Web Client/X

The Web Client/X, Web Browser User Interface Screens Using 100% COBOL

A Brief Summary of Web Client/X

COBOL applications which display web browser based user interface screens are usually difficult to design and build for two reasons.

First, the server-based application code which is responsible for processing user input only runs when the user clicks on a submit button and, as soon as a new web page is displayed, the code terminates. This means that it is very difficult to write a normal program which stays in memory while it processes data from several screens in a row.

Second, data must be merged into complex code in order to display the information in a web browser and then the data input by the user must be extracted from the environment in order to process it.

Web Client/X solves both these problems. Web Client/X automatically displays COBOL sp2 user interface panels directly from a COBOL sp2 program in a web browser without having to know anything except the traditional COBOL CALL USING statements to control your panels. Web Client/X also allows regular (resident) COBOL programs to be used in conjunction with a web browser, hiding the intricacies of web coding from your COBOL code.

More importantly, Web Client/X allows existing COBOL sp2 applications to be migrated into an web browser user interface environment without completely restructuring the application. If you have an existing COBOL sp2-based application, the transition to a web browser user interface is virtually automatic with Web Client/X.

More on Web Client/X. . . . . . The User Interface is the Client

With advances in web browser technology it is now possible, and even advantageous to use the browser as the client user interface.

    • All users are familiar with the world wide web and can operate a web browser;
    • The platform doesn’t matter;
    • The user interface can appear on a desktop, tablet, phone or any device with a web browser.

With desktop applications, support desks end up spending an inordinate amount of time supporting the platform rather than the application.

    • Deployment over the web in a browser eliminates the platform support and allows your staff to concentrate on application support.
    • Deployment over the web on mobile devices also opens the door for additional services based on location information.

The Web Client/X Approach

Traditional windows desktop applications cannot be simply run in a browser. Browser based applications can use any of the following technologies:

    • ASP
    • PHP
    • CGI with various back end settings
    • Isapi DLL (part of an ASP solution)
    • Java
    • Flash

Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages. Both Java and Adobe Flash require additional browser plug-ins and do not run on most mobile devices (or run inconsistently).

ASP, Perl, PHP, ISAPI, etc. all require a change in knowledge for development and do not directly support COBOL programming. Programming is accomplished using other languages and the solution is largely platform and web server dependent.

Most browser based applications are “Stateless.” The server program has to keep some sort of session data in order to emulate or perform an interactive process.

Many are not complex applications but simply single input and response systems. With the introduction of the re-engineered Web Client/X product, Flexus has introduced a new and completely revamped web browser product.

Traditional web applications are slow because the entire page must be repainted when a change occurs or new data is presented. Advances in web technology changed that with the introduction of AJAX. AJAX allows the Javascript to communicate with the web server without reloading the whole page.

Utilizing JSON, Javascript and AJAX, Web Client/X presents a crisp, accurate and responsive user interface.

Most importantly – the development of a Web Client/X program is NO DIFFERENT for the COBOL programmer than normal desktop application development. Applications can be largely tested on the desktop then deployed to the “web.”

Web Client/X works nearly identically to traditional desktop COBOL sp2 based applications. Instead of displaying a direct user interface, a special COBOL sp2 server-based module, dynamically presents the interface on the web browser.

When a user opens the web page hosting the Web Client/X application, an instance of your application is launched on the server.

Persistence is maintained because your application stays active until the user terminates the session or a timeout occurs indicating the user has gone away.

The server side program operates as any other program. No special client side requirements are needed other than a modern browser with Javascript enabled Security Considerations.

Added Layer of Security Available with Web Client/X that is Unique to the Product

With Web Client/X, the web server that services the client can be SEPARATE from the server where the applications actually run. This is termed “Remote Web Server.”

In remote web server mode, a Flexus CGI module communicates the interface needs to a back end application server. None of your data files or programs need to exist on the web server. The application server and the web server can be running different operating systems.

Deployment Considerations

Flexus customers who have tested Web Client/X have deployed Web Client/X applications in “the cloud.” Several dedicated cloud server infrastructures are available that are reliable, secure and inexpensive.

Flexus can help with setup and deployment on Amazon Web Services for your application

If you would like to obtain a trial version of Web Client/X, please contact Flexus through the contact web page on this web site.

Please Allow Us to Automatically Convert One of Your Programs as a “Proof of Concept!”

If you can send us a representative source program which you would like to see deployed as a web-based application, please contact us right away. We’ll run your COBOL source program through our automated source code conversion tool and deploy it on an Amazon EC2 Server so that you can see your program running with a web browser interface. This “proof of concept” will not cost you one penny! We are even happy to send you the converted source for your inspection.

If we can help you with any questions you may have on Web Client/X, please contact us. It would be our pleasure to assist you. Thank you for your interest in Web Client/X.