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Beef Up Client Access Macros with VBScript

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Now, class, does everyone know what a macro is? A macro is a sequence of keyboard and/or mouse actions that can be executed as a single action. These actions and commands can also help simplify some of your everyday functions. For example, you can have a macro automatically sign onto your AS/400 session, run AS/400 commands, and even transfer files. The list goes on and on. To make using macros even easier, you can attach them to a hot spot on your PC5250 session, to specific keys on your keyboard, or to a button on a pop-up keypad, or you can even create a toolbar icon in your Client Access 5250 session.

Macros have been part of Client Access and its 5250 emulation package since that product was first rolled out to the AS/400 community. One interesting thing I discovered on my hike through macro land is that you can create a macro using VBScript. The VBScript engine is automatically installed as part of the Client Access base. Scripts allow for more functional performance by using logic that is not available in standard macros. This article shows you how to use VBScript to create scripts in Client Access PC5250.

What exactly is VBScript? VBScript is a watered-down version of Microsoft’s Visual Basic programming language. It doesn’t have all of the functionality that Visual Basic has but, rather, was created as a lightweight substitution for client control in Web development, namely for the Internet Explorer browser. VBScript is a scripting language that is interpreted, not compiled. This means that a program built with VBScript must be executed in an environment that contains the scripting language’s interpreter and cannot run as a standalone application. Behind the scenes, PC5250 passes a pointer to the text stream in the script, and the VBScript engine parses and filters everything and then interprets the data.

This article assumes that you already have some understanding of VBScript and its capabilities and focuses only on the PC5250 objects that can be used. For more information on using VBScript, visit the Microsoft Windows Script Technologies Web site at msdn.microsoft. com/scripting/default.htm. But before taking a peek at these PC5250 objects, I’ll explain the interface used to enter the statements for the scripts by jumping in and building a script. As you will see, it’s really not that difficult.

VBScript

Step by Step


Follow this step-by-step guide to build a PC5250 VBScript macro:

1. Start a Client Access 5250 emulation session. Please note that this works with both Client Access for Windows and Client Access Express. 2. From the 5250 emulation screen, select the menu option Assist.

3. Click Start Recording Macro.

4. In the Record Macro/Script As window, under File Name, type in signon.mac. For the description, enter auto signon to AS/400. Make sure that VBScript is selected under Record format. Click the OK button. 5. Type in a valid AS/400 user profile. Press Field Exit, if necessary, to get to the Password field. 6. Enter your AS/400 profile password. Press the Enter key.

7. Select menu option Assist again.

8. Select Stop Recording Macro.

9. Click Assist and select Macro/Script Setup.
10. In the Macro/Script Setup window, select signon (name of the script) under the Macro/Script drop-down box. Click the OK button. This macro will now automatically execute every time this PC5250 emulation session starts.

That wasn’t too painful, was it? Now take a look at the VBScript that was automatically built.

How to Customize Your VBScript Macro

Let me review the Customize Macro/Script window. This is the place where you can edit an existing macro/script or create a new one. To access the window, perform the following steps:

1. Click the Assist menu option.
2. Select Macro/Script Setup and, in the Macro/Script Setup window, click the Customize button.
3. In the Customize Macro/Script window, click menu option File/Open and find signon.mac.
4. Click the OK button. The window in Figure 1 (page 68) shows what your window should look like.

If you are familiar with VBScript, the Script Statements text box shouldn’t scare you away. On the other hand, if you’re not familiar with VBScript, this code may cause you some apprehension. Take a moment to study it. You’ll find that, except for some cryptic function names, VBScript is really quite easy to understand. If you find that you are still having problems understanding it, there are a lot of resources available to help you learn. Check the references section at the end of this article for some great resources.

The code shown in the Script Statements text box shows the steps that I recorded earlier for the sign-on script. The macro information was recorded and transformed into VBScript. By looking at the code, you should be able to decipher what is happening with each statement. The Select a Key Action box at the top of this panel allows you to add preexisting macros, keyboard characters, and PC5250 functions to your script. Please note that preexisting macros and keyboard characters cannot be added to your VBScripts, only to macros.

The PC5250 functions are what you really need to understand before you start using them in macros. These functions are the building blocks you use to put the scripts together. To understand which objects are available for you to use, check out Client Access’s Help Section under Script Statements. You now can start to piece together how you want your scripts to function. For the purposes of this discussion, there are two main


objects that you need to review before diving into another example: autECLConnMgr and autECLSession.

