22
Mon, Jul
2 New Articles

IBM Access Client Solutions Gets Major Updates

Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

New ACS updates cement ACS as a powerful user interface for IBM i.

A few weeks ago, I got my hands on a beta release of the new IBM Access Client Solutions. IBM’s Tim Rowe, Business Architect Application Development and Systems Management for IBM i, got on the phone with me for a solid 40 minutes to talk about the new features.

Steve Pitcher: So, Tim, I got the new beta version of Access Client Solutions you sent over. There’s a new feature that someone I know wants really bad. It’s the ability to connect to an Independent ASP in ACS and then have ACS remember you want to connect to an IASP next time you use it. I spotted it out of the gate.

Tim Rowe: Yes, and plenty of other goodies too.

SP: My first questions are when is this stuff going to be released and when can I talk about it?

TR: It’s going to be released April 23rd, 2019. That’s when it goes out the door and hits the download site.

SP: And we can talk about it on the 16th of April?

TR: I can live with that.

SP: OK then. So let’s talk about the new SQL formatter in Run SQL Scripts. I grabbed the ugliest piece of SQL I have, which is probably 200 lines or so…

TR: Ha! That’s child’s play!

SP: For me, that’s big! I’m an admin! Anyway, I ran it through the formatter, and it seemed to compact and format it quite nicely. It seems to be more left-adjusted? What was the decision behind that?

TR: There was a problem with the old formatter. It would look at the SQL and kind of do some sort of string manipulation type of formatting with it. Depending on which way the wind was blowing or if it was a Thursday during a full moon, it may or may not have worked as well as you’d expect. So there [were] a lot of complex scripts we had internally that just wouldn’t format well. Unfortunately, the formatter would sometimes corrupt our SQL because it didn’t understand SQL. It understood string manipulation. So the new formatter is actually flexing SQL. We actually have a full syntactical understanding of SQL itself and can understand what goes where contextually. Really not a lot different from what we have in RDi with RPG and COBOL, being able to understand the language.

SP: Almost like a precompiler?

TR: In a way. We’re not prompting you for bad SQL yet, but if you will, this is the next step in Run SQL Scripts. The foundation is being set for being able to prompt and do other things of that nature.

SP: It also seemed to make the SQL seem a little narrower in terms of width.

TR: You have the ability to format the SQL to make it look how you want to make it look. You have control over the spacing, indentation, line breaks, and all of that stuff. Do whatever you want. It’s very customizable.

SP: Was that level of customization always in there?

TR: It was in there. How well it worked is up for debate. It works how it should now.

SP: What’s the other new stuff? Tell me more about the goods.

TR: We have and will continue to add more examples into the Insert From Examples utility. Just the whole idea of having people move toward SQL to manage their systems. We want to give them more examples. The version you have right now doesn’t have the new ones, but they’ll be in there by April 23rd.

There’s new JDBC parameters for connecting to your system. Things like remembering where you’ve been. If you were on a system with an IASP, it’ll remember you connect to an IASP next time.

SP: Run SQL Scripts is really heavy with the update.

TR: Yes. Something people have been asking for is a refresh on the main ACS panel. People have asked for a whole litany of options and enhancements to make things work better for them. Especially for people who have multi-system environments. In its current state, it works great if you have one or two systems. It’s fabulous. But for people like you or me…I have 85 systems on my ACS client.

SP: Eighty-five? That’s child’s play. I have hundreds!

TR: We’ve asked to be able to specify a system name that makes sense. You can fake it out by specifying an IP address, but why can’t I just use the description field? Well, the description field was pretty much worthless. It’s kind of hidden. So what we’ve done is change the System Configurations pane. Open it up and click on that.

SP: I’m there.

TR: You can use that, if you want, as your primary work launch place. We’ve adjusted the columns where the description is column two so you can clearly see both a host name and a description that’s really visible. The other info is off to the right. We’ve added the ability to right-click a system so you can get menus up…

SP: Whoa.

TR: …for any of the system functions. IFS. Schemas. Emulator. Navigator. SQL. All right there.

SP: That. Is. Awesome.

TR: No. No. Just hold on.

SP: <laughing>

TR: It gets better. Wait for it.

SP: OK.

TR: So select your favorite system. Hit CTRL+R. What happens? It runs Run SQL Scripts.

SP: Yeah!

TR: You got keyboard shortcuts! Woooo!

SP: This is great!

TR: Totally the cat’s meow. That’s one of the big things. The other really big thing is…just edit one of your systems. You should notice on the Console tab that you used to have two fields for HMC addresses. Those were hard-coded to say Hardware Management Interface 1 and Hardware Management Interface 2. They were not particularly useful. You’ll notice you can now select the interface you want and assign an IP address to it. Now you can point IP interfaces to a bunch of other things on the system besides the HMC interfaces. Let’s say you have HTTP admin or Navigator running on a different IP than your Telnet. You can now teach ACS where your stuff really is to properly customize it. If you put something there, like mobile access, when I go back out to the main system interfaces menu I just showed you, you can now right-click, and any of those new interfaces you’ve just defined are now available on the right-click!

SP: That’s slick.

TR: Thank you!

SP: This is where I’ll be accessing every system from.

