TechTip: IBM i Access for Web Part II: Getting Productive Without All the Green Stuff

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Let's look at some other features of IBM i Access for Web, including how to convert spooled files to PDF and how to manage your IBM i from mobile devices or Lotus Notes.

Written by Steve Pitcher

Last time, we had a look at how to set up IBM i Access for Web and briefly explored the Web-based 5250-style interface. We'll go a little more general this time, showing you how to do some neat things with the product.

Still Printing Oodles of Spooled Files on Tractor-Fed, Greenbar Paper?

Paper, how I loathe thee. The only thing I loathe more than stacks of greenbar is an output queue loaded with spooled files older than three months; it's paper just waiting to happen. And chances are it will! Wouldn't it be great if IBM i offered a quick, native way to convert a spooled file into PDF format?

You can do this with IBM i Access for Web.

Within Print > Printer Output, click on the View PDF button.



Figure 1: Choose to view the PDF.

Then, on the following screen (Figure 2), you can pick the browser (default), personal folder, or output queue as the destination.


Figure 2: Choose the destination.

The spool file gets converted on the fly, and you can delete the spooled file (Figure 3).


Figure 3: Delete the spooled file.

So why print? Do you really need to print? It's right there! On the screen! You can then email it or save it somewhere else for safekeeping.

I showed this feature to a few people I work with. They currently print reports out of IBM i, send them to themselves via the multifunction printer's scan-to-email function, save them to their desktops, rename them with meaningful names, and then email the reports to someone else. The process can take 10 minutes for just a 10-page report. What a waste of time! As you can imagine, they immediately wanted this feature so they could just dump those reports directly to PDF (renaming them in the process) and get them where they need to go in about 10 seconds, no matter if it's one page or 500 pages.

Options for Mobility

Did you notice that all these screen shots were taken on an iPad?

Imagine the possibilities of mobilizing your workforce, from the shop floor to the shipping dock. My company has a number of quality control labs that do product testing. Usually, a lab tech performs a test, writes down some information, walks 25 feet to the computer, and then enters the data again into a system. A tablet with IBM i Access for Web is the real solution here. How much time is taken up just walking? How much time is taken up duplicating the entry of data? Enough to justify a couple of tablets as a proof of concept? You bet!

What About Productivity?

Lotus Notes is my primary work interface. I schedule my meetings, use Notes-based applications, manage email, and even monitor my Twitter and Facebook feeds all from within Lotus Notes.

I manage my IBM i from Lotus Notes too.

It's very simple to do. One of the cool things about Lotus Notes is the ability to incorporate widgets in the righthand sidebar. Widgets are almost like a mini-application inside of the Lotus Notes interface. Web sites that offer a mobile interface fit perfectly inside that sidebar. Since you can configure a widget to point to a Web site, why not configure widgets for both IBM i Access for Web and IBM Navigator for i?

Right-click My Widgets. Choose

Configure a Widget From > A Web Page.

Then, just copy and paste the URL of your IBM i Access for Web or IBM Navigator for i into the address field. Click Next through the default options, and you'll have embedded IBM i management capabilities directly within your Lotus Notes sidebar!

Wait, There's Way More Cool Stuff!

I'm going to continue analyzing IBM i Access for Web in another TechTip, where I'll cover setting up SSL to facilitate secure HTTPS Web sessions plus answer some questions on performance considerations and job management.