Menu Design & Implementation w/ Graphical DDS: #2

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Brief: When you use GDDS to define menu bars and drop-down menus, you can choose from three types of pulldown menus. The first type is a multiple-choice menu. The second type, the single-choice pulldown menu, is the most commonly used and is easy to program and work with. The final choice is a menu that has no choices on it-just the word on the menu bar. This article examines each of these menu types, explains how to code them and addresses the design considerations you face when using them.

In last month's article, we saw that something as seemingly simple as defining a menu bar involves many choices. Because menu-bar and pulldown-menu implementation is primarily a user interface issue and not a programming issue, you must devote most of your effort to designing an easy-to-use menuing system. Users have expectations of how pulldown menus should work. This is not the place to demonstrate technical wizardry by overstepping or ignoring commonly expected practice.

With that in mind, we'll look at three types of menus that you can implement. Last month's DDS and RPG fragments have been expanded to full, operational code, with working examples of multiple-choice, single-choice and "no-choice" menus. By examining the multiple-choice menu in detail, you should see that this menu format is much more complicated to program and use than the preferred single-choice menu format. Within the single-choice format, you must consider the ordering of the menu items, the spacing between them, when to "gray" a menu choice and when not to display a menu choice. The final menu choice, a no- choice menu, is a special case that may be useful in small doses.

Multiple-choice Menu

The first pulldown menu in 1 is the MENU record format. This is an unusual pulldown menu, since you can choose more than one item within the pulldown menu.

The first pulldown menu in Figure 1 is the MENU record format. This is an unusual pulldown menu, since you can choose more than one item within the pulldown menu.

You can define a record format as a pulldown menu by including the record-level PULLDOWN keyword. A pulldown record is a special case of a DDS window. The border used with the pulldown menu can be specified with the WDWBORDER (window border) keyword. In the example display file, WDWBORDER is specified at the file level, so that it applies to all of the pulldown (and other WINDOW) formats within the file. If you want to specify different window borders, you can specify WDWBORDER at the record-format level.

Each pulldown menu format includes at least one input/output (I/O) field. In our example in 1, we use the MSEL field for the MENU format. This is a two-byte numeric field, starting at line 1 position 1. Like the MNUFLD we defined in the MENUBAR record format last month, the selection field is not actually displayed. Instead, the system either formats one or more fields for you to make a selection or displays radio buttons or check boxes depending on the terminal and controller support available at runtime.

Each pulldown menu format includes at least one input/output (I/O) field. In our example in Figure 1, we use the MSEL field for the MENU format. This is a two-byte numeric field, starting at line 1 position 1. Like the MNUFLD we defined in the MENUBAR record format last month, the selection field is not actually displayed. Instead, the system either formats one or more fields for you to make a selection or displays radio buttons or check boxes depending on the terminal and controller support available at runtime.

The MLTCHCFLD field-level keyword associated with the MSEL field makes the MENU record a multiple-choice format. This complicates the format somewhat, because we now need to add coding to indicate which of the choices were selected. On single-choice pulldown menus, the selection can be returned to a HLL program through the selection field. When you use a multiple-choice format, the value returned in the selection field is the number of selections that you made. You need to look elsewhere to determine which items were selected.

You describe your menu-item selections with the CHOICE keyword. Three parameters are used with this keyword. First is the choice identification number. This serves a purpose similar to that of the MNUBARCHC identification number, in that it indicates which selection was chosen. The identifier number is followed by the descriptive text for the menu item. You can also define a mnemonic for menu-item text, by placing a greater than (>) character in front of the character that is to be the mnemonic. Unlike menu-bar items, you do want menu-selection text to be descriptive. You don't need to be overly wordy, but you can certainly use more than one word to good effect.

An optional third parameter of the CHOICE keyword is the special value *SPACEB. This is used to indicate that you want a blank row between consecutive CHOICE specifications. Another way to create spacing between menu choices is shown in the MENU format example. The MENU record format contains five choices: 1, 2, 91, 92 and 99. By assigning nonconsecutive identification numbers (e.g., 2 and 91, or 92 and 99) to sequential menu choices, we force a blank line to be inserted between those choices.

It is desirable to use the spacing capabilities of a menu when you have a number of choices and you can sensibly group choices together. You can see many examples of this grouping of choices in PC programs. For example, choices on the File menu typically include Save categories grouped together and Print categories grouped together. This categorization constitutes far better menu design than simply listing choices in alphabetical or random order. Like the presentation of menu-bar choices covered last month, grouping related options is a design area where you should be consistent between menus. Put similar groupings in similar relative positions on different menus.

The MENU format includes an additional keyword, CHCCTL (choice control), that is required for each choice you define on a multiple-choice menu. CHCCTL has two required parameters and an optional parameter set. The required parameters, shown in the example, are the choice identification and the associated control field. The choice identification corresponds with each item defined in a CHOICE keyword. The control field corresponds with a one-byte, numeric, hidden field that is defined in the same record format. Each CHCCTL keyword must be associated with a unique control field.

The control field is used to set the availability of a menu item when the pulldown menu is displayed and to return the status of the menu item to your program when the format is read. 2 shows the values that are used with the control field. The optional parameter set is used to specify a message to be displayed if the user tries to select an unavailable choice. A default message is displayed if you do not specify a different message.

