In the beginning, Web application development was difficult. You needed to know how to create your own Web pages using HTML, and you needed to understand CGI to access data and applications.
There were enhancements along the way: tools to help design Web pages and other Web programming languages such as Net.Data.
The introduction of Java made programming Internet applications easier. Java applications were much more portable than applications written in any of the previous portable languages. Write Once, Run Anywhere became the selling point for Java applications. Java applications would run on any platform that supported a Java virtual machine (JVM) -- and every strategic hardware platform had JVM support. There was a price, however. There were books published about learning Java in several weeks, but object-oriented (OO) design and programming, and becoming proficient at abstraction and inheritance, took most programmers six to 12 months to master. Many organizations couldn't afford this investment in ebusiness application development. Some businesses hired new Java programmers for ebusiness application development, but many of those new programmers lacked the business understanding to create good ebusiness applications. Understanding Java and Web programming wasn't sufficient.
With the introduction of WebSphere Development Studio for iSeries, moving iSeries applications to the Web became a lot easier. The WebFacing Tool creates a Web interface to existing 5250 applications. The tool creates JavaServer Pages (JSP) files, Java beans and servlets based on the 5250 display file DDS. There is little or no change to the business logic of the original application, and the "WebFaced" application supports both a 5250 and Web interface. The JSP file, servlet and Java beans run on WebSphere Application Server, Standard Edition, a free feature of OS/400. Programmers will be able to move their iSeries applications to the Web easily and cost-effectively with minimal investment in skills development.
How difficult is the WebFacing Tool conversion process?
Here are the steps for conversion:
- Check your DDS source to determine whether all of the important DDS keywords are supported by the WebFacing Tool.
- Update your DDS source to use only the supported keywords or delay your conversion.
- Set up WebSphere Application Server.
* Rochester has set up a first install center pilot program for WebSphere Application Server. This support from Rochester makes this step relatively painless. Contact Joe Druga at 1-507-286-6400 or Pam Sclafani at 1-914-784-5463 for more information.
* Start the WebFacing Tool Integrated Development Environment.
* Create a new WebFacing project.
* Select a server.
- Select the DDS file source.
- Select the presentation style for the Web interface.
* Choose from several style sheets.
- Select the commands for calling your application.
- Convert your application.
- Deploy your Web application to WebSphere Application Server.
* Generate your publishing information.
* Generate the output.
* Deploy to the server.
- Call your Web application from the browser.
You're done! And if you had WebSphere Application Server running and you used only supported DDS keywords, this entire conversion process could have taken as little as two hours.
How do I begin?
The conversion process is easy, but some training is still required. You need to become familiar with the following products:
- WebSphere Application Server for iSeries: You need to know how to install, configure, administer and tune the performance of WebSphere Application Server
- WebFacing Tool: The education for this tool is combined with the education for WebSphere Studio for iSeries because many developers want to understand how they can enhance and customize the output of the WebFacing Tool
- CODE: CODE is the preferred development environment for creating iSeries applications. There are enhancements to CODE to make the WebFacing conversion process easier.
With two weeks of training, most developers have the background to start moving their applications to the Web.
Many organizations don't have sufficient resources to move their portfolio of applications to the Web. For these organizations there are conversion services available through IBM and the partner community. These services offerings include the following:
- Education and training
- Proof of concept conversion
- The conversion of a typical but small application to demonstrate the capabilities of the WebFacing Tool
- Turnkey application conversion
- Conversion of your entire portfolio of applications
- WebSphere Application Server set up
- DDS analysis and update
- Application conversion and three-stage publishing; unit test, quality assurance and production
- Web application configuration, administration and performance tuning
The future is bright
Ebusiness is the future of the IT industry. The server with the most ebusiness solutions will be the premier ebusiness and Java server. By definition, good ebusiness applications have two basic characteristics:
- They are good business applications
- They have a Web interface
The future looks bright for the iSeries server. The iSeries server has more good business applications than any other server, and the WebFacing Tool can take these solutions to the Web quickly, easily and cost-effectively.
About the authors: Jim Mason is president of Cape Cod Bay Systems, and he writes, consults, teaches, designs and develops AS/400 Web applications using Java, WebSphere, DB2, Lotus Domino and the WebSphere Development Tools for AS/400. Dave Slater is World Wide Market Manager of AS/400 Application Development at IBM Canada.
ADVICE ON WEBSPHERE AND WEB DEVELOPMENT
Our search400 experts, who include Jim Mason and Dave Slater, have been busy answering Web Development questions from members. Click over to read what they had to say. You might find some much-needed advice.
This was first published in May 2001