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Options for calling iSeries commands from WebFaced applications

With WebFaced an application, you can't call iSeries commands. However, there are other methods you can consider.

If you've WebFaced an application, you might be confused to see in your menus calls to iSeries commands such as WRKSPLF and yet you aren't able to use them. According to expert Jim Mason, WebFacing doesn't handle user interface screens in the current release. That means commands such as WRKSPLF won't work in a WebFacing application.

The good news is that you have several options to handle this situation. Here's what Jim Mason said about the various possibilities:

Jim Mason

  1. Listen to the person that told you WebFacing wouldn't work and spend money (maybe lots) to get a different IBM or third-party solution (iSeries Access for Web, HATS, etc.)
    Mason: This is a bad idea. Other IBM Web-enabling solutions MAY be a valid answer for some situations where WebFacing doesn't work well, BUT they will always cost more: HATS, HATS-LE, iSeries Access for the Web. Host on Demand is sold at $300 per user, so for limited developer access it's very affordable and requires only the HTTP server (which is free). Also Secure Telnet works well for developer and administrator access, and it's free.
  2. Upgrade to the Advanced edition of WebSphere Development Studio client (WDSC), which has a spool file viewer built in.
    Mason: This option is OK, but it costs real money to upgrade. You'll need more than the spool file viewer to justify the upgrade. If you want to easily extend WebFacing, the Struts version of WebFacing MAY be just what you need to justify the cost. EJB development isn't relevant to most iSeries customers and won't be. The Web application profiling utility is good for analyzing Web application performance. If you're using WebSphere Application Server (not Express or Tomcat), you already have the Resource Analyzer, which can profile performance.
  3. Buy or find a spool file to PDF utility to generate PDF files from spool files.
    Mason: This is an OK choice. There are a number of choices in the market. Most are based on the free Apache FOP framework to generate a PDF file.
  4. Create your RPG application to select, view spool files and WebFace that.
    Mason: A number of customers have already done this. I think this is a good choice. This DOES work well.
  5. Create simple CL "wrapper" commands with input parms for your key system commands. Then use the Web interaction wizard in WDSC to Web-enable the CL commands.
    Mason: You CAN'T get results from commands such as WRKSPLF, but for other commands it's great. This option is great where it fits.


About the author: Jim Mason, president of ebt-now, is an iSeries WebSphere engineer. ebt-now provides iSeries WebSphere, WebFacing project management, engineering, development and training services. You can reach Jim at or call 508-888-0344.


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