The CNX notebook.

Browse these blog posts from our Valence and IBM i experts to get techniques, advice and examples for building apps that transform your business world.

Introducing Valence Fusion5250 – Integrating Green Screen with Web

Since its introduction in 2008, Valence has helped countless IBM i developers create top-notch web and mobile apps using some of the slickest UI technology available.  As the customer base grew, CNX introduced a number of additional development tools to Valence, including AutoCode and App Builder, to make the process of creating and deploying apps as easy as possible.  But despite all this UI wizardry for creating NEW applications, many companies running on IBM i today still rely on core applications rooted in the AS400...
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CNX Announces Release of Valence 5.2+

CNX Announces Major Update to Valence 5.2 at POWERUp 2019  Introduces an HTML5-based 5250 emulator along with other expanded functionality May 20, 2019 ANAHEIM, CA. CNX announced at the COMMON POWERUp 2019 spring conference today the general availability of version 5.2+ (“5.2 Plus”) of the Valence Framework for IBM i. Marking the 16th major update since Valence 1.0 was first introduced in 2008, this latest Valence build brings expanded functionality to core developer components of the software, along with a new...
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Harness the power of PDF in your grid apps

The ability to download grid data into an Excel document has been a feature of Nitro App Builder for quite some time.  Indeed, when someone wants to massage or analyze numbers in their own world, Excel is an ideal tool to accomplish that. But what about cases where users just want to print the data, or take the output with them for presentation outside of the system?  To address these types of needs, PDF download was added as an option to NAB grids...
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Convert your RPG-based reports into web apps

If your company’s ERP system dates back to the AS/400 glory days, your users are likely accustomed to running programs that generate “old school” spool file output.  While working with printed reports was quite common in the past, today most users prefer to work in a more paperless fashion, opting for on-screen apps or downloaded spreadsheets wherever possible. In cases  where spool file output is created through RPG logic in conjunction with printer files, Valence 5.2 includes a tool to help you convert the...
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Use tool tips to reduce congestion on your grids

If you’re a Valence developer with a fair amount of 5250 subfile programming under your belt, you certainly don’t miss the days of creatively abbreviating columns and “folding” rows in an effort to squeeze everything your users need into a 24×80 text screen.  By contrast, creating a Valence grid app through Nitro App Builder is so simple and naturally accommodating for large numbers of columns that it can be tempting to include everything under the sun in your grids so users never...
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Showcase Your Key Business Metrics Through a Kiosk-Style App

With the advent of low-cost “Smart TV” units — flat screen monitors with integrated web browsing capability — it’s easier than ever (and cheaper) to adorn your company’s front lobby, cafeteria, shop floor or other high-traffic areas with automatically-updating displays that depict important business metrics in real time.  Using these TVs, or even “dumb” monitors attached to low-end PCs, key stats like sales numbers, inventory levels, picking performance, etc. can be shown to employees and guests without the old-school hassle...
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Speed Up Your Valence Instances with Apache Compression

A big tip-of-the-hat to Seiden Group’s Alan Seiden for this month’s highly useful Valence tip-of-the-month… For all the great UI wizardry we’ve come to know and love in modern JavaScript frameworks such as Ext JS, that love sometimes comes at a bit of a waiting-for-the-app-to-load price, one that’s particularly noticeable when working with a low-bandwidth connection.  The dastardly “spinning wheel delay” has occasionally posed a bit of an annoyance for our own dev team while doing live Valence demonstrations at conference sites sporting less-than-stellar internet speeds. To clarify, modern web architectures rely on pre-loading the...
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IBM i Developers: It’s a Great Time to Embrace Low-Code App Builders

Recently I’ve had some fascinating conversations with people regarding Nitro App Builder, the low-code app builder included with Valence.  In case you’ve never heard of it before, Nitro App Builder is a tool that’s quickly taking over as the development method of choice for many apps that would have been coded manually in Valence just a year or two ago.  It creates really useful apps by configuring them interactively, with little or no programming required. I’ve found that some people love...
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The Wild Evolution of AS/400 to IBM i

With IBM i turning 30 I thought it would be fun to recap the evolution of this amazing operating system over the years from my perspective. The first system I ever worked on was a model B50 way back in 1991, and of course it was called AS/400 at the time. I thought the machine was pure magic with its tan towers and reel-to-reel tape drive (some of you may have to look that up). By contrast, today my company...
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CNX Turns 22 Today!

