OS/400 provides a useful command that enables you to help your users with many questions or problems without leaving your desk. It is the Start Copy Screen (STRCPYSCN) command and it is very easy to use.
Let's say a user calls and says they are in a screen, they don't know how they got there and they don't know how to get out. Without STRCPYSCN, you would either have to walk to their display station (while they waited) to actually see what program they were in, or you would ask them to describe the screen over the phone while you tried to determine where they are. All in all-a time-consuming and frustrating experience.
A better solution is to run the STRCPYSCN command and key in the user's display station name (let's call it A) as the source device of the copy and key in your own display station name (let's call it B) as the output device of the screen copy (or *REQUESTER), as follows:
STRCPYSCN SRCDEV(A) OUTDEV(B)
The command then sends a break message to the source device A (the user) saying that the screen copy has been requested (from B) and prompts them to enter a C to prevent it or a G to allow it. Once they enter a G, you will then start to see copies of their screen appearing on your terminal.
The screens you see are one step behind the screen the user is seeing. When they press a key that inhibits input (such as pressing Enter, a function key or the Help key), the system copies that screen to yours and then shows the user their next screen. In order to update your screen, have them press a key to refresh the screen (usually F5) or press Help.
STRCPYSCN is also useful if a user has an error message on his screen. When he calls you, run the STRCPYSCN command. Then have him press keys to step you through various screens, while talking on the phone, until you have resolved the problem. This is an excellent way to do a step-by-step walkthrough of any given situation.
There are two ways to end the copy function when you're done. If display station A signs off, the copy function ends, releasing B. The other method is to run the End Copy Screen (ENDCPYSCN) command from display station A. When ENDCPYSCN is executed, display station B is released.
There are a few things to note. First of all, B cannot perform any functions during the copy session. That device is simply receiving the last screen as sent from A. Also remember that A is actually performing all the functions that the screen is displaying. This command does not set up a test environment or any limited functionality at the source device. What you see is still what you are getting and doing.
Editor's Note: System operators and programmers usually have access to a command line and do not have limited capabilities in their user profiles, so it's easy for them to run the STRCPYSCN command. However, since it is the user at the other end who must run ENDCPYSCN to terminate the copy function, there may be a problem if he doesn't have access to a command line and/or has limited capabilities. One solution is to have the end user sign off the system (which ends the copy function). Another solution is to provide the ENDCPYSCN command as a menu option somewhere-like in a "utilities" menu.
You should also know that you can copy to a database file instead of copying to another display. This allows you to capture screens in a file which you can edit later with a word processor (for example, to prepare software documentation). To copy to a database file, specify OUTDEV(*NONE) and the name of the database file in the OUTFILE parameter.