Screens to HTML with Inventu

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As the Web and Internet became popular in the mid-90's, a few early implementations of on-the-fly HTML terminal emulation were introduced. These proved to be somewhat clunky and fragile implementations missing many important features such as session integrity, keyboard support and proper formatting to name a few. Since then, the capabilities of browsers have advanced significantly, and Screensurfer, a second generation screen-to-HTML product, provides solutions to all the problems exhibited by the early products.
With Screensurfer available to provide tight, high performance HTML-based terminal emulation, many organizations have found it to be the ideal solution for host access in the Internet age.

The Advantages of HTML
Delivering host access for the Web with HTML is a natural for the following reasons:
  • For on-the-fly terminal emulation, an HTML page can provide instant default rejuvenation by providing sculpted input fields and browser-friendly behavior
  • The biggest user benefits in enhancing the user interface can be achieved quickly by the simple reformatting of cryptic, crowded screens into more readable and understandable formats
  • As a text mark-up language, HTML is easy to learn and is ideal for this simple task of reformatting screens for optimal readability and comprehension.
  • An HTML user interface requires no annoying download delays and installation problems introduced by Java or ActiveX applets: it just works, and works immediately
  • HTML is the language of the Web--all of the major sites deliver their content and user interfaces using HTML simply because it is the best approach to exploiting Internet delivery of information
  • HTML pages can easily be developed so they work on all computers with a wide variety of screen sizes, resolutions and color support. When a user has an older browser running on an older PC, the HTML page will still work (with fewer features and less fancy appearance--but it still works and doesn't result in a call to the help desk)

The Instant Solution
With a high-end 3270/5250-to-HTML solution like Screensurfer, with a few hours of customization you can deliver instant access to your screen-based applications anywhere a web browser is installed. Your employee's desktops, your customer's desktops, anywhere.
Screens delivered with Screensurfer's industry-leading 3270/5250-to-HTML terminal emulation are instantly upgraded in look-and-feel. Your logo, color scheme and website navigational links are integrated "on-screen". Input (unprotected) fields are clearly identified using native input fields for the computer being used, such as sculpted entry fields on a Windows/95 PC. Function keys may be presented as clickable buttons or links, or even connected directly to the PC keyboard using an ActiveX Control or Netscape Plugin.

Slashing Network Costs
Delivering terminal emulation sessions over the Web enables organizations to discontinue use of private or value-added networks (VANs), providing huge monthly savings. By delivering emulation sessions as HTML pages, no "installation headaches" occur.

Fixing the Biggest Problem Next
Most screen-based applications have one big problem caused by a number of factors. The big problem is crowded, difficult to use interfaces. The factors leading to these poor interfaces include:
  • Small amount of data: 24 rows, each 80 columns is peanuts compared to what can be presented in a contemporary web browser
  • The training assumption: most applications are created with the assumption that users will be trained in the use of the application; this is because in a contained organization with a stable workforce it is less expensive to train than to create very easy-to-use interfaces in a tiny 24 by 80 text window
  • Encryption Creep: As time marches on, the amount of data needed for a given business entity increases. As the new fields are added, the non-data text (the prompts and on-screen help) are the first to suffer. They grow smaller and more abbreviated until in some cases only a single letter remains!
The fix to this big problem is to simply reformat the screens as easy-to-read HTML pages. The true data fields remain as-is while their location and prompts are reformatted and expanded to more readable formats. The best thing about this reformat is that this is just what HTML was designed to do!

Employ Best-of-Breed Toolsets and Skills
HTML Web Page development is not a niche market. Host integration? Niche. Very niche. Another reason to implement a screen-to-web solution with an HTML-based solution.
Products like Screensurfer which provide a direct HTML template capability enable the use of any HTML authoring/editing product to optimize this task. This also enables the use of individuals with HTML experience to be directly involved in the creation of the new application look-and-feel. Since the user interface represents the majority of the development effort when rejuvenating host screen interfaces, this minimizes the amount of unique skills needed for success and ongoing maintenance. For developers that currently don't know HTML and Javascript user interface development, what a perfect opportunity to bridge from mainframe applications to the fastest growing language environment in the computing world?
A warning: some tools deliver HTML pages from screen applications through the use of abstract models which provide little or no control over the final HTML generated. These tools have little opportunity to exploit the vast array of HTML editors and authoring tools available in the market, and should be considered hopelessly niche.

Want to Learn more? Ask us or simply install and go!