With the end of the year approaching, most companies find they have a rare opportunity to do some significant system maintenance as users go offline for the holidays. In addition to, say, upgrading to IBM i OS 7.4, this may also be a good opportunity to rearrange your Valence setup so it's following a "best practice" configuration. In a proper setup you can download and test new Valence builds without affecting any of your production or test instances.
When creating an app to convey a typical collection of IBM i business data to users, the most common approach using Valence's Nitro App Builder tool is to build an SQL statement to pull in the pertinent information, pop the resulting rows into a multi-column grid, give the user a few filter options and call it a day.
For apps containing quantifiable numeric values — such as sales numbers or unit volumes — the core grid can be supplemented with a chart or graph, thereby adding a visual emphasis to trending values.
Just about every modern office job involves users interacting with a computer for the bulk of their work day. So excessive waiting for the computer to respond to actions can lead to both user frustration and decreased productivity. In short, users like speed!
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.
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
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.
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.
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 of printing and replacing paper displays.
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.
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).
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.