From 5250 to the Web

Your parents probably told you the best way to deal with challenges was to face them square on. The IBM WebFacing Tool was seemingly created with this pearl of parental wisdom in mind.

The WebFacing tool is designed to help enterprises face and meet the challenges of Web-enabling 5250 applications. An iSeries productivity enhancement available as of OS/400* V4R5, the WebFacing Tool runs production green-screen display files through a conversion process and creates Internet-ready application interfaces.

The WebFacing tool creates a Web interface to existing 5250 applications by generating JavaServer Pages* (JSPs), Java beans and servlets based on the display file data description specification (DDS). Little or no change is required to the business logic of the original application and the "Web-faced" application supports both the 5250 and Web interfaces.

Once a Web interface is published to the application server-such as IBM's WebSphere* or the recently announced Apache Software Foundation (ASF) Jakarta Tomcat on iSeries, an open-source solution-the converted application is available to authorized Internet users worldwide. By converting an application and exporting the Web interface to one or more application servers on the iSeries, you can update work-in-process inventory status directly from remote locations via the Internet. So you can use the same RPG application you're currently using to complete local updates from faxed or hard-copy information. This gives remote offices and salespeople full access (if authorized) to all appropriate company information in real time, via the Internet, in a GUI format.

The WebFacing tool is a component of WebSphere Development Studio (WDS) for iSeries (5722-WDS). This product consolidates all of the traditional and e-business development tools into one package, which is a no-charge upgrade from the predecessor products with Software Subscription. WDS includes these host components: Integrated Language Environment* (ILE) RPG, ILE COBOL, ILE C, ILE C++ and Application Development Tool Set.

In addition to the host components, WDS includes these workstation components (with unlimited workstation licenses per server): WebFacing Tool, WebSphere Studio for iSeries, VisualAge* for Java* for iSeries (with Enterprise Toolkit for iSeries), Cooperative Development Environment (CODE) and VisualAge RPG.

















Programmers who choose to learn and use the WebFacing Tool to convert green screens to Internet-ready screens can expect an easier entrance into the e-business world of the future.

David Slater is the former product line manager for System i application development products.

Garry L. Reinhard is the president of Ridley Park, Pa.-based Appcon, Inc. Garry can be reached at

Paul H. harkins is the president of Harkins Audit Software Ltd. and Harkins & Associates Inc. of West Chester, Pa.. Paul can be reached at

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