The control field is used to set the availability of a menu item when the pulldown menu is displayed and to return the status of the menu item to your program when the format is read. Figure 2 shows the values that are used with the control field. The optional parameter set is used to specify a message to be displayed if the user tries to select an unavailable choice. A default message is displayed if you do not specify a different message.

In the example program in 3 (page 104), control field CTL92 is set to a value of 2 (unavailable) in the *INZSR subroutine. That means that even before the program displays the menu bar, we have decided that the "Reset all" menu item should not be available. When you make a menu item unavailable, it is still displayed in the menu but cannot be selected. On monochrome displays, the first character of the menu-item text is replaced by an asterisk. On color displays, the unavailable choice is displayed in a different color. This is sometimes referred to as "graying" the selection.

In the example program in Figure 3 (page 104), control field CTL92 is set to a value of 2 (unavailable) in the *INZSR subroutine. That means that even before the program displays the menu bar, we have decided that the "Reset all" menu item should not be available. When you make a menu item unavailable, it is still displayed in the menu but cannot be selected. On monochrome displays, the first character of the menu-item text is replaced by an asterisk. On color displays, the unavailable choice is displayed in a different color. This is sometimes referred to as "graying" the selection.

Simply setting CTL92 to the unavailable value does not make the choice unavailable, though. In order to do that, we have to write to the record format containing the field. In *INZSR, this is done by the WRITE statement to record format MENU. This does not cause the pulldown menu to be displayed. The pulldown menu can only be displayed when the menu-bar record format is displayed. Because we have not yet done that, we can initialize our pulldown menu formats before they are displayed. You can see examples of these initializations in the *INZSR subroutine.

When the multiple-choice pulldown menu is displayed, the program first checks the values in the control fields. For fields which contain a value of 0, the associated menu-item text is displayed as available. If the value in the control field is 1, the associated menu-item text is available and the item is marked as selected. On a low-function terminal, the system indicates a selected item by placing a slash (/) character in the associated selection field. A control-field value of 2, as mentioned above, means the menu item is unavaiable.

When the pulldown menu is displayed on a low-function terminal, the user selects an item by tabbing to it and entering a slash character. High-function terminals enable users to select multiple-choice items with the mouse.

On input, the program examines each of the control fields to determine whether or not the field was selected. Your program simply goes through the list of the control fields and checks for the value zero or one. For example, in processing the MENU format, the first control field checked is CTL99, the field associated with the Exit menu-item selection (note that Exit is included on both the MENU pulldown menu and as a separate menu-bar item). We examine this field first because if it was selected, we can immediately exit the program.

Following through the rest of the processing of MENU, you can see how one or both of the additional items can be selected. If you select the "Enable all" option (CTL91), a value of 1 is placed into both CTL01 and CTL02, so that those menu items will be marked as selected the next time the menu is displayed. CTL91 is marked as unavailable by putting a value of 2 into it. This is used to toggle the "Enable all" option off. Later in the code, the "Reset all" option is toggled on. The pulldown menu itself is updated in the WRITE statement to the MENU format, which sets the selection indicators and available or unavailable items.

In the same section, indicators *IN22 and *IN23 are set. These indicators are used to condition menu-bar items in the MENUBAR record format. The updated menu-bar format is displayed when the EXFMT statement at the beginning of the MNUBAR subroutine, is executed again.

Multiple-choice Menu Design Considerations

I can't recall ever having encountered a multiple-choice pulldown menu, and I had to contrive this example to show how one works. Multiple-choice fields in GDDS will more typically be used in what Windows refers to as a "dialog box," not in a menu. The idea with a menu is that the user can make one choice to cause one action. More properly done, this example would have a menu option that perhaps would read "Specify menu-bar options." Selecting that option would pop up a window in which you would make the multiple-choice selections.

Although the capability exists, it should not be used for user-oriented menus. As you can see from the example, a considerable amount of definition and processing is associated with a multiple-choice field, compared to the single- choice menus we will look at next. Also, you introduce an extra step when you use a multiple-choice menu, because you must examine each of the control fields associated with the menu. In single-choice menus, you can determine the menu item that was selected in the menu-bar format itself.

Single-choice Menu

A single-choice menu is the most commonly used type of pulldown menu. A single- choice menu does not limit you to only one choice displayed on the menu. The phrase "single-choice menu" means that you can make one choice from a list of possible choices. Examples of single-choice menus are the USER and OPTN record formats in 1.

A single-choice menu is the most commonly used type of pulldown menu. A single- choice menu does not limit you to only one choice displayed on the menu. The phrase "single-choice menu" means that you can make one choice from a list of possible choices. Examples of single-choice menus are the USER and OPTN record formats in Figure 1.

These formats are pulldown menus by virtue of the PULLDOWN record-level keyword. Because they are pulldown menus, they also define a two-byte, numeric selection field. The field-level keyword that defines these formats is SNGCHCFLD (single-choice field). Like the MENU format, this is followed by a list of CHOICE keywords that define the menu-item choices. You can optionally define and use CHCCTL keywords on a single-choice field, as shown in the USER menu with control field CTL04. (In the example, it is defined in the file but not used in the program.) Remember that in multiple-choice fields, CHCCTL keywords and control fields are required.

