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Is the new WebFacing tool the first step to Web enablement?

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Is the new WebFacing tool the first step to Web enablement?

    I just read the latest edition of the iSeries Developer Directions newsletter, which is also available on-line at:

    href="http://www.ibm.com/eserver/iseries/developer/comm/newsletter.html">http:// www.ibm.com/eserver/iseries/developer/comm/newsletter.html

    There was an article on page 20 about IBM's new WebFacing tool, by Dave Slater, World Wide Market Manager, iSeries Application Development. Frankly, the article left me with several questions. These are pointed questions. They are not meant to question the sincerity of the author, just to lead toward a clearer understanding. Excerpts from the article are italicized, etc.

    Analysts asked why we were giving away a tool for which many competitors were charging a premium price.

    Does IBM consider its Business Partners to be its "competitors"? Jacada, for example?

    The reason is that we believe in Java programming and e-business as the future of iSeries, and we want our Business Partners to have access to the best tools available for application development.

    Bottom line, is the reason for giving the tool away, an incentive to current customers to buy new hardware, to support the additional resource requirements of Java? Or is it so Business Partners can build better applications? Will the applications be better?

    Many analysts have mistaken the WebFacing tool as a 5250 data-stream conversion tool.

    Really? Is that because the IBM Workstation Manager interfaces with Java Beans and JSPs that convert I/O coming from and going to the 5250 application to I/O going to and coming from a web browser? Or is it because a 5250 data-stream has a more narrow definition? If so, is it relevant?

    The converted host applications will support both a 5250 and a Web interface.

    Will the web interface be better than the 5250 interface? Will most users prefer it? Or will it be something akin to the interface provided by Workstation Gateway.

    This is NOT a dead-end conversion process, but rather a step towards vital e-business applications.

    Is this to imply, that the converted applications should be replaced with something different in a subsequent step? Is WebFacing a stop-gap solution?

    Most of the common DDS keywords are supported. Simple business applications, that use these supported DDS keywords, can be converted and ready for further customization within a couple of hours?

    Would most business applications fall within this category? Many? Ok, a few?

    The performance of the Web interface is comparable to the 5250 interface (assuming your system has been sized to handle the workload associated with WebSphere Application Server).

    Really? How much CPU time is used in the Web interface, vs. the 5250 interface?

    Nathan.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Is the new WebFacing tool the first step to Web enablement?

    Bill, Before you get the WF server to run, you must be ABSOLUTELY current on ALL PTFs, and I do mean ALL. Apply the latest cume tape and then the DB group, the Java group, the HTTP group; all of them. Make sure that your WAS console is at the same fixpack level as the WAS server on the iSeries (i.e. 3.5.6 iSeries means fixpack 6 on the PC.) Once that's in place, you need to start the HTTP server and the WebFacing server, then start WAS. STRTCPSVR *HTTP HTTPSVR(your_server) STRTCPSVR *WEBFACING Start WAS by starting the subsystem and then going to the PC and starting up the server instance you configured. --buck

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Is the new WebFacing tool the first step to Web enablement?

    Is there some trick to "running and testing" objects created in webfacing? I'm not really sure I want to invest much time until I'm sure it performs reasonably well. Webfacing created me a simple HTML with a link to my COMMAND. But I can't get it to run. According to OPER. NAV. the webfacing server isn't started. When I try to start it, it "STOPS".

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  • David Abramowitz
    replied
    Is the new WebFacing tool the first step to Web enablement?

    The converted host applications will support both a 5250 and a Web interface. Will the web interface be better than the 5250 interface? Will most users prefer it? Or will it be something akin to the interface provided by Workstation Gateway. From what I have seen, Webfacing is a true GUI, and not anywhere near as kludgy as WSG. For instance, you can use cascading style sheets to set a pattern for your screens. OTOH, there are still too many DDS keywords that are not yet supported for this to work in a production environment. Dave

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Is the new WebFacing tool the first step to Web enablement?

    I am playing around with the web facing tool (V5R1...websphere 3.5). I have built a small project. How do I test and run it. This Iseries box has never really been configured for the web. From Green screen i did a STRHOSTSVR *ALL. When I looked in OP. Nav. I saw the web facing server was stopped. I tryed starting it from there but it didn't work. Can anyboby point me in the right direction.? Is anybody actually using this in any kind of production work? IBM seemed real high on this at COMMOM but I get the feeling that its still in "BETA"

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  • David Abramowitz
    replied
    Is the new WebFacing tool the first step to Web enablement?

    Brian Singleton wrote: IBM won't keep the lid on it forever IBM usually does a pretty good job keeping the lid on. However, in this case, not only is the lid off, but there are so many holes in the head, that when the wind blows you can hear a calliope! I will be attending an IBM "Iseries/400 executive briefing" tommorrow at the IBM Palisades Executive Center (breakfast included). The main topic is web-enabling tools for the 400. The published sub-topics are:
      [*]Host on Demand[*]Host Publisher[*]Websphere Application Server[*]Websphere Commerce Suite[*]VAJ[*]Domino Designer[*]MQ Series[/list]Conspicuous by its absence in Web-facing. You already know the questions that I will be asking. I will also be paying attention to the other attendees to see if they have even heard of Web-facing as yet. Dave Dave

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Is the new WebFacing tool the first step to Web enablement?

    David, As I understand it from what's been published from IBM, it does not require WS Advanced, only WS Standard, so there are no extra costs that I'm aware of (short of a H/W upgrade to run WS, if you need one). Also, as mentioned in this thread, it is a _beta_ product and a work in progress. However, IBM won't keep the lid on it forever. Brian Singleton Midrange Computing

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  • David Abramowitz
    replied
    Is the new WebFacing tool the first step to Web enablement?

