This may be a crazy idea. I've mentioned it in part before.

I had my programmers create a TN3270 full screen terminal
interface for our archiving product, which is about to enter
beta. They also created a TN5250 full screen interface (we were
using a custom
TCP/IP client on the AS/400).

With a little more programming, we could

- create a general purpose terminal server on a PC
- create a menu system in that server for calling VB6 client
programs (or other programs that will create activex dlls)
- create terminal reading and writing routines for those DLLS to

And what you would get is

A programmer could write a single-instance VB6 program, that
would talk to one screen and accept input and write output to
it.  The server would call the program selected by the person at
the 5250 or 3270 terminal from a menu. It would create one
instance of the program for each person using it, so the
programming remains simple.

Actually the way VB works, is that one copy of the program
exists in memory as long as any session is using it, and a new
data area exists for each user. We did 1000 simultaneous
instances on a 100Mhz 64MB NT box. (It was a real old CPU).

Think of it as Cytrix for character terminals.

What could those VB programs do? Database entry and lookup,
scheduling and calendaring. Email. Web surfing. Customer service
into your web-centric database from 3270 terminals.

And of course you could create a rapid application development
system on top of the VB interface.

It could get pretty crazy.

How much more development do we need? Not very much. The hard
part is done.
I know menuing systems, I've written them (in COBOL). The screen
handling is done, and we've written a number of TCP/IP server

We could also make the server program talk to 'standard' Telnet
terminals, and even web browsers if that made sense to do.

You could run the server program on an integrated netfinity
server (or whatever they call it this month) and have the VB
programs talk OLEDB or ODBC to the AS/400 database, if you want.
Now you would be writing new programs for your AS/400 in VB 6,
that support classic terminals.

VB6 programmers are a lot easier to find than RPG programmers.

So how crazy is this idea?

Brad Jensen
Electronic Storage Corporation Tulsa OK USA

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