Using Objects

AutECLConnMgr is used to manage all personal communications sessions on a given PC. It contains methods relating to the management of sessions, such as starting sessions, stopping sessions, and querying the existing status of current sessions. AutECLSession is an object of autECLConnMgr and is a collection of information for each emulator session. It provides for general emulator-session-related services and contains other important objects in the Emulator Class Library. The Emulator Class Library (ECL) contains the objects provided in Client Access that allow your scripts to “talk” to the 5250 session. These key objects are as follows:

• AutECLPS is used to perform operations in the presentation space (PS), basically the entire window that you see for your 5250 session.

• AutECLOIA retrieves operator information area (OIA) information. These are flags located at the bottom of your screen. Some examples of things that reside in the OIA include Caps Lock, Num Lock, Message Waiting, and Input Inhibited.

• AutECLXfer allows file transfer to and from the PC.

• AutECLWinMetrics allows for manipulation of the current window session. You can access the window title, window size, and window state from this object, to name a few options.

Other key methods in both autECLPS and autECLOIA are the different types of wait conditions. You can wait for something to happen in the OIA or presentation space before continuing on with the script. You can find more information about these objects and their methods and properties in the Personal Communications help section of Client Access.

Once you have built your script in the Customize Macro/Script Window, you just save it. Go to the File menu option and select Save. If this is a new script, give it a name, provide a description, and press OK. Once the macro has been created, you can run it many different ways. You can attach your macro to a specific keyboard function, a 5250 pop-up keypad, a hot spot on your screen, or a mouse action by creating a toolbar item. Back on your 5250 session, you’ll see an Assist menu option. From this drop-down list, you can tie your macros to some of the previously listed functions.

Locating Your Macro Code

All macros are normally stored in the path c:program filesibmclient accessemulatorprivate on your PC and can be opened and edited with any text editor such as Notepad.exe. When you open one of these macro scripts, you’ll find header information at the top that will be similar to the following:

[PCOMM SCRIPT HEADER]
LANGUAGE=VBSCRIPT
DESCRIPTION=Midrange Computing Client Access VBScript demo
[PCOMM SCRIPT SOURCE]

OPTION EXPLICIT

The line [PCOMM SCRIPT HEADER] tells Client Access that this is a VBScript macro and not a PC5250 macro. The second line, LANGUAGE=VBSCRIPT, tells


PC5250 which script engine to load. IBM supports only VBScript at this time. DESCRIPTION gives the user a description of the macro and its function, and PCOMM SCRIPT SOURCE is the end of the header statement that gets passed on, along with the rest of the code, to the script engine. An examination of the actual VBScript code is the best way to see how these objects work with real-life examples.

Sample VBScript Macros

I’ve put together some sample VBScript macro code (Figure 2, page 69) that you can use to learn more about building your own VBScript macros. You can download this code from the MC Web site at www.midrangecomputing.com/mc. MSGBOX and INPUTBOX are built-in functions of the VBScript language and are used throughout the code. They are helpful because they provide a visual aid to the client. Included in the sample code is the following important information for PC5250 objects:

• How to build a list of active sessions—This is done with the autECLConnMgr.autECLConnList objects and properties. Figure 3 presents such a list.

• How to use some of the key objects from the autECLSession—AutECLWinMetrics, autECLOIA, and autECLPS use only a few of the many available properties available to you, but they’re a good example of how to get at the data. A message box produces some results for you based on whichever session was selected.

• How easy it is to start up additional AS/400 sessions—A validation routine runs in the background to verify that it is a valid session and, if so, starts up another 5250 emulation session.

Follow these steps to use the sample script:
1. Download the code from the Web. It can be found at www.midrangecomputing.com/mc. The file that is downloaded is a standard ASCII text file.
2. Open the text file in your favorite text editor.
3. Copy the entire contents of the file to your clipboard.
4. On your 5250 emulation screen, access Assist/Macro/Script Setup/Customize. You are now on the Customize Macro/Script window.
5. Select File/New/VB Script.
6. Now select menu option Edit/Paste. This will paste the script into the Script Statements text area.
7. Select File/Save and name the macro whatever you wish. Add a description and press the OK button to officially save it.
8. Now go back to your 5250 session. From your menu, select Assist/Start Playing Macro/Script. Choose the macro you just created and press OK.
9. Watch your macro in action.

Now It’s Your Turn

Well, there you have it. I’ve given you an overview of how VBScript works with Client Access. Another interesting fact about the VBScript engine is that you can create and use Component Object Model (COM) objects, too. COM is a software architecture that allows applications to “talk” to each other. ADO, or ActiveX Data Object, is an example of a COM object that can be used to manipulate databases on the AS/400 or any other platform in your scripts. Macros provide an easy way to automate routines for your AS/400 session, and, with the VBScript examples I’ve provided here and in the downloadable code, you are well on your way to creating them.


