Computer vs. Human Interfaces

When we first start considering how modernize our interface - be it the human UI interface or the computer to computer interface we have to ask some sensible questions:

  • Is your IBM i application going to present IBM i Database information, via webservices, to a completely new web based front end?
  • Is your IBM i application going to continue to function with an overlayed, screen scraped, web front end?
  • Is your IBM i application going to be enhanced to write directly to a web-based front end hosted from the IBM i Integrated Web Server?

Depending on the answers we can start to build a project plan.

Do not skip this step - interface modernization is a complex task and if it's not clearly defined you will quickly find yourself bogged down in the details and, worse, looping back to earlier steps re-doing and changing configuration.

What tools do we need?

Web application development tools help us to build web applications that users can access on the Internet in their web browsers.

Here are some of the IBM® products used to build enterprise-ready web applications:

IBM i Access for Web

IBM i Access for Web enables end users to leverage business information, applications, and resources across an enterprise by extending the IBM i resources to the client desktop through a web browser.

IBM Rational Application Developer for WebSphere® Software

IBM Rational Application Developer for WebSphere Software helps Java™ developers rapidly design, develop, assemble, test, profile and deploy high quality Java/Java EE, Portal, Web/Web 2.0, OSGi, web services and SOA applications.

IBM Host Access Transformation Services

IBM Host Access Transformation Services quickly transforms your 3270 and 5250 green screen applications to intuitive web, portlet, rich client or mobile device user interfaces, and extends 3270, 5250, and VT green screens as standard web services.

Software Development Environment

Modern IDE's (code editors like RDI) are essential for this process of design and code. IBM Rational Developer for i is an integrated development environment (IDE) built on the Eclipse platform. Designed for creating and maintaining applications on the IBM i platform, it resides on the developer’s desktop, supporting development in both host-connected and disconnected modes.

The old green screen code editor, S.E.U. (Stone Age Editor) does not understand *FREE format, nor any of the modern RPG ILE syntax and %BIF's.

Don't waste time with it, retrain and enjoy the advantages of a modern coding environment.

Web Server Software

Good News - The IBM i Operating system comes with everything you need built in.

IBM i includes an Integrated Web Server based on the business standard Apache Webserver.

The IWS allows us to easily create a webserver, which can allow people on the internet to talk to our webservices. The webservice is a component on the web server which calls a program, or reads some SQL data and replies to the person the internet.

You do not need a WEBSITE running to serve up WEBSERVICES these are two different things.

Many businesses already use PHP based  packages for little to no cost.

Consider this - you do not need to design a website from scratch. Instead, you can install opensource website software like WordPress, Drupal or Magento and have a professional looking website up and running in minutes - all from your IBM i System.

If you merely want to serve up an interface for WEB SERVICES then simply defining them in your IWS will give you interface addresses immediately.

Save Cost with OpenSource

The advantages of open source are well known, software with community-driven flexibility, interoperability, and logic transparency that other business applications can’t compete with.

There are lots of open source packages written in PHP, with all the code available for reuse or customization, and all of them run on IBM i without modifications.

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