The IBM refacing solution has a feature that supports cell phones, PDAs, and data collection terminals.
With so much emphasis lately on mobile device support, the inevitable question arises of how to prepare for the inevitable task. It may be of interest, therefore, to know that HATS supports the iPhone.
Although the feature for mobile device support has been in HATS for several years, it's worth noting that for those who have V7.1 or later (current is V7.5.1) your HATS applications can communicate with the iPhone and Windows Mobile. In HATS V7.5.1, support is provided for the iPhone and iPod Touch (the iPod essentially is the iPhone without the phone). And while the Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 7 operating systems are becoming increasingly popular as Nokia moves closer to Windows, the HATS team hasn't stopped enhancing the product, and support for additional mobile devices is likely to be extended with the next release.
HATS, of course, stands for IBM Rational Host Access Transformation Services, the rebranded name from the former WebSphere Host Access Transformation Services. With each new release, HATS keeps getting better, and anyone planning on doing green-screen or legacy application modernization owes it to himself to look under the hood of the current version. Today's HATS now includes rich client support for Lotus Notes and AJAX-based automatic refresh and disconnect. It supports all of the IBM platforms—z /OS, AIX, IBM i, Linux—as well as Windows, HP-UX, and Solaris.
Before we go into all the things that HATS can do, let's make it clear what HATS cannot do. First, it will not make your system go faster. In fact, it could create performance challenges, depending on the number of screens you are rendering, the size and quantity of processors you have, and the overall load you are running. That said, HATS is a tool that can reface your green-screen application in a day or two, giving you the feeling that you finally have joined the modern era. You can quickly transform your 5250 (and 3270) green-screen applications without modifying—or even accessing—your application's source code.
The current version of HATS is more than a simple refacing tool, however. It's a modernization toolkit in a box with a number of optional components that you can deploy or not, depending on your situation. You can extend your terminal applications to the Web, Web services, portlets, rich clients, and—yes—mobile devices. These could be cell phones, or personal digital assistants such as the iPod, or data collection terminals like the pricey little units that UPS drivers carry.
I was reminded of the support HATS provides to mobile devices when speaking with Tim Rowe, an IBM i business application architect whose Rochester team supports IBM i Web integration. Rowe offered to help out on a story about the future of Web 2.0 appearing in next week's MC Systems Insight. In the course of our talk, he mentioned that HATS continues to evolve and grow more sophisticated with each release and includes support for mobile devices, which have emerged as a huge player in client access since the release of the Apple iPad and Android tablets earlier this year.
On the other end of the IBM spectrum from HATS is Rational Open Access: RPG Edition, intended to provide the means for developers and ISVs to support—without application source-code changes—whatever type or size of screen that might emerge from the minds of mobile-device manufacturers. The Open Access path provides for greater flexibility in updating and maintaining the application than does HATS, but HATS will get you up and running with a nice-looking GUI in a couple of days, depending on the application. There are many times when you might not have the source code, a necessary requirement for deploying an Open Access–based solution, and you will then have to settle for refacing.
There is an article on the IBM Web site by Rick Hardison, a consultant for Systems Documentation, Inc., called "An Introduction to HATS Mobile Device Support" that explains exactly how to configure HATS to support mobile devices. It takes you through all the steps, beginning with the Create-a-Project wizard. With HATS, you can develop a Web application that provides access to IBM i (or mainframe) applications from a mobile device, no mean feat if you were trying to do this from scratch. With HATS, you can take one of two approaches to provide for mobile-access support. Either you develop a Web application that dynamically transforms host screens to graphical Web pages to meet the mobile-device requirements or you use HATS Integration Objects to access the host applications and create customized Web pages to provide access from mobile devices.
I might add that other Web refacing solutions from ISVs and IBM Business Partners also provide mobile access and screen manipulation, so check around if you are tasked with providing access to your application from a mobile device. But if you already are a HATS user, certainly take a look at Hardison's article.
as/400, os/400, iseries, system i, i5/os, ibm i, power systems, 6.1, 7.1, V7, V6R1