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Access Client Solutions – a Better 5250 Emulator

June 22, 2015

Hopefully you are aware of the IBM i Access Client Solutions offering. This has been available for more than two years. IBM is continuing to update and enhance this product with the 1.1.4 version released in February of this year. Check the Web page linked above to find out about updates (yes, clients have asked IBM to provide a better way to be notified about updates…).

The latest update includes many enhancements, particularly for the 5250 emulator. Why enhance the emulator? Because we know when doing IBM i system administration, you need to use a 5250 interface for many features. Navigator for i is preferred when using the graphical interface, but there are still many tasks that require a 5250 session.

What are the latest enhancements to the 5250 emulator? I’ll review three of my favorites.

  • Mouse wheel support
You can use your mouse wheel to page up and down and you can also configure to use it for other actions when used in conjunction with the shift or control keys. You configure the mouse wheel with Edit --> Preferences --> Mouse Wheel…

The following screen captures show the navigation and the properties page.

               


  • Tabbed 5250 sessions.
This is one of my favorites. When using a 5250 session, I often end up needing multiple sessions. I do not like window clutter; I’m a huge fan of tabs – in my browser, in my email client, in my chat application – and now in my emulator.

Tabs are toggled off by default, so you need to edit your preferences to enable tabbed sessions.

You configure tab support with Edit --> Preferences --> Tab Setup…
The following screen captures show the navigation and the properties page.




  You can configure the tab placement with the expected locations. I prefer my tabs to be on the left side. I often end up with many tabs stacked along the side of a window. It makes it easier for me to see all of them.




You can drag the tabs to reorder them and you can also detach a tab to move a session to its own window.

If you are a Mac OS user like me, you can also take advantage of the keyboard shortcuts to move from tab-to-tab (control-tab or control-shift-tab to go in the opposite direction).

On my Mac, it can be difficult to determine which tab is active. I contacted the ACS development team about this annoyance and they are investigating how to correct this.

·         Watermarks
You can now configure watermarks for your sessions. This is a really nice feature that quickly and clearly indicates what system you are connected to.


Watermarks are set up in the configuration properties for your system. You get to this from Communication --> Configure…


           

This is the same configuration interface used when starting a new session from the 5250 session manager.

The watermark properties are found on the Screen page:

 



Select the “Yes” radio button to activate the “Configure” button. This allows you to customize your watermark.

There are replacement variables that you can use in the text field:

·         &COMPN
Computer name

·         &HOST
Host name defined within the emulator session

·         &ID
Current session ID

·         &NAME
Current session name

·         &USERN
User name that started the JVM (NOT your IBM i user profile)

There are quite a few configuration options for your watermark and a preview area to allow you to see what the watermark looks like as you change the configuration parameters.


If you weren’t aware of these latest features, give them at try. If you have not yet started to use Access Client Solutions, I hope the new emulator features will give you the excuse you needed to check it out.

Posted June 22, 2015| Permalink

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