Both the USER and OPTN formats contain other features that control how the menu items are displayed. Except for the CHCACCEL keyword, these features can also be used on the multiple-choice field menu format.

The first feature is conditioning indicator *IN31 used in format USER for choice 3. This works similarly to the conditioning indicators used on the menu- bar format. If the indicator is off when the format is displayed, the selection is not displayed and the user cannot select the option. This is in contrast to setting the availability and unavailability of an item with CHCCTL control- field settings.

The second feature is the use of the program-to-system field in format OPTN to specify the text used for a menu item. In that format, the CHOICE keyword specifies field OPTNTX as the field in the same record format containing the text to be displayed for the menu item. As described last month for menu-bar item text, you can use the program-to-system field when you need to change the text for different national language versions. In the example program, the text is being toggled between two settings.

The choice accelerator keyword (CHCACCEL) can only be used for a single-choice menu item. It is used to associate text describing a function key with a menu option. In the example, it is used on the OPTN menu to associate the text "F11" with the CHOICE field identified by number 1. The use of CHCACCEL does not bind the function key to the choice. It is up to your program to make the association between the function key and the related menu item. You can see this in the program by examining both the processing for the OPTN menu (MNUFLD equal to 3) and the processing for F11 (*INKK is on). In both cases, the program calls the same subroutine to perform the processing.

It is important that you define the function key at the level where you want it used. In this case, CA11 (F11) is defined as a file-level keyword, meaning that it is available when any of the record formats are displayed. If you want to limit it to being valid only when the OPTN format is displayed, define it as a record-level keyword. You should generally define function keys used as accelerators at the file level, since your users will expect to be able to use the accelerator at any point.

You cannot condition the CHCACCEL keyword. However, if you want to control the display of the text, you can use the form of the CHCACCEL keyword in which the text is defined in a program-to-system field. That way, you can dynamically "reassign" the function keys (although all you are actually "assigning" is different text) or indicate unavailability of an accelerator by putting blanks into the program-to-system field. It is still up to your program to identify and process the accelerator key.

Design Considerations for Displaying Menu Items

The example menus show two different techniques you can use to control how menu items are displayed. The first method is to condition the CHOICE keyword field. When conditioned, the text is either displayed or not. The second method is to mark a choice as selected, available or unavailable with the CHCCTL keyword.

You should use the first method, conditioning the CHOICE field, when an option may or may not be available depending on certain external criteria. For example, your application might have a menu option for "Change" that users with a certain level of authorization can use. Users with lower levels of authorization will never be allowed to use the Change function. Rather than simply mark the menu item as unavailable for those users, you can condition the choice so that it is never displayed.

For choices that are toggled available and unavailable during execution of the program, you should use the CHCCTL method. Although at first this seems to be more work, it is the preferred method of indicating to the user the various program options and their current state.

An excellent example of this is readily available in most word processing programs on the Edit menu. Most programs include Cut, Copy and Paste functions. Those options are usually "grayed" (unavailable) until a section of text is marked in the document. Once the text is marked, the options are available on the Edit menu.

The advantage to marking options as unavailable is that a user can learn about the capabilities of the program by browsing through the menus. For example, if a word processing program's Cut, Copy and Paste options were never displayed until a text selection is made, the user might never realize that such functions are available at some point in the program.

No-choice Menus

The final example is the "no-choice" pulldown menu-the EXIT menu format, in this example. This menu is associated with the Exit! menu-bar item. The concept behind this menu-bar item is that the action (exit) will be performed when the user selects the item. There are no additional options to be selected.

To make this work, we use the optional return-field parameter on the associated MNUBARCHC keyword. Because we want Exit! to show up as a menu-bar item, we have to define a MNUBARCHC keyword. We also have to define a valid pulldown menu for the keyword. We meet the requirement for the valid pulldown menu with the EXIT format, which contains nothing other than the record-format identifier and the PULLDOWN keyword. We tell the system that we want control to return to the program when Exit! is selected by including the EXITRF return field in the menu bar record.

When the user selects Exit!, the value 99 is placed into EXITRF. Fields MNUFLD and OPTION in format MENUBAR are set to zero. As shown in 3, the program can test for that special case.

When the user selects Exit!, the value 99 is placed into EXITRF. Fields MNUFLD and OPTION in format MENUBAR are set to zero. As shown in Figure 3, the program can test for that special case.

You generally will not have any no-choice return fields; if you do, they will probably be for functions similar to the exit function shown here. If you find that you are creating a menu bar with more than one no-choice return field, you should consider putting those choices into their own pulldown menu.

You can also decide if you should in fact create a pulldown menu for just one choice, as shown in the OPTN menu. In that menu, we created a single-item menu because we wanted to have room to describe the option that is available. Rather than take up room on the menu bar itself with a long description, the description is pushed down into the pulldown menu. The design consideration then becomes a matter of looking at your pulldown menus. If you are creating more than one single-item menu, you should consider consolidating those into one menu.

