User-defined Pop-up Menus

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The end-user interface on the AS/400 is probably about as good as it gets for character-based systems. However, if you are training a first-time user to use the system, it can still be a frustrating experience for both parties. Someone who is not computer-literate can find the various commands used to work with spool files, job queues, and messages difficult to remember. Let's face it: not everyone has learned to spell without vowels.

IBM made a valiant attempt to address this shortfall with Operational Assistant (OA). While OA offers a good alternative to remembering the commands, it can't be customized for individuals in your organization. Thus, you do not have the ability to decide which functions end users have access to and?more importantly?which they do not. Being able to tailor options for specific users gives you a simple level of security, without having to worry about how it will affect the rest of the users on the system. End-user support can also be made easier, because novice users are not as likely to get into trouble if they do not have access to commands they should not be running anyway.

In this article, we will introduce a program that allows you to present your users with a pop-up window of custom-tailored functions displayed in plain English, as shown in 1. When a user presses the attention key?no matter where he is in your system?he will be able to select the function he wants to perform without having to remember any cryptic commands. Best of all, you will have the power to control which commands you wish to make accessible to each user.

In this article, we will introduce a program that allows you to present your users with a pop-up window of custom-tailored functions displayed in plain English, as shown in Figure 1. When a user presses the attention key?no matter where he is in your system?he will be able to select the function he wants to perform without having to remember any cryptic commands. Best of all, you will have the power to control which commands you wish to make accessible to each user.

How It Works

The concept is relatively simple. When a user presses the attention key, he sees a pop-up window that contains options custom-tailored to his needs. A default set of options may also be established for new users or those users who do not need customization.

The pop-up window program was designed to read records from a physical file called REQ001PF (see 2). The key to this file is "User Name" and a sequence number that is used to determine the order of records on the screen. The other fields in the file are the command to be run and a definition field to hold your plain-English command description, which will appear in the pop-up window.

The pop-up window program was designed to read records from a physical file called REQ001PF (see Figure 2). The key to this file is "User Name" and a sequence number that is used to determine the order of records on the screen. The other fields in the file are the command to be run and a definition field to hold your plain-English command description, which will appear in the pop-up window.

Records entered with a blank User Name field will serve as the default options. When the program is run, it will look for records that match the user profile of the person running the program. If it doesn't find a match, the program will automatically bring records with a blank user into the window. When the user selects an option off the screen, the corresponding command is run through the QCMDEXC application program interface (API). What could be easier? There are no commands or parameters to memorize; the user just reads the screen, selects an option based on a description of what the function is, and the command is executed.

Due to space constraints, we are not publishing a program to maintain the REQ001PF file. You can either write your own program to maintain the file or use the Data File Utility (DFU) program.

Achtung!

For our purposes, we decided to call the menu program via the attention key. The beauty of this is that the attention key program is always available, regardless of the program the user happens to be running.

To activate the attention key program, change the user profile by entering the following command (you must have *SECADM authority to make changes to user profiles):

 CHGUSRPRF USRPRF(X) ATNPGM(REQ001RG) 

After the Change User Profile (CHGUSRPRF) command has been completed, the attention key program will be activated the next time the user signs on to the system. Whenever user X (where X is the appropriate user profile) presses the attention key, the window appears. As previously mentioned, the actual functions that appear in the window depend upon the records entered into the REQ001PF file.

Breaking Down the Code

The code for the display file, REQ001DF (see 3), and the RPG program, REQ001RG (see 4), is rather simple. We assume that there will not be many records per user in the REQ001PF file, so we use the "load-all" subfile technique to load the subfile. We did not have to code any paging routines because the system will handle paging for us.

The code for the display file, REQ001DF (see Figure 3), and the RPG program, REQ001RG (see Figure 4), is rather simple. We assume that there will not be many records per user in the REQ001PF file, so we use the "load-all" subfile technique to load the subfile. We did not have to code any paging routines because the system will handle paging for us.

We first check to see if the user (taken from the program status data structure) has any records in the REQ001PF file. If not, we use the default records, which are those that have a blank user. In addition to the fields being displayed in the subfile, we load the command into a hidden field so we can execute it once the user makes a selection.

After displaying the subfile, we set up a loop and read all changed subfile records looking for a "1" in the selection field. When a valid request is made, the program passes the hidden command field to the QCMDEXC API to execute the command. All of the normal prompting characters (??, ?*, and so on) can be used in the command field to prompt for the command.

I'd Like to Buy a Vowel, Please...

The beauty of this interface utility, from an end user's point of view, lies in its simplicity. There are no confusing commands to remember, and he does not have to learn to spell funny commands with names that do not include vowels.

