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Give PC5250 Window titles more meaning

Change PC5250 titles to include meaningful information so you know which OS/400 you're switching to.

In shops that have several iSeries or AS/400 machines, many administrators find themselves and their users plagued by obscure PC5250 Window title naming. (A Window title is the descriptive phrase that shows up in the topmost line of any Windows program.) By default Client Access Express PC5250 places three things in the Windows title of every PC5250 session: the word 'Session' followed by an IBM-generated session-ID (usually A, B, C, etc); a separator character of a '-' (dash); and the session dimensions (screen size) of the active PC5250 window. This default format leads to such inspiring PC5250 Window titles as:

  • Session A - [24 x 80]
  • Session B - [24 x 80]
  • Session C - [24 x 80]

Generally, each PC5250 Window title looks the same, and it doesn't give you much information about the session it represents or the OS/400 box the user is connected to. That's a shame because those titles aren't used in just your PC5250 emulation Window. Window titles also appear in two other important places on your Windows 9x, ME, NT, or 2000 desktop: in the minimized icon indicator for the PC5250 session that is shown in the Windows toolbar at the bottom of your screen and as a description for the program icons that appear when you use the ALT-TAB key combination to switch between open Windows programs. And -- because many shops may have multiple active PC5250 sessions that are connected to different iSeries or AS/400 machines -- it would be valuable if you could change PC5250 titles to include something more meaningful so that you or your users know which OS/400 they are switching to when they maximize a particular session.

Fortunately, IBM understands that problem and has provided a facility for changing the Windows title for your PC5250 session. It's easy to use, and it allows you to manually insert a new title or insert some automatic values into your PC5250 Windows title fields. Here's how to use it.

In your Express client PC5250, go into the Windows Setup screen by selecting Edit-Preferences-Appearances-Windows Setup from the menu bar. On the Windows Setup dialogue that appears, you'll see an area called Windows Title that has approximately eight check boxes in it. Those check boxes control what values are displayed in your session's Windows title, and you can check (select) as many of those options as you want. As you check or uncheck a particular option, notice that your Windows title immediately changes, even before you leave the Windows Setup dialogue. That allows you to see what your new Windows title will look like before you commit to it by clicking the OK button on the dialogue. Using this area, you can add the following eight values into the Window title for a particular PC5250 session:

  • Long Session-ID: One of the defaults listed above, checking Long Session-ID places the word 'Session' in the title, immediately followed by IBM's automatically generated session-ID. For the first PC5250 session on a box, it adds 'Session A' to the title, 'Session B' for the second session, and so on.
  • Short Session ID: This checkbox functions like the Long Session-ID except that checking this value adds only IBM's Session-ID to the title without including the word 'Session' (i.e., A, B, C).
  • Session Name: This check box is accompanied by an entry that allows you to fill in your own literal for use in the Window title. The catch here is that the literal is limited to 16 characters or fewer.
  • Session Profile: Checking this option adds the name of your session profile (the .WS file) to the session's Window title.
  • Session Dimensions: Another default, this check box adds the PC5250 screen size dimensions (ex, [24 x 80]) to the title.
  • Session API Status: This box appends what IBM refers to as a visual indication of who is using this session -- a user or a DDE session -- to the Window title. Checking it merely adds the word 'USER' or 'DDE' to the title.
  • Separator: The separator check box comes with an input box that defines what separator character should be used between each literal that is added to the title when you select the other check boxes. This option is a default that uses a '-' (dash) as a separator.

Once you've made your selection and you're happy with the new title you've created, click the OK button on the Windows Setup dialogue and the session will display your new Window title. To save the title change as part of your .WS file, click on File-Save from the PC5250 menu bar and it will save your Window title changes to your .WS session configuration file.

Changing a Window title is one of those little features that may help your users locate and use their PC5250 emulation sessions more effectively. If your shop has multiple iSeries or AS/400 machines, I recommend you look into it to help users find the right connection quickly and easily.

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


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