Overall Considerations

The new DDS keywords for menu-bar and pulldown definition make it practical to add these special types of record formats to AS/400 applications. But in order to use menus effectively, you may have to look at your applications and design differently.

As it is, we are used to designing applications within the 24 function keys. You need to allocate room at the bottom of the display for the function-key legend and create code to display additional keys (unless you are using UIM, which takes care of this for you). An additional constraint that is particularly sharp for software vendors is that a great many of those keys are already "assigned" by virtue of SAA/CUA standards. My experience with providing software to customers indicates they are harshly critical of nonstandard function-key usage.

It is unfortunate that DDS menu capabilities are being added at such a late date. At this time, it is difficult to say if it is worth adding the menus to existing applications, since an increasing amount of application development will be done with PC front-ends that already provide this support. However, if you will be maintaining a base of code for quite a while, and especially if you are developing new code, you should look very closely at GDDS menus. It is an advantageous situation for both the application developer and for users. The developer can free himself from the constraints of a function-key model of application design. Users can take advantage of an interface that's easier to use and that still incorporates function keys, by means of using the function keys as "accelerators" for menu items.

When you do start to use GDDS menus, give serious consideration to the idea of putting the menu part of the application into its own program. It is far easier to develop and maintain an application in this manner than the usual technique of bundling all of the interface processing with the code that actually "does something."

Craig Pelkie can be reached through Midrange Computing.

References Creating a Graphical Look with DDS (SC41-0104, CD-ROM (V2R2) QBKA7M00; also available as V2R2 PTF SF12632). DDS Reference (SC41-9620, CD-ROM QBKA7402). Goerdt, Dan. "DDS Goes Graphical," MC, July 1993. Guide to Programming Displays (SC41-0011, CD-ROM QBKA7902).

Menu Design & Implementation w/ Graphical DDS: #2

Figure 1 DDS for Menu-bar and Pulldown-menu Support

 A*=============================================================== A* To compile: A* A* CRTDSPF FILE(XXX/GUI004DF) SRCFILE(XXX/QDDSSRC) A* A*=============================================================== A CA11 A WDWBORDER((*CHAR ' ||---')) A VLDCMDKEY(91 'VLDCMDKEY') A**************************************************************** A* Record format ASSUME - define ASSUME keyword for file A**************************************************************** A R ASSUME TEXT('ASSUME record') A ASSUME A 1 2' ' A**************************************************************** A* Record format MENUBAR - Menu bar definition A**************************************************************** A R MENUBAR TEXT('Menu Bar record') A INDTXT(22 'Enable USER format') A INDTXT(23 'Enable OPTN format') A OVERLAY A MNUBAR A MNUBARDSP(&OPTION) A MNUFLD 2Y 0B 1 2TEXT('Menu choice field') A MNUBARSEP((*DSPATR UL) + A (*CHAR ' ')) A 22 MNUBARCHC( 2 USER '>User') A 23 MNUBARCHC( 3 OPTN '>Options') A MNUBARCHC(99 EXIT 'E>xit!' &EXITRF) A MNUBARCHC( 1 MENU '>Menu') A OPTION 2S 0H TEXT('Selection in PULLDOWN') A EXITRF 2Y 0H TEXT('Return field from Exit') A**************************************************************** A* Record format MENU - Menu pulldown A**************************************************************** A R MENU TEXT('MENU pulldown') A PULLDOWN A MSEL 2Y 0B 1 1TEXT('MENU selection field') A MLTCHCFLD A CHOICE( 1 '>User tasks') A CHOICE( 2 'Set >Options') A CHOICE(91 '>Enable all') A CHOICE(92 '>Reset all') A CHOICE(99 'E>xit') A CHCCTL( 1 &CTL01) A CHCCTL( 2 &CTL02) A CHCCTL(91 &CTL91) A CHCCTL(92 &CTL92) A CHCCTL(99 &CTL99) A CTL01 1Y 0H TEXT('CHCCTL for User tasks') A CTL02 1Y 0H TEXT('CHCCTL for Options') A CTL91 1Y 0H TEXT('CHCCTL for Enable all') A CTL92 1Y 0H TEXT('CHCCTL for Reset all') A CTL99 1Y 0H TEXT('CHCCTL for Exit') A**************************************************************** A* Record format USER - User pulldown A**************************************************************** A R USER TEXT('USER pulldown') A PULLDOWN A INDTXT(31 'Condition WRKACTJOB') A USESEL 2Y 0B 1 1TEXT('USER menu selection') A SNGCHCFLD A CHOICE(1 'Work with >Job queues') A CHOICE(2 'Work with >Output queues') A 31 CHOICE(3 'WRK>ACTJOB') A CHOICE(4 'WRK>SYSSTS' *SPACEB) A CHCCTL(4 &CTL04) A CTL04 1Y 0H TEXT('CHCCTL for WRKSYSSTS') A**************************************************************** A* Record format OPTN - Set Options pulldown A**************************************************************** A R OPTN TEXT('OPTN pulldown') A PULLDOWN A OPTSEL 2Y 0B 1 1TEXT('OPTN menu selection') A SNGCHCFLD A CHOICE(1 &OPTNTX) A CHCACCEL(1 'F11') A OPTNTX 35 P TEXT('Option text field') A**************************************************************** A* Record format EXIT - Exit menu pulldown A**************************************************************** A R EXIT TEXT('EXIT') A PULLDOWN 
Menu Design & Implementation w/ Graphical DDS: #2

