Features Reengineered Portal and New Tools for Rapid App Development
CNX announced today the general availability of version 4.0 of the Valence Framework for IBM i. Valence Framework 4.0 features a completely reengineered desktop browser portal as well as new tools for rapid web and mobile app development on IBM i.
“This is without a doubt the biggest release of Valence Framework since version 1.0 was first announced nearly six years ago,” said Richard Milone, CNX Chief Technical Officer. “I’m particularly excited about the new integration with Sencha Architect 3. This was the number one requested feature for the last two years and now we have it with Valence Framework 4.0.”
Sencha Architect, a visual design and coding tool for Ext JS and Sencha Touch, makes it possible for IBM i developers to practically “drag and drop” their way to creating desktop and mobile apps. A single developer license to Sencha Architect is now included with Valence Enterprise. “Sencha Architect is a one-of-a-kind tool for modern HTML5 development,” said Milone. “It significantly shortens the learning curve and makes it possible to create the front-end of a web or mobile app much faster than before. It’s quite fun to use too, as it abstracts you from much of the mundane coding process that is typical in web app development.”
With the new Sencha Architect integration, the output of an RPG program can be imported as a data model, significantly reducing the amount of front-end coding required to set up components such as grids or charts. “You can even see the actual live data coming from an RPG program right inside the development canvas as you’re creating your app,” Milone added, “which means you can visually set component properties like column widths before you even start testing. This is a huge time saver.”
In addition to its appeal to developers, Valence Framework 4.0 also includes features that will be of great interest to end-users. The new Valence Portal introduces a fresh CSS theme and a “launch pad” based menu system for starting apps, replacing the “navigation tree” approach that was used in prior releases. “At the start of development for the new portal we hired a human-computer interaction specialist to completely rethink the user interface, and the resulting look and feel of the new Valence
Portal is far superior to what was used in prior releases,” said Milone. “The early feedback we’ve received from beta testers has been overwhelmingly positive.” Valence Framework 4.0 also features a “stepping stone” solution for IBM i shops with large numbers of green screen programs. The framework now includes direct integration with IBM i Access for Web, making it possible to run interactive 5250 programs as apps within the Valence Portal. Developers can either have the portal call specific green screen programs directly, or they can have the portal navigate to specific points within a green screen program using macros.
“Even the most ambitious development team can’t elegantly reengineer the hundreds of 5250 programs in use at a typical IBM i shop overnight into true, modern browser apps,” said Robert Swanson, CNX Senior Partner. “So with IBM i Access for Web integrated into the Valence Portal, businesses can gradually transition their applications from green screen to web one app at a time, without forcing their users to constantly flip between Client Access and the browser. This makes the introduction of web apps a bit smoother on the users.”
Other features in Valence Framework 4.0 include:
Updated versions of Ext JS (4.2.2) and Sencha Touch (2.3.1)
Revamped portal administration app for managing users, apps, etc.
Enhanced RPG Tester (for calling back-end RPG programs from the browser)
New Sencha Architect-based example programs
Improved performance on processing AJAX calls to RPG programs (up to a 40% improvement)
Support for multiple login methods within the same session, including LDAP authentication
Multiple new utility features for RPGers in the Valence RPG Toolkit
Updates to the Nitro family of apps, including Nitro Query (formerly Nitro App Builder)
The core Valence Framework remains free to all IBM i developers under terms of a “Community Developer” License. Premium features, including Nitro apps, are activated on a per-partition basis for an unlimited number of users and developers under the terms of an “Enterprise” License.
For additional Valence Framework 4.0 details, and to download the software, please visit www.cnxcorp.com/valence.