbox for Java tools.
But ACS has some things you can’t get in some of those products (namely IBM i Access for the Web), such as database drivers. However, depending on what your connectivity needs are, IBM offers JDBC, ODBC, OLE DB, and .NET drivers in a pair of add-ons to ACS called the Windows Application Package and the Linux Application Package.
IBM is positioning ACS as the strategic client interface for the IBM i platform. When run alongside IBM’s flagship Web-based management tool, Navigator for i and the Administration Runtime Expert (ARE) tool, users have a potent combination for accessing the server.
The GA date for IBM i 7.2 TR6 and IBM i 7.3 TR2 is March 17, which is when IBM is expected to deliver the enhancements discussed here. The last version of ACS, version 18.104.22.168, shipped January 16. For more details and the latest ACS download, see the IBM i Access Client Solutions webpage at www-03.ibm.com/systems/power/software/i/access/solutions.html.