What the Fall ’23 TRs Bring Navigator for i
October 18, 2023 Alex Woodie
The releases of IBM i that ship next month will bring enhancements to Navigator for i, the Web-based interface for accessing, monitoring, and managing IBM i. However, without some functions that have yet to arrive, the transition from the legacy Navigator tool will take more time.
It’s hard to believe, but the new Navigator for i offering is only two years old. You will recall that the introduction of New Nav, as IBM called it, was the biggest news with the launch of IBM i TR 7.3 TR11 and 7.4 TR5 in the fall of 2021. Not only was the user interface different and better – with the Angular framework instead of Toolbox for Java – but the technology inside used to fetch data (SQL-based IBM i Services instead of CL commands and APIs) was overhauled, too.
With hundreds of IBM i Services and Db2 for i Services to choose from, IBM gives Navigator customers a tremendous amount of flexibility to fetch data to load into their Navigator interfaces. There’s a tremendous amount of customization that users can do by arranging their panels to monitor and manage various parts of their IBM i estates in a way that makes sense to them.
The new Navigator didn’t do everything that the heritage product did on day one, as IBM believed it had time to replicate the functionality over subsequent releases. But when the Log4j issue hit, rendering the heritage Navigator product vulnerable months after the new version was launched, IBM was under the gun to accelerate the development of features in the new interface.
With last week’s fall 2023 TR announcement, IBM checked a few more items off the list and added some new features that weren’t on the list but have been requested by users and IBM advisory groups.
One of the big usability improvements is how filtering and sorting of tables works. Users can now save their filters and sorts to favorites, allowing them to be easily pulled back up later. IBM added a “Save table’s current filters” checkbox to Nav’s user interface to enable this feature.
The table filters will be preserved and applied to the new data when the user switches to a different system by using the system tray, IBM says. What’s more, multiple favorites for a single table can now be saved, each with a different set of filtering attributes, IBM says.
Navigator’s work management functions have also been enhanced. Printing functionality is at the top of the list, as users can now create a new printer connection based on an existing entry. Items in the Active Jobs table is now ordered by Run Priority, IBM says, with the subsystem listed in a table next to the jobs. Nearly every Advanced Job Scheduler function is supported in Navigator, including job groups and most of the scheduled jobs, IBM says, and the Job Log table makes better use of space.
Navigator’s networking functions have also been tweaked. For starters, the VPN configuration wizard has a new home in network menu. There are also new properties actions available for several items, including the VPN secure connections, VPN IP security policies, and user-defined server users. Users also gain new editing options for configuring the DNS root server.
All of the options for configuring the audit journal have been consolidated into one location. IBM has also added a new context panel and advanced settings that make it easier to set up auditing. It has also added “bread crumbs” to the audit configuration process.
Users can access a new hardware resources table within Navigator, courtesy of the IBM i Service known as HARDWARE_RESOURCE_INFO. IBM has also rejiggered the menu format for system actions with subcategories, it says.
When viewing the IFS from Navigator, the default initial sort is set to ascending. IBM is also displaying the Show Usage information for locked files on the properties panel, it says.
Users can launch into the currently managed hostname by using user-defined bookmarks, IBM says. However, bookmarks that come from the factory are now locked down to prevent modification.
IBM says many of the enhancements come directly from users, either through the IBM Ideas Portal or from advisory councils, such as the COMMON Americas Advisory Council (CAAC). “Our group of trusted advisors has been working with us to try and get the priority sequence of all the things that we wanted to bring into Navigator,” Alison Butterill, the IBM i product manager, told IT Jungle.
However, there are still some holes in Navigator’s support. For instance, there is no pre-built support for Backup, Recovery, and Media Services (BRMS) at this point, as existed in the heritage Navigator product. Integration with IBM’s PowerHA is also lacking. Another item — support for Advanced Function Printing (AFP) forms — can also be added to the list.
You can access the announcement for IBM i 7.5 TR3 here and the announcement for IBM i 7.4 TR9 here. You can also read more about all of the enhancements that IBM plans to begin shipping at the IBM i Technology Updates webpage.