cat out of the bag!How time flies!  We're well into September now, which means we're just over a month away from the next major release of Valence, version 4.2. While there are a number of goodies being incorporated into this newest release, the biggest items for Valence 4.2 are:

  • PHP support
  • JSON-based web service functionality
  • A new solution for running 5250 programs in the Valence Portal

Here's a quick breakdown of the details behind these features...

PHP Back End Support

Of all the feature requests we receive at CNX for the Valence Framework, support for additional back-end language options (beyond RPG) ranks among the top.  So we're happy to announce that effective with this 4.2 release Valence will begin supporting alternative server-side languages to work with the framework, with PHP being the first in what we expect to be a number of different language technologies.

The integration of PHP with Valence will make it possible for newbies to learn by some very practical examples, as Valence 4.2 will include several PHP-based demonstration apps.  So, much as developers have used the Valence example apps to learn how to create RPG-based programs serving data to web pages, the new PHP-based example apps serve as practical examples of achieving the same end with PHP.  Moreover, PHP programs running within the Valence Portal leverage special Valence procedures that make database connectivity much more intuitive for developers coming from the RPG world, with support for concepts such as library lists automatically integrated with the Valence PHP-based APIs. 

Support for JSON-Based Web Services

Most Valence customers have amassed quite a few programs that use the Valence RPG Toolkit to take their IBM i data and send it to a browser or mobile device in JavaScript Object Notation, or JSON.  With more and more web services speaking in JSON these days, there is substantial opportunity for IBM i developers running Valence to leverage their already developed server side programs to interact with other systems.  So we've introduced Web Service support in this latest Valence release to accommodate this need. In Valence 4.2, developers can use the Portal Admin app to create custom URLs for outside systems to call your Valence programs for information, with Valence ensuring that only the programs you have explicitly authorized can be called.  Thus, existing Valence back-end RPG programs can now serve a dual purpose, serving both your internal users as well as external web services, with minimal coding changes.  This makes it easy for an outside system to interact with your IBM i to, say, obtain status on a customer order or stock status on a particular inventory item.

An "eXciting" New Solution to handle 5250 Programs

While the Valence Framework provides developers with fantastic tools and functionality for creating new IBM i-based web and mobile apps from scratch, to date we've never had a solution for legacy shops faced with converting hundreds or thousands of 5250 programs to work in the browser.  Of course, using IBM i Access for Web within the Valence Portal has been an option since Valence 4.0 was released, but browser-based emulators are generally not as appealing as native emulators, and of course users still must contend with 5250-specific nuances.  In discussions with Valence customers -- both current and prospective -- it has become clear that a better tool was needed to facilitate companies supporting a sizable portfolio of green screen programs who need an elegant way to simultaneously support new Valence apps alongside their legacy 5250 programs, at least until those programs can be redesigned to be true web applications. eXcite_logoAccordingly, CNX has teamed up with Ravensburg, Germany-based PKS Software GmbH to offer an exciting new option for legacy IBM i shops to retrofit their green screen programs to work within the Valence Portal.  The eXcite suite works by inspecting existing display file DDS and RPG source for each 5250 program, and then creating new compiled objects that are designed to work in a batch environment with the browser.  No manual code changes are required, and you can continue to make changes to the green screen programs as needed. This eXcite integration with Valence finally provides developers a convenient stepping-stone solution for quickly retrofitting their vast collections of legacy 5250 programs to work in the browser through the Valence Portal. The resulting apps can be easily adjusted to look and behave more like conventional web apps and less like the original green screens. The CNX and PKS development teams have been working together to integrate Valence and eXcite together, sharing the same security model to provide a seamless solution for IBM i users. The eXcite package, sold separately by PKS, will be available for free 90 trial to all Valence installations.


We hope you find these new additions to the Valence Framework useful.  Other planned features for Valence 4.2 include:

  • The latest stable builds of Ext JS 5 and Sencha Touch 2, along with support for Ext JS 6
  • An upgrade to the vvOut spreadsheet options, allowing your Valence programs to output Excel spreadsheets conforming to the latest .XLSX standards.
  • Minor improvements to the Nitro Enterprise apps

Valence 4.2 is tentatively scheduled to be available for download on Oct. 20, 2015.  

Get a Valence 4.2 preview in person!

In October we will be exhibiting and presenting at two IBM i-centric conferences... First up is the COMMON Fall Conference and Expo in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Oct 5-7).   In addition to demonstrations of the forthcoming Valence 4.2 release at our booth in the Expo room (booth #36), CNX will be presenting two sessions: (1) An introduction to JavaScript from an RPG perspective (3:30pm, Monday), and (2) an overview of Valence Framework, including the newest features in Valence 4.2 (3:30pm, Tuesday). Next up, just outside CNX's Chicagoland HQ, will be the RPG/DB2 Fall Summit in Lombard, IL (Oct 20-22), where we are planning to officially announce the general availability of Valence 4.2.  Stop by the CNX booth in the expo to meet some of the Valence development team, and be sure to join us in the Valence 4.2 Overview session (8:20am, Wednesday). Register by Oct 20 with promo code CNX for a $200 discount!