Twenty-two years ago today we officially registered CNX as an Illinois corporation (wow, that’s a shocking thing for us to write), so we thought it might be fun to take a short trip down memory lane on this blog post.  So much has transpired in those years that we could write a book, so we will necessarily need to keep it brief here — perhaps one of us will write that book later!   Anyway here it goes: In the early 1990’s...
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Bumping up the number of CGI jobs servicing your Valence apps

Your IBM i HTTP Server powered by Apache is a powerful web-serving system akin to a bank staffed with multiple fast-working tellers. The AJAX requests coming in from your front-end apps are like customers entering the bank to perform transactions. Each “customer” queues up in an orderly line on a first-in/first-out basis, and is serviced by the next available “teller” as soon as they’re finished dealing with the prior customer. The tellers in this analogy are the CGI jobs you can see...
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Controlling the colors in your charts and graphs

Nitro Query apps containing charts or graphs can make conveying your company’s business trends or performance metrics much more effective than showing raw numbers alone.  It’s particularly common (and easy) to create a dashboard app that includes a grid of monthly sales details supplemented by a chart showing month-to-month performance.  This adds some great context to the lists of numbers. By default the colors of the pie slices or bars in chart widgets are set randomly – hence they look...
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Create an intuitive grid app with row selection, processing multiple transactions at once

Just about every business has a situation where users need to perform a single process against multiple items in one pass.  For example, you might have a list of open invoices that you’d like to flag as ready for payment, or a group of inventory items that you would like to transfer out of a special holding area. Rather than making your users do individual transactions for each invoice that needs to be paid, or each product that needs to be moved, you...
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Correcting issue with partially visible window on migrated AutoCode apps

Older Valence file maintenance apps created through Nitro AutoCode can sometimes exhibit a display problem upon migration to Valence 5.1.  This can also be true for AutoCode-based file maintenance apps created in 5.1 builds prior to 5.1.20171202.0.  The most common symptom is that a portion of the edit/add window displays outside of the portal boundary, as shown here. Figure 1 – Example of partially visible edit/add window in migrated AutoCode app There are two methods to fix this problem.  You...
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Make your Yes/No grid columns POP with checkmarks instead of text

Wrapping up 2017 with a simple but powerful tip for Nitro Query grid apps… Very often lists of business data include columns that can be classified as boolean, with text representing values of yes/no, true/false, 1/0, etc.  When you’re creating a Nitro Query grid app that includes such columns, you can make “truthy” values stand out much more clearly by replacing the column text with a visual checkmark.  You can apply the same concept to edit grids as well, so instead...
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Use Nitro iAdmin to Watch for Messages and Monitor Subsystems

Power Servers running IBM i are remarkably stable systems, to such a degree that it’s easy to overlook those rare occasions when something on the system has gone awry and requires operator attention. When an exception does occur, many IBM i sites have third party monitoring tools or home-grown software in place to notify system administrators that an issue has occurred that may require some kind of action.  For instance, if a job goes into MSGW status or an expected process is not running in a particular subsystem, a message...
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Leverage SQL to Create IBM i Web Apps – FAST!

Whether you’re a seasoned SQL pro or just learning the ropes of SQL syntax on IBM i, the SQL parser built into Nitro Query App Builder is an invaluable tool you can leverage to quickly generate a web-based report for your users, or even a file maintenance application containing multiple joined files. SQL-based data sources were introduced in Valence 5.1 back in May 2017, and the feature was formally removed from Beta status this month. Assuming you have a basic familiarity with your IBM i database, new...
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Use Valence to pull data from other database servers

We’re long past the days where a single on-site server could handle all the IT needs of a typical business.   Today it’s likely your IBM i system is supplemented by a myriad of separate servers — perhaps even additional IBM i boxes or partitions — each housing its own database.  These isolated machines contain valuable information pertinent to the departments they serve, whether it be for shipping, quality assurance, customer service, or what-have-you. So if you haven’t already, it’s likely at some point in...
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Give your users the ultimate data drill-down app with a Pivot Grid

One of the most common requirements in a modern business application is the need to present users with easily digested summaries of data in list form.  The ability for inquiring minds to quickly and easily drill down into that summarized data to glean specific details where needed is an added bonus.  As such, the Ext JS Pivot Grid — complete with auto-summing cells and expandable rows — is a fantastic tool for combining summary and detail information together in a highly intuitive user...
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Convert a green screen query into a web or mobile app in minutes

The tried and true IBM i Query Utility (as accessed via STRQRY or WRKQRY) is mainstay in many IBM i shops.  But it goes without saying that the user interface associated with the configuration and the output of an IBM i Query leaves a bit to be desired. This is particularly true when users must navigate through the query’s definition to change selection or sort criteria. So wouldn’t it be convenient if you could easily take any IBM i Query definition from the...
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