“Solutions”, Inc. Finds the Answer to their Green Screen Problems with Profound Logic
Since 1986, Solutions, Inc. has been a developer and marketer of custom software for County Government, City Government, and Not-For-Profit Agencies. They provide software solutions for County Assessors, Auditors, Engineers, Recorders, Treasurers, Cities and Not-For-Profit Agencies. Solutions, Inc. is an IBM Business Partner that provides conversions and do custom programming for both the public and private sector. They are dedicated to providing the highest quality software, support, services, and education to their clients. Learn more at www.gmdsolutions.com.
The software we were using to modernize our AS/400 screens was very limited. Developing interfaces with Profound UI really lets us add that ‘WOW’ factor to our applications, and a whole new world of UI possibilities are open to us!
– Chuck Pitts, Program Manager
When you have the government offices of two states relying on you to give them the best applications possible to get the job done, you know you have to deliver. This is the case for Solutions, Inc. For over thirty years, Solutions, Inc. has been the custom software development choice for government agencies throughout Iowa and now marketing to Nebraska.
“Solutions, Inc. created custom IBM i software to help govern 43 counties in two states and a wide range of departments,” explained Max Elg, VP of Operations. “Our customers rely on us to make sure their offices function as efficiently as possible.”
One of the challenges to that efficiency was dealing with old-fashioned, 5250 green screen interfaces. Solutions, Inc. deployed modern GUI screens for their software several years ago using a well-known product for application modernization. And while
the product succeeded at giving their applications a new look, the company’s development team, led by Chuck Pitts, realized that they would need to find a better option to carry them into the future.
“The software we were using to modernize our AS/400 screens was very limited,” explains Pitts. “It didn’t deliver the ability to incorporate multiple grids on a screen, and its menu system was disappointing. As developers, we didn’t have control over the capabilities, just could only create green screens. That just wasn’t enough.”
The Solutions, Inc. team considered moving to PHP development, but realized that it would take too much time and cause too much disruption to train their developers on a new language.
“We’re RPG developers,” says Pitts. “It’s what we know. And because there’s just six of us managing the development of custom software for thousands of users, we knew we needed a modernization option that would be intuitive to RPG developers and not force us to re-write code. That’s one of the reasons why we decided on Profound UI.”
Profound UI is a suite of tools that makes it easy to transform existing RPG applications into GUI browser-based applications, or develop new, rich desktop applications that run on the IBM i. With Profound UI, developers can use their existing RPG source code to deliver modern HTML5 application interfaces. The solution includes a patented Visual Designer that allows users to build graphical interfaces by dragging and dropping widgets – like tab panels, charts, CSS buttons, and maps – onto a canvas. Then, by converting the 5250 DDS source files into Rich Display files and using RPG Open Access, businesses can cut their ties to green screens and deliver truly modern applications, while retaining their development talent, source code, and IBM i system.
One of the problems Solutions, Inc. had with their previous modernization software is that the modernized screens rendered differently in their designer tools compared to what the end-users would see in the final product. Part of this was due to the way applications were served up – through a Windows server and ActiveX. Partly, it was due to the limitations of that modernization software itself. This is not the case with Profound UI.
“We know that the screens we develop in Profound UI will be the screens that our end-users will see. No guess-work required.”
“In addition to being completely native to IBM i, with no Windows middleware, the Profound UI Visual Designer is a true WYSIWYG,” says Elg. “In fact, my developers like to call it, ‘WYSIWYG-RA’: What You See Is What You Get, Right Away! We know that the screens we develop in Profound UI will be the screens that our end-users will see. No guess-work required.”
The Solutions, Inc. team was also impressed with the Atrium module, that enables them to add modern navigation to their applications. With Atrium, their end users no longer need to rely the clunky, unintuitive menu options within a 5250 green screen. Their applications have been customized for efficiency, with navigation that delivers them to the information they want to see with just a click of the mouse.
Mass conversion services were also used in Solutions, Inc.’s modernization project. This service enabled the Solutions, Inc. team to roll out modernized application screens in an automated manner that significantly reduced manual efforts.
“Creating GUI screens for five million lines of code and over six thousand screens would have taken our team longer than we would have liked,” explains Pitts. “With Profound’s Mass Conversion service, the modernization process was automated and saved us a ton of time.”
VISION, Solutions’ modernized real estate app, features modern functions like Google Maps and tabbed browsing.
Graphs and diagrams provide new insight into their sales numbers.
Once the Solutions, Inc. team rolled out the modernized applications to their end users, the positive feedback came in right away. Not only were the new, browser-based screens easier to use than their 5250 counterparts, they included new, modern functionality that was previously impossible to add in green screens.
“Now that we’re not limited to twenty-four lines per screen, a whole new world of UI possibilities are open to us,” says Pitts.
After training with Profound Logic on the products, the Solutions, Inc. development team was able to get started right away. In a short amount of time, they created new, Rich interfaces that feature grids with moveable columns, Google maps, charts and graphs.
“It’s been much easier to train new users on our software, and once they see what’s possible, they request new features for future releases.”
“Developing interfaces with Profound UI really lets us add that ‘WOW’ factor to our applications,” says Pitts. “It’s been much easier to train new users on our software, and once they see what’s possible, they request new features for future releases.”
In addition to the features of Profound UI that made their new application interfaces possible – such as Rich UI widgets – The Solutions, Inc. team also appreciates Profound Logic’s training and product support offerings.