    Shannon O'Donnell wrote: sort of reminds you of being a kid and waiting to open presents Opening the presents did not involve paying a lot extra for another present that was prerequisite to the present to be opened. i.e. If additional costly Websphere components are required, then I have to change my own presentation to management. If not, then my pitch would involve holding off on HOD. There are legitimate business issues here. At this point in time, it would appear that IBM is muddying the waters by releasing only limited information. And that information, so far, has tended to be confusing. Dave

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Is the new WebFacing tool the first step to Web enablement?

    sort of reminds you of being a kid and waiting to open presents on Christmas day, eh? ah...the excitement is in the anticipation of what the future might hold...

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  • David Abramowitz
    replied
    Is the new WebFacing tool the first step to Web enablement?

    I just received my 8x11 glossy brochure for this season's MC Connection Conference. Among the sessions offered, I noticed this one: Webfacing: Changing the face of the AS/400 The announced speaker will be either IBM's Phil Coulthard, or George Farr. Within the blurb, it states as follows: Starting with the next release of OS/400, if you have SEU, you have Webfacing. Hmmmmmmmmm. Dave

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  • R.Daugherty
    replied
    Is the new WebFacing tool the first step to Web enablement?

    "...I don't think we'll have too long to wait for a richer user interface" But one that is 5250 aware to some degree, Nathan? No. Any of us could take off and start over with some kind of Windows GUI client architecture (you and I have both done that in the past), or look into an XWindows approach that is handled by both Windows and GNOME/KDE on Linux, or an AWT forms based architecture, or perhaps the IBM Sash desktop based product that is driven by web protocols but is integrated into the desktop, any of us could have done that all along, but none of us can pitch what we have and start over nor can we implement incremental replacements that aren't integrated with what remains. Porting to ASNA Visual RPG, Jacada's Java code conversions, IBM's VisualAge RPG that can generate Java, or something yet to be written that acts like Webfacing but generates more robust XWindows streams are all approaches that would work well, I think, but all produce large numbers of desktop programs to replace green screens. The approach I pushed last year was integrated into the desktop yet one canvas program, but since then Sash approaches that. I agree with you in general, Nathan, but specifically a 5250 aware interface that interacts with a new spreadsheet enabled subfile will never come from anybody but AS/400 advocates at IBM. Yes, it is yet another interface that may seem to be bucking the tide of standardization, in which the browser is the extreme implementation of, but I contend that the value add of an AS/400 interface is in fact not just another instance of a universal interface but a unique AS/400 powered business interface that marries the qualities of the proven 5250/3270 interface with Windows/Java Swing components. This is the opposite of the universal lowest common denominator browser interface and the only way that we will prevail. We are different, and we need to leverage our unique strengths with a unique interface. I believe all the visual interface cards are on the table, and only an Ace up an AS/400 s leeve will produce a winning hand. Regards, Ralph

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Is the new WebFacing tool the first step to Web enablement?

    Beta testing is only now beginning. By the time the product is released, , , , , if it is released, , we may see a polished product.

    You're probably right. But, to my knowledge, comparable products from Seagull and Jacada have been dealing with some of these fundamental issues for years. And they apparently still don't have an answer. They all seem to be a stop-gap, or interim solution at best.

    My opinion is that Web browsers do offer a long-term solution to the user interface need. Not in their present state. They need to improve. The HTML specification needs to be extended. It needs to be more robust.

    But I don't agree that IBM should create an AS/400 specific GUI of its own. With all the benefit from, and momentum behind standards, I don't think we'll have too long to wait for a richer user interface.

    Nathan.

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  • R.Daugherty
    replied
    Is the new WebFacing tool the first step to Web enablement?

    OTOH, M$ expands their testing programs as time goes on, not shuts them down. To shut testing down indicates the testing is not going well, doesn't it? Oh. No more testing needed because it's ready for GA. Right.... Consider this. IBM says they introduced a program to make more AS/400 legacy software available via a browser (no matter how worded, this is what it means). They said that a beta program of converting AS/400 software with the Webfacing product would take place with selected participants. Let's say all went well and we have a number of participants who now have web enabled versions of their AS/400 software to demonstrate. The reaction? Not one screen shot, not one PR release, and instead shut down the beta conversion program instead of rolling out into an expansion program of converting AS/400 software for our brave new world. A very strange way to react to a successful beta rollout... but then I have a lot to learn from IBM marketing I guess. I will no longer pay M$ to test their software, and I know that IBM is wrong in their assertion that business processing of the future will take place in web pages. On the other hand, BSD announced today that it is now a GNOME XWindows system, the same as every other Unix and Linux OS out there (except maybe AIX). Funny, even as M$ is totally committed to the web via .NET, you don't hear them talking about trying to cram everything into a web page. Instead they talk about P to P software, which has nothing to do with a browser. Why out of all computer companies did we have to end up with a company that pinned their future on web server software? I wouldn't care except for the simple fact that we're stuck between a green screen and a web page, and the rest of the world isn't... Ralph

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  • David Abramowitz
    replied
    Is the new WebFacing tool the first step to Web enablement?

    With all that has bewen said in this thread, it should be kept in mind that this is still alpha. Beta testing is only now beginning. By the time the product is released, , , , , if it is released, , we may see a polished product. After all this is not MS, where the public are the beta testers. OTOH................... Dave

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Is the new WebFacing tool the first step to Web enablement?

    In other words, good luck...

    Yea, Ralph. The Redpaper is carefully worded to minimize the incongruities between 5250 and browser interfaces. The reality seems to be that multiple record formats in screen files is something that has a bite. The browser model doesn't precisely fit. It apparently requires another contrived workaround.

    Thanks to those who posted links to the Redpapers.

    Nathan.

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