Figure 2 Values Used for CHCCTL Control Fields

 Value Output Input 0 Available Unselected 1 Selected Selected 2 Unavailable 
Menu Design & Implementation w/ Graphical DDS: #2

Figure 3 RPG Code for Menu-bar and Pulldown-menu Support

 *=============================================================== * To compile: * * CRTRPGPGM PGM(XXX/GUI004RG) SRCFILE(XXX/QRPGSRC) * *=============================================================== *. 1 ...+... 2 ...+... 3 ...+... 4 ...+... 5 ...+... 6 ...+... 7 FGUI004DFCF E WORKSTN I 'Enable WRKACTJOB in -C ENATXT I 'User menu' I 'Disable WRKACTJOB - C DISTXT I 'in User menu' C* C *ON DOWEQ*ON C EXSR MNUBAR C ENDDO C* C***************************************************** C* Initialize program, set choices in menu formats C***************************************************** C* C *INZSR BEGSR C Z-ADD2 CTL92 *Disable Reset C WRITEMENU *Initialize fmt C* C MOVEL*OFF *IN31 *Disable WRKACT C WRITEUSER *Initialize fmt C* C MOVELENATXT OPTNTX *Set OPTN text C WRITEOPTN *Initialize fmt C ENDSR C* C***************************************************** C* Display/process menu bar C***************************************************** C* C MNUBAR BEGSR C EXFMTMENUBAR C SELEC C* C***************************************************** C* Process Valid Command Key - across all menus C***************************************************** C* C *IN91 WHEQ *ON *VLDCMDKEY C EXSR CMDKEY C* C***************************************************** C* Process MENU format - must read for MLTCHCFLD C***************************************************** C* C MNUFLD WHEQ 1 *MENU format C READ MENU 9999*99 - ERR/EOF C* C CTL99 IFEQ 1 *EXIT C MOVEL*ON *INLR C RETRN C ENDIF C* C SELEC C CTL91 WHEQ 1 *Enable all C Z-ADD1 CTL01 *Selected C Z-ADD1 CTL02 *Selected C Z-ADD2 CTL91 *Unavailable C* C CTL92 WHEQ 1 *Reset all C MSEL OREQ 0 *No selections C Z-ADD0 CTL01 *Available C Z-ADD0 CTL02 *Available C Z-ADD0 CTL91 *Available C Z-ADD2 CTL92 *Unavailable C ENDSL C* C SETOF 2223 *Do not display C* C CTL01 IFEQ 1 *USER menu C SETON 22 *Display C Z-ADD0 CTL92 *Enable Reset C ENDIF C* C CTL02 IFEQ 1 *OPTN menu C SETON 23 *Display C Z-ADD0 CTL92 *Enable Reset C ENDIF C* C WRITEMENU *Update menu C* C***************************************************** C* Process USER menu C***************************************************** C* C MNUFLD WHEQ 2 *USER menu C* C***************************************************** C* Process OPTN menu C***************************************************** C* C MNUFLD WHEQ 3 *OPTN menu C SELEC C OPTION WHEQ 1 *Selected Opt 1 C EXSR SETOPT C ENDSL C* C***************************************************** C* Process EXIT menu C***************************************************** C* C EXITRF WHEQ 99 *EXIT menu C MOVEL*ON *INLR C RETRN C ENDSL C* C ENDSR C* C***************************************************** C* Process valid command keys C***************************************************** C* C CMDKEY BEGSR C *INKK IFEQ *ON *CF11 C EXSR SETOPT C ENDIF C ENDSR C* C***************************************************** C* Set options for USER and OPTN menu C***************************************************** C* C SETOPT BEGSR C CLEAROPTNTX *OPTN text C* C *IN31 IFEQ *OFF *WRKACT disabld C MOVEL*ON *IN31 *Enable WRKACT C MOVELDISTXT OPTNTX *Set text C ELSE *WRKACT enabled C MOVEL*OFF *IN31 *Disable WRKACT C MOVELENATXT OPTNTX *Set text C ENDIF C* C WRITEUSER *Update menu C WRITEOPTN *Update menu C* C ENDSR *. 1 ...+... 2 ...+... 3 ...+... 4 ...+... 5 ...+... 6 ...+... 7 






  • Mobile Computing and the IBM i

    SB ASNA PPL 5450Mobile computing is rapidly maturing into a solid platform for delivering enterprise applications. Many IBM i shops today are realizing that integrating their IBM i with mobile applications is the fast path to improved business workflows, better customer relations, and more responsive business reporting.

    This ASNA whitepaper takes a look at mobile computing for the IBM i. It discusses the different ways mobile applications may be used within the enterprise and how ASNA products solve the challenges mobile presents. It also presents the case that you already have the mobile programming team your projects need: that team is your existing RPG development team!

    Get your copy today!

