LANSA Revs Low-Code, UI Modernization Tools
October 2, 2019 Alex Woodie
LANSA is under new ownership, but that doesn’t appear to be slowing down the delivery of software, as the company has shipped a pair of product updates for IBM i and other platforms in recent months. That includes a new release of Visual LANSA, its flagship low-code development environment, and aXes, its screen modernization tool for 5250 apps.
In July, LANSA announced a new release of aXes, its tactical modernization tool for converting 5250 applications into Web interfaces. aXes, which LANSA acquired 10 years ago, provides a way for IBM i shops to convert 5250 screens on-the-fly without any up-front development work. However, the tool also supports the capability for developers to customize the screens with various controls, which have been enhanced with this release.
aXes version 4.2 includes several new features of note. For starters, it supports a new and improved HTTP Web server that delivers faster performance, LANSA says. The company also upgraded the aXes Terminal Server with several security enhancements, as well as a 15 percent performance boost, the company says.
The update to aXes also brings support for Google’s Material Design, which it had previously supported with an update to Visual LANSA last year. Material Design is a set of controls and themes that help developers create screens for multiple devices in a consistent manner. Google reportedly spent $2 billion researching best practices for UI design, and Material Design is the set of guidelines that work the same across all devices, in terms aesthetics, animation and motion.
A new choreographer feature in aXes 4.2 will appeal to those IBM i shops that are taking a little more time to create Web apps. LANSA says the new feature will help users successfully navigate Web-enable applications by allowing developers to record screen navigation and keystrokes, and then replay those recordings by embedding them in controls. Users can then follow the on-screen prompts.
aXes 4.2, which supports the latest releases of Chrome and Firefox, as well as IE 11, also sports new reporting function that detail the elements of all customized screens and application settings, including all extensions used in the screens and applications.
LANSA has also added new “eXtensions,” including a signature panel that allows users to store digital signatures on the IBM i server or download them as a PNG file, as well as a button panel that can hold function keys and user-defined buttons on the screen, the company says.
“We’re extremely proud of our long history of supporting the IBM i platform, and of continuing to help IT departments maximize their productivity and investment in this important server platform,” Divaker says in a press release. “This latest release of aXes is another proof point in our commitment to provide developers powerful cross-platform solutions to address all their business needs without limitations.”
Last month, LANSA announced a new release of Visual LANSA, its powerful development environment that allows programmers to create all types of business applications that run on a variety of platforms, including IBM i, Windows, Linux, and the cloud. LANSA still sells an IBM i-only development environment that uses Rapid Development and Maintenance Language (RDML), its fourth-generation language (4GL). But Visual LANSA is the workhorse in the company’s stable today.
LANSA says the latest release of Visual LANSA speeds up the development process by including application samples out of the box. The samples showcase “application helper” functionality that is based on best practices, the company says.
Developers will find a range of sample applications, including code for local user management, password reset using SendGrid, contact us, about, Google Maps geo-encode and geo-decode, recaptcha, image carousel, and FAQs.
Another new feature in this release introduces LANSA Package Manager, which the company says is a “plug-and-play library” of pre-built components for integrating with external services.
Pre-built components shipped with the software provide hooks into Amazon S3 browser direct-upload and download; Google geocoding API; Google recaptcha; Google Translate API; OpenWeatherMap API; sending email using SendGrid API; and sending SMS using Twilio, among others.
Coding wizards have also been updated to support development of Web Application SCRUD (Search, Create, Read, Update, Delete) applications, as well as components like attachments and notes, charts, embedded web pages, maps, quick links, contact us, and about.
“Our goal is to shield developers from the underlying complexity of application development and maintenance so they can spend less time coding and more time-solving business problems,” Divaker says. “This latest release of Visual LANSA adds sophisticated features that are easy to use, so a user only has to master a few key skills to develop, maintain, and integrate applications.