REFERENCES AND RELATED MATERIALS

• Microsoft Windows Script Technologies Web site: msdn.microsoft.com/scripting/default.htm (Select VBScript.)
• Teach Yourself VBScript in 21 Days. Keith Brophy and Tim Koets. Indianapolis, Indiana: Sams Publishing, 1996

Beef_Up_Client_Access_Macros_with_VBScript05-00.png 400x288

Figure 1: In the Customize Macro/Script window, you can view and edit a script or create a new one.

[PCOMM SCRIPT HEADER]
LANGUAGE=VBSCRIPT
DESCRIPTION=Midrange Computing Client Access VBScript demo
[PCOMM SCRIPT SOURCE]

call startup

'startup sub-routine
sub startup()

dim connection_message 'display message for user
dim connection_selected 'number of session you have selected
dim dft 'default session
dim number_of_connections 'number of AS400 connections
dim result 'answer
dim x 'counter

'run this refresh to get an accurate count of # of session objects
autECLConnMgr.autECLConnList.Refresh

'get number of active AS400 sessions
number_of_connections = autECLConnMgr.autECLConnList.Count

if number_of_connections > 0 then

'build string to show all of the active AS400 sessions on desktop

connection_message = " "

x = 1

do while x <= number_of_connections

if x = 1 then

dft = autECLConnMgr.autECLConnList(1).Name

end if

connection_message = connection_message & cstr(x) & _

") Session Name: " & autECLConnMgr.autECLConnList(x).Name & _

chr(13)

x = x + 1

loop

connection_message = connection_message & chr(13) & "99) Start New Session"


'show input box - get attributes of specific AS400 session or start new session

'this input box is displayed in Figure 2 of the article

result = inputbox(connection_message,"Select a Session for Attributes","1")

If len(result) = 0 then

msgbox("You have pressed the cancel key")

exit sub

end if

if not isnumeric(result) then

msgbox result & " is not a valid Session #."

exit sub

end if

connection_selected = cint(result) 'make sure we are dealing with integer value

if connection_selected = 99 then

call start_session

exit sub

end if

if connection_selected > 0 and connection_selected <= number_of_connections then

call display_attributes(autECLConnMgr.autECLConnList(connection_selected).handle)

else

msgbox "Invalid Session#. You asked to view Session # " & _

cstr(connection_selected) & " and it exceeded highest " & _

"valid session # of " & cstr(number_of_connections)

exit sub

end if

end if
end sub

'this sub routine shows some of the attributes that can be retrieved

sub display_attributes(mysession)

dim attributes

autECLSession.SetConnectionByHandle(mysession)

attributes = "*** WinMetrics Attributes:" & chr(13) & chr(13) & _

"Windows Title:" & autECLSession.autECLWinMetrics.WindowTitle & (chr(13)) & _

"Maximized:" & autECLSession.autECLWinMetrics.Maximized & _

chr(13) & chr(13) & "*** OIA Attributes:" & chr(13) & chr(13) & _

"UpperShift Key:" & autECLSession.autECLOIA.UpperShift & (chr(13)) & _

"CapsLock:" & autECLSession.autECLOIA.CapsLock & chr(13) & chr(13) & _

"*** Presentation Space Attributes:" & chr(13) & chr(13) & _

"Number of Rows: " & autECLSession.autECLPS.NumRows & chr(13) & _

"Number of Columns: " & autECLSession.autECLPS.NumCols & chr(13)

msgbox attributes
end sub

'start_session routine - starts a new session
sub start_session

dim found

dim profile

dim result

dim valid_choices

valid_choices = "CHANDLERDOTYMARINOMCCABEMIZERA"

'this inputbox is depicted in Figure 3 of the article

result = inputbox("Choose AS400 Session to Start: CHANDLER," & _

chr(13) & "DOTY, MARINO, MCCABE or MIZERA" & _

chr(13) & chr(13) & "If left blank, the default will be used!","Start AS/400 Session", _

"MARINO")

if len(result) = 0 then

msgbox "Cancel Pressed - No Session Started"

exit sub

end if

result = ucase(result)

found = instr(valid_choices,result)

if found > 0 then 'a valid AS400 Session Name found

profile = "Profile=" & result

autECLConnMgr.StartConnection(profile)

else

msgbox result & " is an Invalid Session Name!"

end if
end sub

Figure 2: Some sample VBScript will help you learn more about building your own VBScript macros.


Beef_Up_Client_Access_Macros_with_VBScript07-00.png 400x226

Figure 3: The input box lets you select a specific session or start a new session.


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  • 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

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    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 NodeRun.com 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!!

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  • 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.