  • Automate IBM i Operations using Wireless Devices

    DDL SystemsDownload the technical whitepaper on MANAGING YOUR IBM i WIRELESSLY and (optionally) register to download an absolutely FREE software trail. This whitepaper provides an in-depth review of the native IBM i technology and ACO MONITOR's advanced two-way messaging features to remotely manage your IBM i while in or away from the office. Notify on-duty personnel of system events and remotely respond to complex problems (via your Smartphone) before they become critical-24/7. Problem solved!

    Order your copy here.

  • DR Strategy Guide from Maxava: Brand New Edition - now fully updated to include Cloud!


    Download your free copy of DR Strategy Guide for IBM i from Maxava today.


  • White Paper: Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization

    SB Profound WP 5539

    If your business is thinking about modernizing your legacy IBM i (also known as AS/400 or iSeries) applications, you will want to read this white paper first!

    Download this paper and learn how Node.js can ensure that you:
    - Modernize on-time and budget - no more lengthy, costly, disruptive app rewrites!
    - Retain your IBM i systems of record
    - Find and hire new development talent
    - Integrate new Node.js applications with your existing RPG, Java, .Net, and PHP apps
    - Extend your IBM i capabilties to include Watson API, Cloud, and Internet of Things

    Read Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization Now!


  • 2020 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results


    This year marks the sixth edition of the popular IBM i Marketplace Survey Results. Each year, HelpSystems sets out to gather data about how businesses use the IBM i platform and the IT initiatives it supports. Year over year, the survey has begun to reveal long-term trends that give insight into the future of this trusted technology.

    More than 500 IBM i users from around the globe participated in this year’s survey, and we’re so happy to share the results with you. We hope you’ll find the information interesting and useful as you evaluate your own IT projects.

  • AIX Security Basics eCourse

    Core Security

    With so many organizations depending on AIX day to day, ensuring proper security and configuration is critical to ensure the safety of your environment. Don’t let common threats put your critical AIX servers at risk. Avoid simple mistakes and start to build a long-term plan with this AIX Security eCourse. Enroll today to get easy to follow instructions on topics like:

    • Removing extraneous files
    • Patching systems efficiently
    • Setting and validating permissions
    • Managing service considerations
    • Getting overall visibility into your networks


  • Developer Kit: Making a Business Case for Modernization and Beyond

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.

    Having trouble getting management approval for modernization projects? The problem may be you're not speaking enough "business" to them.

    This Developer Kit provides you study-backed data and a ready-to-use business case template to help get your very next development project approved!

  • What to Do When Your AS/400 Talent Retires

    HelpSystemsIT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators is small.

    This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn:

    • Why IBM i skills depletion is a top concern
    • How leading organizations are coping
    • Where automation will make the biggest impact


  • IBM i Resources Retiring?

    SB HelpSystems WC GenericLet’s face it: IBM i experts and RPG programmers are retiring from the workforce. Are you prepared to handle their departure?
    Our panel of IBM i experts—Chuck Losinski, Robin Tatam, Richard Schoen, and Tom Huntington—will outline strategies that allow your company to cope with IBM i skills depletion by adopting these strategies that allow you to get the job done without deep expertise on the OS:
    - Automate IBM i processes
    - Use managed services to help fill the gaps
    - Secure the system against data loss and viruses
    The strategies you discover in this webinar will help you ensure that your system of record—your IBM i—continues to deliver a powerful business advantage, even as staff retires.


  • Backup and Recovery Considerations for Security Data and Encrypted Backups

    SB PowerTech WC GenericSecurity expert Carol Woodbury is joined by Debbie Saugen. Debbie is an expert on IBM i backup and recovery, disaster recovery, and high availability, helping IBM i shops build and implement effective business continuity plans.
    In today’s business climate, business continuity is more important than ever. But 83 percent of organizations are not totally confident in their backup strategy.
    During this webinar, Carol and Debbie discuss the importance of a good backup plan, how to ensure you’re backing up your security information, and your options for encrypted back-ups.

  • Profound.js: The Agile Approach to Legacy Modernization

    SB Profound WC GenericIn this presentation, Alex Roytman and Liam Allan will unveil a completely new and unique way to modernize your legacy applications. Learn how Agile Modernization:
    - Uses the power of Node.js in place of costly system re-writes and migrations
    - Enables you to modernize legacy systems in an iterative, low-risk manner
    - Makes it easier to hire developers for your modernization efforts
    - Integrates with Profound UI (GUI modernization) for a seamless, end-to-end legacy modernization solution


  • Data Breaches: Is IBM i Really at Risk?

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIBM i is known for its security, but this OS could be more vulnerable than you think.
    Although Power Servers often live inside the safety of the perimeter firewall, the risk of suffering a data leak or data corruption remains high.
    Watch noted IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he discusses common ways that this supposedly “secure” operating system may actually be vulnerable and who the culprits might be.

    Watch the webinar today!


  • Easy Mobile Development

    SB Profound WC GenericWatch this on-demand webinar and learn how to rapidly and easily deploy mobile apps to your organization – even when working with legacy RPG code! IBM Champion Scott Klement will demonstrate how to:
    - Develop RPG applications without mobile development experience
    - Deploy secure applications for any mobile device
    - Build one application for all platforms, including Apple and Android
    - Extend the life and reach of your IBM i (aka iSeries, AS400) platform
    You’ll see examples from customers who have used our products and services to deliver the mobile applications of their dreams, faster and easier than they ever thought possible!


