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Client Access and IBM's Java Initiative: Which Way Is Up?

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Recently, in this column, I asked you—the Client Access/400 Expert readers—to solve a problem. CA/400 is changing rapidly, the AS/400 is evolving quickly, and IBM is pushing the connectivity envelope with Java and Java-enabled clients. Where should this newsletter be going? We’ve evolved from a small publication dedicated to showing our readers how to configure IBM’s Client Access/400 product into something new and different. Just as IBM has developed its AS/400 connectivity strategy beyond simple twinaxial connections, so too has Client Access/400 Expert developed. Today, the publication focuses on all sorts of heterogeneous connectivity options, including TCP/IP, Microsoft SNA Server, Novell NetWare for SAA, and OS/2 Communications Manager. It seems that the technical team of Client Access/400 developers at IBM’s Rochester facility has now reached a crossroad. This crossroad is important to those of us who use CA/400, and it also affects the future of Client Access/400 Expert. What is this crossroad and why is it so important? According to well-publicized reports coming from Rochester, IBM is positioning CA/400 as the product to solve the needs of Microsoft Windows-based clients. This strategy capitalizes on IBM’s Project Lightning, a code project designed to provide record-level access to the AS/400 DB2/400 database. It enables record-level access through APIs and Windows wizards that interact with Microsoft client compilers, such as Visual Basic. These APIs enable software developers to create powerful Visual Basic client/server applications with point-and-click accuracy. It’s a great project, and it sets the standard for client/server interoperability between the AS/400 and Microsoft Windows applications.

That’s where Client Access/400 is headed, but what about IBM’s other connectivity initiatives? What about IBM’s Java initiative and the Lotus Domino Server? What about OS/2, Novell, and the legions of other connectivity options that make our AS/400 sites productive? Don’t these connectivity tools and techniques also offer good methodologies for connecting to the AS/400? The answer that seems to be coming from the CA/400 engineers is, “Yes, of course, but...”

While IBM as a company is committed to these other strategic projects, IBM’s Client Access/400 team will continue to focus on its Microsoft Windows/Project Lightning strategy. In other words, Client Access/400 will remain primarily a Windows- centric product, while other IBM products will explore the new and exciting connectivity options, including Java. That probably means no Java implementation for CA/400.

This situation creates a dilemma for those of us who read and write the pages of Client Access/400 Expert. Our jobs demand that we know about more than just Client Access/400. Where will Client Access/400 Expert go? We will go where you—the loyal subscribers—lead us. Your emails and telephone calls invariably lead us to new and interesting topics. In the past, these topics have included Lotus Domino, OS/2, and—of course—Java. In other words, your interests are not necessarily directly related to IBM’s CA/400 product.

Bearing all these things in mind, we will be soon making two changes to the Client Access/400 Expert newsletter. Starting with our next issue, Joe Hertvik will assume the role of editor. Joe’s been a regular contributor to this newsletter for years, and his focus is the real-life environments of AS/400 IT shops—not just IBM’s CA/400 product. The second change, due later this year, will be the renaming of the newsletter. We’re still searching for just the right moniker, and we’re actively canvassing for suggestions. Just as the number of loyal subscribers has increased over the years, so too has the number of emails we respond to each month. Type up one more and suggest a new name for our newsletter. Tell us what you think about where we are and where we should be headed. You’ll never have a better opportunity to have your voice heard.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last two years at the helm of Client Access/400 Expert, but as the new editor in chief of Midrange Computing, I’ll have a chance to steer all the company’s publications in the direction that will make them most useful for AS/400 shops. I will bring the lessons learned from this newsletter forum to all our magazines and newsletters. Fortunately for me, I’ll still be writing occasionally for Client Access/400 Expert, and still answering your emails. In fact, the only thing I’ll have lost is the opportunity to print my ideas on page 2 of each issue.

Send me your thoughts, your suggestions, your emails, and your problems. We’re still dedicated to being the best client/server connectivity newsletter in the industry. You can always reach me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Don’t forget to note that you’re a Client Access/400 Expert subscriber. I’ll make certain your technical questions are answered as quickly as possible. After all, that’s what this publication is all about.

Thomas Stockwell

Thomas M. Stockwell is an independent IT analyst and writer. He is the former Editor in Chief of MC Press Online and Midrange Computing magazine and has over 20 years of experience as a programmer, systems engineer, IT director, industry analyst, author, speaker, consultant, and editor.  


Tom works from his home in the Napa Valley in California. He can be reached at ITincendiary.com.





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