IBM i 5250 Screen Sizes – Widescreen for the Win! 

 October 30, 2017

By  NickLitten

Back in the good old days (thats programmer-speak for decades ago, when doing anything on a computer was a lot more complicated than it is today)  5250 screen sizes of 24 rows and 80 characters wide seemed like plenty of room. Monitors were green text, on black background, with none of those fancy annoying graphics to get in the way. Talking computers only existed on Star Trek. TV Remote controls involved Dad telling the kids to get up and change the channel. Cars ran on Leaded Petrol. You could smoke in a pub. Men were men and women were pleased (thats one of my favourite old Grandad sayings). But yet again… I digress…

There really is no reason why we should be using 24×80, over the much nicer 27×132, as our default 5250 screen layout is there?

PROS: Lots more data on the screen. More space for data means less cramped confusing UI. Easier to read on modern large format displays. Wider layout means no more left screen jump to right screen keyboard functions. More room on bottom line to display multiple function keys means less F23=MORE for users. Widescreen can easily switch between 24×80 and 27×132 formats.

CONS: *none

So, I use 27×132 as a default size in IBM i ACS. I have to over-ride it each time and it’s just slightly irritating.

5250 screen sizes

So , IBM how about you set the default layout to 27×132 in the next release of IBM ACS?

Of course this would also solve the occasional CPF4169 I hit when I’m running in 24×80 mode by accident (like I just did a few minutes ago) and I invoked a program that was designed for a wide screen layout.

PS: I happened to start a signon session in RDi which also defaults to 24×80 from 1982


CPF4169 – The device file does not contain an entry for screen size

5250 screen sizes

Now, I know I could write some code to get around it but… really… it’s 3pm and I’m too busy planning what I’m going to eat this evening… Curry, Shephards Pie or Lasagna?

I just cant decide…


IBM i Software Developer, Digital Dad, AS400 Anarchist, RPG Modernizer, Shameless Trekkie, Belligerent Nerd, Englishman Abroad and Passionate Eater of Cheese and Biscuits. Nick Litten Dot Com is a mixture of blog posts that can be sometimes serious, frequently playful and probably down-right pointless all in the space of a day. Enjoy your stay, feel free to comment and remember: If at first you don't succeed then skydiving probably isn't a hobby you should look into.

Nick Litten

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