  • Profound UI: Unlock True Modernization from your IBM i Enterprise

    SB Profound PPL 5491Modern, web-based applications can make your Enterprise more efficient, connected and engaged. This session will demonstrate how the Profound UI framework is the best and most native way to convert your existing RPG applications and develop new modern applications for your business. Additionally, you will learn how you can address modernization across your Enterprise, including databases and legacy source code, with Profound Logic.

  • Node Webinar Series Pt. 1: The World of Node.js on IBM i

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

    Part 1 will teach you what Node.js is, why it's a great option for IBM i shops, and how to take advantage of the ecosystem surrounding Node.

    In addition to background information, our Director of Product Development Scott Klement will demonstrate applications that take advantage of the Node Package Manager (npm).

  • 5 New and Unique Ways to Use the IBM i Audit Journal

    SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericYou must be asking yourself: am I doing everything I can to protect my organization’s data? Tune in as our panel of IBM i high availability experts discuss:

    - Why companies don’t test role swaps when they know they should
    - Whether high availability in the cloud makes sense for IBM i users
    - Why some organizations don’t have high availability yet
    - How to get high availability up and running at your organization
    - High availability considerations for today’s security concerns

  • Profound.js 2.0: Extend the Power of Node to your IBM i Applications

    SB Profound WC 5541In this Webinar, we'll demonstrate how Profound.js 2.0 enables you to easily adopt Node.js in your business, and to take advantage of the many benefits of Node, including access to a much larger pool of developers for IBM i and access to countless reusable open source code packages on npm (Node Package Manager).
    You will see how Profound.js 2.0 allows you to:

    • Provide RPG-like capabilities for server-side JavaScript.
    • Easily create web and mobile application interfaces for Node on IBM i.
    • Let existing RPG programs call Node.js modules directly, and vice versa.
    • Automatically generate code for Node.js.
    • Automatically converts existing RPGLE code into clean, simplified Node.js code.

    Download and watch today!


  • Make Modern Apps You'll Love with Profound UI & Profound.js

    SB Profound WC 5541Whether you have green screens or a drab GUI, your outdated apps can benefit from modern source code, modern GUIs, and modern tools.
    Profound Logic's Alex Roytman and Liam Allan are here to show you how Free-format RPG and Node.js make it possible to deliver applications your whole business will love:

    • Transform legacy RPG code to modern free-format RPG and Node.js
    • Deliver truly modern application interfaces with Profound UI
    • Extend your RPG applications to include Web Services and NPM packages with Node.js


  • Accelerating Programmer Productivity with Sequel


    Most business intelligence tools are just that: tools, a means to an end but not an accelerator. Yours could even be slowing you down. But what if your BI tool didn't just give you a platform for query-writing but also improved programmer productivity?
    Watch the recorded webinar to see how Sequel:

    • Makes creating complex results simple
    • Eliminates barriers to data sources
    • Increases flexibility with data usage and distribution

    Accelerated productivity makes everyone happy, from programmer to business user.

  • Business Intelligence is Changing: Make Your Game Plan

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIt’s time to develop a strategy that will help you meet your informational challenges head-on. Watch the webinar to learn how to set your IT department up for business intelligence success. You’ll learn how the right data access tool will help you:

    • Access IBM i data faster
    • Deliver useful information to executives and business users
    • Empower users with secure data access

    Ready to make your game plan and finally keep up with your data access requests?


  • Controlling Insider Threats on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericLet’s face facts: servers don’t hack other servers. Despite the avalanche of regulations, news headlines remain chock full of stories about data breaches, all initiated by insiders or intruders masquerading as insiders.
    User profiles are often duplicated or restored and are rarely reviewed for the appropriateness of their current configuration. This increases the risk of the profile being able to access data without the intended authority or having privileges that should be reserved for administrators.
    Watch security expert Robin Tatam as he discusses a new approach for onboarding new users on IBM i and best-practices techniques for managing and monitoring activities after they sign on.

  • Don't Just Settle for Query/400...

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWhile introducing Sequel Data Access, we’ll address common frustrations with Query/400, discuss major data access, distribution trends, and more advanced query tools. Plus, you’ll learn how a tool like Sequel lightens IT’s load by:

    - Accessing real-time data, so you can make real-time decisions
    - Providing run-time prompts, so users can help themselves
    - Delivering instant results in Microsoft Excel and PDF, without the wait
    - Automating the query process with on-demand data, dashboards, and scheduled jobs

  • How to Manage Documents the Easy Way

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWhat happens when your company depends on an outdated document management strategy?
    Everything is harder.
    You don’t need to stick with status quo anymore.
    Watch the webinar to learn how to put effective document management into practice and:

    • Capture documents faster, instead of wasting everyone’s time
    • Manage documents easily, so you can always find them
    • Distribute documents automatically, and move on to the next task


  • Lessons Learned from the AS/400 Breach

    SB_PowerTech_WC_GenericGet actionable info to avoid becoming the next cyberattack victim.
    In “Data breach digest—Scenarios from the field,” Verizon documented an AS/400 security breach. Whether you call it AS/400, iSeries, or IBM i, you now have proof that the system has been breached.
    Watch IBM i security expert Robin Tatam give an insightful discussion of the issues surrounding this specific scenario.
    Robin will also draw on his extensive cybersecurity experience to discuss policies, processes, and configuration details that you can implement to help reduce the risk of your system being the next victim of an attack.

