While not as glamorous as a PC, dumb terminals are easier to understand. If you're looking for a particular key action to execute, you simply read the labels on the keys and press the key combination that you want. If you want to go to a second session, for example, press the Shift+System Request-Attn key, type 1, and you're there. Although some actions may be represented by esoteric names and strange symbols, all the keys are clearly marked on a dumb terminal and you usually only need to look at them to figure out which key to press.
Determining key actions in PC5250 is more challenging. In IBM's Client Access emulator, key actions are mapped to PC keystroke combinations and many of the combinations don't make practical sense. To make matters worse, there isn't an easily available reference to tell you which key combination does what. Where you might have pressed Print on a dumb terminal to output a screen to your default printer output queue, in PC5250 you have to press the Ctrl-Pause keystroke combination to invoke the same host print functionality. It's a little less intuitive and more difficult to understand which key combination performs which action. But as 5250-system console terminals are increasingly replaced by PCs that use IBM's Windows-based Operations Console software with a PC5250 session -- it becomes more important to locate the same keys on an Ops Console screen that you formerly used on a dumb terminal.
Luckily, PC5250 can help in this task. If you're searching for a particular PC5250 key function and you don't know where it is on your keyboard, there's a Find Key option inside PC5250 that lets you (somewhat) easily find the keystroke combination a particular terminal action is mapped to. Here's how to search out those keystroke combos you're looking for.
1. Inside your PC5250 session, go into the Keyboard setup function by selecting Edit-Preferences-Keyboard from the PC5250 menu bar. This brings up the Keyboard Setup panel.
2. The Keyboard Setup panel shows you what keyboard file your PC5250 session is currently using. This file is either the IBM default keyboard, or a user-defined keyboard that was specifically configured for your organization's special needs. Regardless of which keyboard type you're using, press the Customize button on this panel to see the keyboard map for your session.
3. The Customize Keyboard screen appears, which performs several functions, including customizing a keyboard map and locating which keystroke combination a particular macro, script, function, or character is assigned to. To find where a particular action is located on your PC5250 keyboard, select Actions-Find from the Customize Keyboard screen to open the Find Key panel.
4. In the Find Key panel, you select whether you want to search your keyboard map for a macro or script; a function; or a particular character. For macro, scripts, and functions, there are drop down boxes you can click to select the exact action you want to search for. To find the key a specific character is mapped to, click on that character in the horizontal character selection bar. Once you highlight the action you want to search for, click the Find button.
5. If the action is present in your keyboard map, the program will return you to the Customized Keyboard screen where the key combination your action is mapped to will be displayed in the Change Current Actions for Selected Key area. The action will be shown as mapped to one of six different key combinations involving the base key shown in this area. The possible key combinations for your action are: Base (pressing the key without pressing any other keys); Shift (pressing the Shift+the designated key, ex. Shift-F1); Ctrl (pressing Ctrl+key); Alt (Alt+key); CtrlShift (Shift+Ctrl+key); or AltGr (AltGr+key; in some configurations, the Alt key directly to the right of the space bar is used as the AltGr key, but it's not a universal implementation). The actions assigned to each of these key combinations are displayed in this area.
6. When you're finished locating the key combination to use for a specific action in your keyboard mapping file, press File-Exit from the menu bar to exit the Customize Keyboard screen. If you're not changing any of the keystroke actions on your keyboard map, select No if the program asks you if you want to save your changes.
The Find Key panel is available in all versions of Client Access Express for Windows and in several versions of the older Client Access for Windows 95/NT PC5250 software. While it's a little kludgy and not exactly perfect, this panel can help you quickly locate a particular action on your keyboard map. You can also use the Customize Keyboard screen where the Find panel is located to change your keyboard mapping to add, move, or delete specific mapping to a keyboard file. It's a flexible function and one more tool you can use for better managing your PC5250 setups.
About the author: Joe Hertvik is an IT professional and freelance writer who has been working with OS/400 since the days of the System/38 in the mid-1980s. Joe can be reached at email@example.com.
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This was first published in April 2002