A HATS For Many Occasions
March 25, 2019 Alex Woodie
IBM gives customers plenty of options when it comes to its Rational Host Access Transformation software, including several modes of operation, different runtime options, and support for different operating systems in screen modernization engagements. With last week’s launch of HATS version 9.7, the development and deployment options got even wider.
Regardless of which downstream options a HATS customer ultimately chooses, it all starts out basically the same on the front side of the sausage machine: Customers come to HATS because they have a 5250 (or 3270 or VT100) application that they want to transform, but they don’t want to go through the hassle, expense, and risk of modifying the IBM i, z/OS, or Unix application’s source code.
HATS customers start out by running the host application through the HATS rules-based transformation engine. From there, customers have two main options for what to generate: a GUI screen for a human to use, or a Web services program that can be called by humans or machines.
The Web services options are pretty straightforward: SOAP or RESTful web service. Owing to the widespread popularity of the REST method these days, most clients would choose that route. With version 9.7, IBM is support JAX-RS 2.0 standard, which provides a standard Java API for creating REST web Services.
If the customer is into GUIs (and really, who isn’t?), HATS gives them two main options: a Web page or a rich client interface. If they want a Web page, they can instruct HATS to generate one of three outputs: a straight HTML Web page, a JSR 168/JSR 286 portlet, or a WebFacing element composed of JavaServer Pages (JSPs) and XML. (HATS and WebFacing started life as separate beings, but IBM has been selling them as a single bundle for the past decade.)
Depending on the type of Web screen the customer chooses, HATS will require various incarnations of the WebSphere Application Sever, the WebSphere Portal Server, WebSphere Liberty Profile (Geronimo), the IBM Cloud server, Oracle‘s WebLogic, or even the Integrated Web Application Server for i. The HATS software comes with all the necessary runtimes (HATS Web, Portlet, and WebFacing) that customers need for any of these options.
If the customer is into rich client interfaces that functions more like a standard installed program than a Web page, they will use the HATS Rich Client runtime. This piece of code, which is also referred to as the “Eclipse runtime environment,” will render a rich client in one of several targets, including the Eclipse SDK version 4.7 environment and higher, Lotus Notes version 9.0.1 and higher, and Lotus Expeditor version 6.2.3 and future fix packs and higher. (Lotus tooling has been merged with Eclipse, hence the name.)
That brings us to the HATS Toolkit. The HATS Toolkit is used to modify and customize the GUI screens that emerge from the HATS transformation engine. The software is integrated with Eclipse IDEs, and works with GUIs generated for HTML, portlet, rich client, and mobile devices.
The HATS Toolkit lets your developers build all sorts of nifty objects into the GUI, including drop-down lists and navigation buttons. It also lets developers change the layout of the GUI, including hiding unnecessary elements and organizing data into tables.
With HATS version 9.7, the HATS Toolkit now runs on MacOSX, giving developers who prefer Mac desktops and laptops the capability to work in their favored environment. Previously, it only ran on Windows.
IBM has been steadily adding support for MacOS over the years. In 2016 it added support for MacOS with Rational Developer for IBM i (RDi). And with the advent of Access Client Solutions (ACS), the company has a Java-based client that can run anywhere.
There are several other new features in HATS 9.7, which shipped March 20, including support for the version 9.7 releases of Rational Application Developer for WebSphere Software and Rational Software Architect for WebSphere Software.
The last new feature is support for larger screen size terminals. With this release, HATS supports screens up to 62 inches x 160 inches. (It’s unclear what sort of IBM i application would require a screen that’s more than 13 feet wide, but it’s likely impressive.)
The version 9.7 releases of HATS for Multiplatforms, HATS for 5250 Applications on i, and HATS for 5250 Applications on Multiplatforms shipped last Wednesday. For more information, see IBM United States Software Announcement 219-163.