  • Overwhelmed by Operating Systems?

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this 30-minute recorded webinar, our experts demonstrate how you can:

    • Manage multiple platforms from a central location
    • View monitoring results in a single pane of glass on your desktop or mobile device
    • Take advantage of best practice, plug-and-play monitoring templates
    • Create rules to automate daily checks across your entire infrastructure
    • Receive notification if something is wrong or about to go wrong

    This presentation includes a live demo of Network Server Suite.


  • Real-Time Disk Monitoring with Robot Monitor

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericYou need to know when IBM i disk space starts to disappear and where it has gone before system performance and productivity start to suffer. Our experts will show you how Robot Monitor can help you pinpoint exactly when your auxiliary storage starts to disappear and why, so you can start taking a proactive approach to disk monitoring and analysis. You’ll also get insight into:

    • The main sources of disk consumption
    • How to monitor temporary storage and QTEMP objects in real time
    • How to monitor objects and libraries in real time and near-real time
    • How to track long-term disk trends



  • Stop Re-keying Data Between IBM I and Other Applications

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericMany business still depend on RPG for their daily business processes and report generation.Wouldn’t it be nice if you could stop re-keying data between IBM i and other applications? Or if you could stop replicating data and start processing orders faster? Or what if you could automatically extract data from existing reports instead of re-keying? It’s all possible. Watch this webinar to learn about:

    • The data dilemma
    • 3 ways to stop re-keying data
    • Data automation in practice

    Plus, see how HelpSystems data automation software will help you stop re-keying data.


  • The Top Five RPG Open Access Myths....BUSTED!

    SB_Profound_WC_GenericWhen it comes to IBM Rational Open Access: RPG Edition, there are still many misconceptions - especially where application modernization is concerned!

    In this Webinar, we'll address some of the biggest myths about RPG Open Access, including:

    • Modernizing with RPG OA requires significant changes to the source code
    • The RPG language is outdated and impractical for modernizing applications
    • Modernizing with RPG OA is the equivalent to "screen scraping"


  • Time to Remove the Paper from Your Desk and Become More Efficient

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericToo much paper is wasted. Attempts to locate documents in endless filing cabinets.And distributing documents is expensive and takes up far too much time.
    These are just three common reasons why it might be time for your company to implement a paperless document management system.
    Watch the webinar to learn more and discover how easy it can be to:

    • Capture
    • Manage
    • And distribute documents digitally


  • IBM i: It’s Not Just AS/400


    IBM’s Steve Will talks AS/400, POWER9, cognitive systems, and everything in between

    Are there still companies that use AS400? Of course!

    IBM i was built on the same foundation.
    Watch this recorded webinar with IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will and IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington to gain a unique perspective on the direction of this platform, including:

    • IBM i development strategies in progress at IBM
    • Ways that Watson will shake hands with IBM i
    • Key takeaways from the AS/400 days


  • Ask the RDi Experts

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWatch this recording where Jim Buck, Susan Gantner, and Charlie Guarino answered your questions, including:

    • What are the “hidden gems” in RDi that can make me more productive?
    • What makes RDi Debug better than the STRDBG green screen debugger?
    • How can RDi help me find out if I’ve tested all lines of a program?
    • What’s the best way to transition from PDM to RDi?
    • How do I convince my long-term developers to use RDi?

    This is a unique, online opportunity to hear how you can get more out of RDi.


  • Node.js on IBM i Webinar Series Pt. 2: Setting Up Your Development Tools

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. In Part 2, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Attend this webinar to learn:

    • Different tools to develop Node.js applications on IBM i
    • Debugging Node.js
    • The basics of Git and tools to help those new to it
    • Using as a pre-built development environment



  • Inside the Integrated File System (IFS)

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericDuring this webinar, you’ll learn basic tips, helpful tools, and integrated file system commands—including WRKLNK—for managing your IFS directories and Access Client Solutions (ACS). We’ll answer your most pressing IFS questions, including:

    • What is stored inside my IFS directories?
    • How do I monitor the IFS?
    • How do I replicate the IFS or back it up?
    • How do I secure the IFS?

    Understanding what the integrated file system is and how to work with it must be a critical part of your systems management plans for IBM i.


  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.



  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • How to Meet the Newest Encryption Requirements on IBM i

    SB PowerTech WC GenericA growing number of compliance mandates require sensitive data to be encrypted. But what kind of encryption solution will satisfy an auditor and how can you implement encryption on IBM i? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how to meet today’s most common encryption requirements on IBM i. You’ll also learn:

    • Why disk encryption isn’t enough
    • What sets strong encryption apart from other solutions
    • Important considerations before implementing encryption



  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.



  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access




  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.


  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.



  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.



  • Comply in 5! Well, actually UNDER 5 minutes!!

    SB CYBRA PPL 5382

    TRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms.

    Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product.

    Request your trial now!

  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.