The value of the utility from your point of view should be that you are able to restrict novice or "adventurous" users from getting into areas they don't belong in. If you couple this utility with a more restrictive security setup (by not allowing them to key commands), you will have a lot more control of what is and is not run on your system.

Doug Pence is the founder and Ron Hawkins is the research and development manager of Computer Processing Unlimited, Inc. in San Diego, California.

User-defined Pop-up Menus

Figure 1: Sample Output of the REQ001RG Program



User-defined Pop-up Menus

Figure 2: Physical File REQ001PF

 *=============================================================== * To compile: * * CRTPF FILE(XXX/REQ001PF) SRCFILE(XXX/QDDSSRC) * *=============================================================== *. 1 ...+... 2 ...+... 3 ...+... 4 ...+... 5 ...+... 6 ...+... 7 A R REQREC A USERNM 10 COLHDG('User name') A DSPFLD 45 COLHDG('Display field') A SEQ# 5 0 COLHDG('Sequence #') A COMAND 256 COLHDG('Command') A K USERNM A K SEQ# 
User-defined Pop-up Menus

Figure 3: Display File REQ001DF

 A*=============================================================== A* To compile: A* A* CRTDSPF FILE(XXX/REQ001DF) SRCFILE(XXX/QDDSSRC) + A* RSTDSP(*YES) A*=============================================================== A*. 1 ...+... 2 ...+... 3 ...+... 4 ...+... 5 ...+... 6 ...+... 7 A DSPSIZ(24 80 *DS3) A HELP ALTHELP A CA12(03) A CA03(03) A R WDWSFL SFL A SFLNXTCHG A SFLSEL 1A B 7 4VALUES('1' ' ') A SFDESC 45A O 7 8 A SFLRRN 4S 0H A HDCOMD 256A H A R WDWCTL SFLCTL(WDWSFL) A SFLSIZ(0050) A SFLPAG(0007) A 21 SFLDSP A SFLDSPCTL A N03 SFLEND(*MORE) A WINDOW(WDWFTR) A KEEP A OVERLAY A SETPOS 4S 0H SFLRCDNBR(*TOP) A CURPOS 5S 0H SFLSCROLL A 1 12'User Options for User' A DSPATR(HI) A 1 34USER DSPATR(HI) A 3 2'Type options, press Enter.' A COLOR(BLU) A 4 4'1=Select' A DSPATR(HI) A COLOR(BLU) A 6 3'Opt Request' A DSPATR(HI) A R WDWFTR A WINDOW(*DFT 16 53 *NORSTCSR) A 15 3'F3=Exit' A COLOR(BLU) A 15 13'F12=Cancel' A COLOR(BLU) A R DUMMY A KEEP A ASSUME A 1 2' ' *. 1 ...+... 2 ...+... 3 ...+... 4 ...+... 5 ...+... 6 ...+... 7 
User-defined Pop-up Menus

Figure 4: RPG Program REQ001RG

 *=============================================================== * To compile: * * CRTRPGPGM PGM(XXX/REQ001RG) SRCFILE(XXX/QRPGSRC) * *=============================================================== *. 1 ...+... 2 ...+... 3 ...+... 4 ...+... 5 ...+... 6 ...+... 7 FREQ001DFCF E WORKSTN F SFLRRNKSFILE WDWSFL FREQ001PFIF E K DISK I SDS I 254 263 USER * C MOVE *BLANKS SFLSEL C Z-ADD1 SETPOS C USER SETLLREQREC 24 C *IN24 IFEQ *OFF C MOVE *BLANKS USER C USER SETLLREQREC C ENDIF * C USER READEREQREC 24 C *IN24 DOWEQ*OFF C MOVE DSPFLD SFDESC C MOVE COMAND HDCOMD C ADD 1 SFLRRN C SETON 21 C WRITEWDWSFL C USER READEREQREC 24 C ENDDO * C WRITEWDWFTR C EXFMTWDWCTL 99 C *IN99 IFEQ *OFF C *IN03 DOWEQ*OFF C MOVE CURPOS SETPOS * C READCWDWSFL 41 C *IN41 DOWEQ*OFF C SFLSEL IFEQ '1' C CALL 'QCMDEXC' 99 C PARM HDCOMD C PARM 256 LENGTH 155 C MOVE *BLANKS SFLSEL C UPDATWDWSFL C ENDIF C READCWDWSFL 41 C ENDDO * C WRITEWDWFTR C EXFMTWDWCTL C ENDDO C ENDIF * C MOVE *ON *INLR *. 1 ...+... 2 ...+... 3 ...+... 4 ...+... 5 ...+... 6 ...+... 7 
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