TR: You can create a shortcut to launch that management directly actually. If I have all sorts of interfaces for a system…all the links I need are all there and I can do a quick launch to them. CTRL+E is the emulator. CTRL+S is schemas. Under system config, there’s tabs on the top now. You have General, Database, Console, Management…you can see all the key combos there.

SP: All the people I work with will love this stuff. We live and die with ACS.

TR: Me too!

SP: Yes. You own the product! It’s important it works well and does well.

TR: True. But I’m also a big user. We build the product, but we use the product extensively as well. It makes sense for us to build a product that we’re happy with as users. We have fun arguments internally about things we can do better for us and what we can do better for our customers.

SP: In terms of ACS being the main supported interface, when we get people up to 7.3 they need ACS for the console if they don’t have an HMC. That’s usually their first introduction that we give them. We show them the tool and how to use it. At that point, they have it in their heads to start rolling it out to users and often do. How’s the adoption going for ACS overall?

TR: It’s absolutely increasing. We pull numbers at the end of the year usually. Our numbers for 2016…I’m going off memory here. In 2016, we got it out on the download site—8,000 downloads across 5,500 unique IP addresses. In 2017, it jumped to 36,000 downloads across 18,000 or 19,000 unique IP addresses. In 2018, we were around 42,000 downloads across maybe 25,000 or 30,000 IPs. People are using it. With Access for Windows going end of life on April 30th, 2019…that product is gone. Done. We would expect an increase in our march upward with ACS.

SP: So you know I’m not the only guy beta testing this. What feedback have you received from everyone else?

TR: Well, we have a tremendous amount of people. We have maybe 40 or 50 community members actively providing ideas and feedback for Access Client Solutions. They’re helping to drive this product forward. Especially when we talk about SQL. You can do so much with it. Even though we have one of the industry’s premier experts in Scott [Forstie]. Even the great stuff he does, he still gets SQL ideas from customers and goes “Wow that’s a great way to do that.” Having the community work with us is huge.

Steve Pitcher
Steve Pitcher works with iTech Solutions, an IBM Premier Business Partner. He is a specialist in IBM i and IBM Power Systems solutions since 2001. Feel free to contact him directly This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS

LATEST COMMENTS

Support MC Press Online

$

Book Reviews

Resource Center

  • SB Profound WC 5536 Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. You can find Part 1 here. In Part 2 of our free Node.js Webinar Series, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Brian will briefly discuss the different tools available, and demonstrate his preferred setup for Node development on IBM i or any platform. Attend this webinar to learn:

  • SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation. Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects. The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the company are not aligned with the current IT environment.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT Generic IBM announced the E1080 servers using the latest Power10 processor in September 2021. The most powerful processor from IBM to date, Power10 is designed to handle the demands of doing business in today’s high-tech atmosphere, including running cloud applications, supporting big data, and managing AI workloads. But what does Power10 mean for your data center? In this recorded webinar, IBMers Dan Sundt and Dylan Boday join IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington for a discussion on why Power10 technology is the right strategic investment if you run IBM i, AIX, or Linux. In this action-packed hour, Tom will share trends from the IBM i and AIX user communities while Dan and Dylan dive into the tech specs for key hardware, including:

  • Magic MarkTRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms. Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Request your trial now!  Request Now.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericForms of ransomware has been around for over 30 years, and with more and more organizations suffering attacks each year, it continues to endure. What has made ransomware such a durable threat and what is the best way to combat it? In order to prevent ransomware, organizations must first understand how it works.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericIT security is a top priority for businesses around the world, but most IBM i pros don’t know where to begin—and most cybersecurity experts don’t know IBM i. In this session, Robin Tatam explores the business impact of lax IBM i security, the top vulnerabilities putting IBM i at risk, and the steps you can take to protect your organization. If you’re looking to avoid unexpected downtime or corrupted data, you don’t want to miss this session.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericCan you trust all of your users all of the time? A typical end user receives 16 malicious emails each month, but only 17 percent of these phishing campaigns are reported to IT. Once an attack is underway, most organizations won’t discover the breach until six months later. A staggering amount of damage can occur in that time. Despite these risks, 93 percent of organizations are leaving their IBM i systems vulnerable to cybercrime. In this on-demand webinar, IBM i security experts Robin Tatam and Sandi Moore will reveal:

  • FORTRA Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAManaging messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events? Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAThe thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing. Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAFor over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks. Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:

  • LANSA Business users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.

  • LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed. Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

  • LANSASupply Chain is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. From raw materials for manufacturing to food supply chains, the journey from source to production to delivery to consumers is marred with inefficiencies, manual processes, shortages, recalls, counterfeits, and scandals. In this webinar, we discuss how:

  • The MC Resource Centers bring you the widest selection of white papers, trial software, and on-demand webcasts for you to choose from. >> Review the list of White Papers, Trial Software or On-Demand Webcast at the MC Press Resource Center. >> Add the items to yru Cart and complet he checkout process and submit

  • Profound Logic Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

  • SB Profound WC 5536Join us for this hour-long webcast that will explore:

  • Fortra IT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators with intimate knowledge of the operating system and the applications that run on it is small. This begs the question: How will you manage the platform that supports such a big part of your business? This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn: