Wall Data is one of the first companies to offer fully functional ActiveX controls to the Windows NT market. Specifically, ActiveX controls are part of the latest release of Rumba workstation-emulation and data-access products: Rumba 95/NT for the AS/400, Rumba 95/NT for the Mainframe, Rumba Access/400 95/NT, Rumba 95/NT for UNIX, and Rumba Office 95/NT. The core modules of these products use Wall Data's ActiveX controls to deliver display and printer emulation, print queue control, and several data access and presentation functions. You can use these ActiveX controls in ActiveX-enabled browsers (such as version 3 of Microsoft's Internet Explorer), in development languages such as Visual Basic and Visual C++, and in other development environments that support ActiveX controls.
The Wall Data design lets you incorporate most product functions, such as display emulation, printer management, and data access, into your programs, Web page, or integrated desktop environment. For example, you can develop a Web page that incorporates ActiveX controls for workstation emulation to let Web browser users sign on to one or more of your corporate systems (AS/400, mainframe, VAX, or UNIX) and access host-based applications. Screen 1 shows the Internet Explorer view of a Web page containing an AS/400 workstation session and session-related information generated by Wall Data's ActiveX controls. Listing 1 shows the underlying Web page description that references those controls.
You can also use Wall Data's ActiveX controls as a friendlier, faster alternative to the Emulator High-Level Language API (EHLLAPI) in IBM AS/400 and mainframe environments. EHLLAPI facilitates "screen scraping"--using EHLLAPI, one program sends and receives screen-based information through a second workstation emulation program. Wall Data's ActiveX controls provide the same functionality; however, they operate more efficiently and are easier to incorporate into high-level language programs.
A New Data Organization
The latest series of Rumba products also introduces a new data organization metaphor to the desktop. All 32-bit Rumba products support a notebook organization that lets you group host- and desktop-based applications as one unit. For example, you can create an accounts payable notebook. In it, you can include a page containing a workstation session that automatically opens on a host-based accounting program, a page containing a work-in-progress spreadsheet, and another page containing a form letter. The notebook is a portable object that you can move from one system to another.
ActiveX and Beyond
Although workstation emulation is a key feature in the Wall Data product line and ActiveX control set, it is not the only feature. Wall Data provides host-oriented ActiveX controls, including:
AS/400 workstation (5250) emulation
AS/400 printer emulation
AS/400 print queue control
AS/400 data queue access
AS/400 submit remote command
Mainframe workstation (3270) emulation
Mainframe printer emulation
Mainframe file transfer (IND$FILE)
Advanced Program-to-Program Communications (APPC)
UNIX terminal (VT) emulation
The Wall Data ActiveX control set also has controls for PC (workstation) print queues, coloring, menu functions, status bar functions, toolbar functions, tracing, and other general controls. Note that only Rumba Office 95/NT contains the full set of ActiveX controls. The host-specific Rumba products (e.g., Rumba 95/NT for the AS/400, Rumba 95/NT for the Mainframe, and Rumba 95/NT for UNIX) include only those ActiveX controls that are relevant to the host type.
Although ActiveX controls provide much of the core technology that the functions in the Rumba products use, some functions do not yet have ActiveX controls. For example, AS/400 Rumba supports file transfer capabilities that have no ActiveX control counterparts. So for now, you can't judge what ActiveX controls are available by looking at the end-user applications. On the flip side, you can't judge the breadth of end-user capabilities based solely on the ActiveX controls.
By incorporating ActiveX controls in the Rumba series, Wall Data has taken one more step in its broad strategy to facilitate access to corporate information residing on minicomputers, midrange systems, or mainframes, from the desktop environment or over the Internet. In a related development, Wall Data is releasing new Web server-based capabilities for its ActiveX controls, including on-the-fly conversion from ActiveX to Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). With this technology in place, any browser can access data that ActiveX controls deliver, even if the browser does not support ActiveX.
Web site: http://www.walldata.com
Prices: Rumba Office 95/NT: $500, Rumba 95/NT for the Mainframe: $400, Rumba Access/400 95/NT: $400, Rumba 95/NT for the AS/400: $200, Rumba 95/NT for UNIX: $300